PhD Studentship: Application of a novel trajectory approach to improve understanding of the role of aerosols in the Arctic - Mathematics

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Project Description:

In this PhD studentship, we aim to reduce current uncertainties in estimates of future Arctic climate change by improving the understanding of atmospheric processes affecting aerosol sources and sinks during transport to the Arctic region.


Aerosols are important components of the climate system; however, the impact of aerosols on climate remains is highly uncertain due to the limited understanding of processes governing atmospheric aerosol sources and sinks. This is particularly true for the Arctic, a region where aerosols are believed to play a key role in controlling the radiative budget, yet global climate models (GCMs) describe aerosols poorly in this region. Increasing the current state-of-the-art understanding of how the Arctic environment will respond to a warming climate requires a more accurate representation of aerosols by GCMs. To achieve this, novel methods are required to highlight discrepancies compared to observations and concurrently isolate the structural deficiencies in the models associated with the aerosol life cycle during transport that results in the observed differences.

Primary Aim:

In this college funded PhD studentship we aim to improve understanding of the role of atmospheric aerosol sources and sinks on the current representation of aerosols in GCMs. To reach this goal we will make use of a recently developed Lagrangian modelling framework for calculating air-mass trajectories from climate models. The AeroCom Aerosol GCM Trajectory Experiment ( is using this Lagrangian modelling framework to provide a detailed inter-comparison of the representation of aerosols within GCMs from numerous modelling centers worldwide. This PhD will use the results from this experiment to improve the representation of aerosol microphysical properties in GCMs.

This PhD studentship will involve working with big climate datasets and climate models which necessitates a large programming element; therefore, experience working in a Linux environment is highly desirable. Candidates should have an interest in numerical modelling, and applying mathematics and statistics in weather and climate science; prior knowledge of climate modelling is not necessary.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,553 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international fees are entitled to apply, but must note that the studentship will only cover part international fees, and no stipend.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in January 2018 and is subject to confirmation of funding.  

Entry requirements:

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

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South West England