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How will the changing Indian Ocean influence the South Asian monsoon over the coming century? (WEBBER_UENV19ARIES)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Stipend if eligible
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 1st November 2018
Closes: 8th January 2019

Start date: October 2019

Closing date: 08 January 2019

No. of positions available: 1

Hours: Full-time or Part-time

Contract: Temporary

Supervisor Dr Ben Webber

Project description


Climate change is expected to profoundly affect the South Asian (Indian) monsoon, with substantial impacts on the livelihoods of over a billion people. Predicted effects include increasing rainfall, despite weakening of the associated monsoon winds. A key part of understanding these effects is analysing projections of changing surface ocean conditions, which in turn strongly influence monsoon rainfall and its variability. However, relatively little research has been conducted into how changing ocean currents, and the vertical structure of the upper ocean, might influence the South Asian monsoon. You will investigate these fundamental questions using state-of-the-art computer climate models.


You will analyse recently released climate model output from CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6), and HighResMIP (High-Resolution Model Intercomparison Project). CMIP6 will provide state-of-the-art climate projections to the forthcoming IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. You will compare the representation of key interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, such as evaporation and wind-driven mixing, over the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal with real-world observations to better understand key processes and feedbacks. You will investigate how future changes in ocean conditions – particularly in the northern Indian Ocean – will influence the South Asian monsoon under a range of future climate scenarios.


You will join an active research group in meteorology, oceanography and climate. Training will be given in climate dynamics, numerical modelling and analysis of model output. You will learn how to assess models against observations and how to quantify uncertainty in future climate projections. You will be guided through preparing your results for publication in high quality journals and you will have the opportunity to present your research at national and international conferences. Training will also include summer schools, such as in climate modelling, and a diverse range of workshops. You will also have the opportunity to undertake bespoke fieldwork training on relevant research projects. 

Person specification 

We seek an enthusiastic, proactive student who interested in climate change and feedbacks with the ocean, with a numerate, physical science degree, e.g. physics, meteorology, oceanography, applied mathematics, natural sciences, geophysics or environmental sciences.  Experience of computer languages (e.g. Python, Matlab) is advantageous. Minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership. Undertaking a PhD with ARIES will involve attendance at training events.

ARIES is committed to equality & diversity, and inclusion of students of any and all backgrounds. All ARIES Universities have Athena Swan Bronze status as a minimum.

Applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited environmental science experience may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses. Usually only UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 26th/27th February 2019.

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