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PhD Studentship: Low Frequency Ocean Acoustic Phenomena (LOWFOAP)

University of Bath - Physics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,009 UKRI annual stipend (2019/20 rate) + tuition fees + training support grant
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th March 2019
Closes: 25th April 2019
Reference: RDUPH-FP01

The Centre for Space, Atmosphere and Oceanic Science (CSAOS) at the University of Bath is inviting applications for a fully-funded 4-year EPSRC iCASE studentship with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) to start in September 2019.

Lead supervisor: Dr Philippe Blondel,

Sounds dominate the oceans, spanning all frequencies and coming from different sources: natural (e.g. wind, rain), biological (e.g. marine mammals, fish) and anthropogenic (e.g. ships, seismic exploration). Very-low frequency hydroacoustic signals (< 100 Hz) are often associated with geophysical processes, like earthquakes and landslides, but they can be linked to man-made activities, like offshore industry, fish blasting, or even nuclear test explosions. Understanding the mechanisms generating noise below 100 Hz, has important applications for monitoring nuclear explosions (e.g., the combined use of seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound signals to detect and study distant phenomena, particularly explosions, but also submarine accidents or aircraft impacts), and to naval operations such as anti-submarine warfare, where noise can be either or both a source of interference and a source of opportunity. Current understanding of these mechanisms is very limited for noise below 100 Hz. The ocean acoustic phenomena below 10 Hz are rarely studied and even less well understood, which betrays the technical challenges associated with this frequency regime, despite the importance to defence and security. 

Remote sensing, for explosion monitoring, naval sonar (detection, classification and localisation) and other areas of acoustical oceanography, needs to identify these distant phenomena (from any location), characterise each event (natural or artificial), estimate the propagation of the event through the ocean acoustic environment, and locate it accurately (latitude, longitude and depth). This is made more difficult by often significant broadband background noise, over and above the fundamental thermal noise in the ocean, and complex acoustic propagation through the Earth, in the ocean and at the interfaces between ground and water, and water and air. This project aims to: 

1. Investigate the acoustic variability of key candidate mechanisms (geological disturbances, melting of marine ice and polar glaciers, wind, distant storms, breaking waves, rain, marine mammals, shipping, surveying, sonar, and many others); 

2. Spanning extreme spatial and temporal variability, the low-frequency components of these mechanisms are subject to unusual propagation in the ocean environment, which can include coupling with one or more sediment layers, generating seismic and interface waves, and coupling with the ocean surface and between the ocean and the atmosphere; 

3. Develop operational models to calculate the variability and propagation in a range of different environments, to be used in different contexts of explosion monitoring and naval sonar. 

The project will provide unique insights into both the characteristics of the low frequency, very low frequency, and ultra-low frequency ocean acoustic noise spectrum and the way that this noise propagates through the ocean acoustic environment, and how it interacts with surfaces and structures in the environment, across this mammoth frequency range. 

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous. 

Applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form: 

Please quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

For more information about applying for a PhD at Bath, see: 

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