PhD Studentship: Measuring and Tracking Atmospheric Disturbances Using Observations and Ray-Tracing (MATADOR)

University of Bath - Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Supervisor name: Dr Corwin Wright

Email contact:

What You’ll Do

Atmospheric gravity waves (GWs) are waves generated by wind flowing over mountains, by weather systems and by convective storms in the tropics. They are a vital part of the climate system, and they strongly affect how the air moves at all heights from the surface of the Earth to the edge of space. However, they are extremely difficult to simulate in weather and climate forecasting, because of their small size relative to the Earth as a whole (hundreds of metres to hundreds of kilometres).              

MATADOR is a Royal Society-funded project based on recent advances in our ability to measure these waves using satellites. We will use state-of-the-art analysis methods to measure wave speeds, directions and energies throughout the atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy. We will then combine our measurements with model data to study how the waves travel. This will let us clearly identify the sources and sinks of these waves, providing vital information needed to drive advances in weather and climate forecasting.

Based on these results, we will then use ground-based instruments and weather balloon measurements to study in detail how gravity waves drive the atmospheric circulation at extremely high altitudes. This will let us study where and how these waves couple into the charged ionosphere, a region in the upper atmosphere which affects GPS and radio communications.

What You’ll Learn

From the supervisory team, you’ll receive training in programming (including high-performance supercomputing and big data analysis), in the use of data from a wide range of atmosphere-measuring instruments, and in the analysis and interpretation of climate and weather models. You’ll also benefit from taking part in specialist external training courses in the atmospheric sciences, at both national and international level. As you progress towards your PhD, you’ll have the chance to present at major international research conferences, and to publish papers in leading journals. Throughout the project, you’ll work with a wide range of internal and external collaborators, including at the British Antarctic Survey and in the United States.

This extensive training and collaborative experience will prepare you for a range of careers across science and beyond. Recent PhD students from the Centre have gone on to a variety of careers, including academic research, the Met Office, the European Space Agency and the Civil Service, as well as into a range of private sector positions, both research and otherwise.

The project would suit a student with a background in a mathematical or physical science, with an interest in the atmosphere or weather in general and in developing skills in the area. Prior atmospheric-science knowledge is beneficial but not necessary.

References/Background Reading

“The Case of the Missing Waves” -

Wright et al (Atmos. Chem. Phys. 2017) -

Wright et al (Atmos. Meas. Tech. 2015) -

A Home/EU award will provide full tuition fees, an annual Training Support Fee and a tax-free maintenance payment of £14,553 (2017-8 rate) for up to 4 years.

The successful applicant will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent).

Preferred Start Date: 1st October 2018

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