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PhD Studentship: The Waves The Winds Blow

University of Bath - Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th December 2018
Closes: 30th April 2019

Lead Supervisor: Dr Corwin Wright
Project enquiries: 


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).

Since models have such difficulty simulating GWs, the most effective way to study them is in observational data. However, while waves are inherently wind phenomena, previous research on their behaviour at the global scale has only been able to study the effect of these winds on atmospheric temperature. “The Waves The Wind Blow” will address this problem directly, using high-altitude wind data to study the true form of the waves directly and hence understand them better than ever before.

In the first year of the project, we’ll look at wind data recorded by global commercial aircraft, characterising the wave signatures present in them to understand their distribution over major flight paths. We’ll compare these measurements to temperature-based satellite observations, allowing us to better use these historic data.  This will help us understand how they drive aircraft turbulence, one of their most important day-to-day effects.

In later years, assuming the data become available as expected, we will switch to studying global data from ESA’s new Aeolus satellite wind profiler. This will allow us to study wave sources that have been extremely difficult to measure before, such as tropical convection and storm systems – waves from these sources are known to be important contributors to atmospheric dynamics, but have yet to be properly quantified. We will also look at winds derived from state-of-the-art weather models to understand how the models can better simulate the effects of the waves, helping to advance climate change research.


Successful applicants will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or equivalent). Any English language requirements must be met at the deadline for applications.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Funding Notes: 

This project is eligible for inclusion in funding rounds scheduled for end of January 2019, February 2019, March 2019 and April 2019. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years. Early application is strongly recommended.

Expected start date: 30th September 2019

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