Fully Funded Studentship: Autonomous glider measurements of internal waves and ocean mixing processes (HALL_U14EE)

Deadline: 6th January 2014.

Supervisor: Dr Rob Hall Robert.Hall@uea.ac.uk  

The Project:

Internal waves are waves that exist beneath the surface of the ocean in regions where the watercolumn is stratified (i.e., the density of the water increases with depth). Their amplitudes can be many times larger than waves observed on the surface and although they propagate slowly, they can travel thousands of kilometres before dissipating or breaking on continental slopes. As a result, internal waves are an important mechanism for the transfer of kinetic energy in the ocean, from large-scale tides and wind events, to the small scales at which turbulent mixing occurs. This internal wave driven mixing is thought to increase the upwelling of cold, deep water into the warm surface layer and so help maintain the global overturning circulation. This oceanic circulation, along with circulation of the atmosphere, transports heat from the equator to the poles and so regulates Earth’s climate.

The recent development of autonomous underwater gliders has given oceanographers a new tool for observing the physical, chemical, and biological processes in the ocean, including internal waves. Gliders are robotic vehicles that ‘fly’ through the ocean by increasing or decreasing their density relative to the surrounding seawater. As they glide from the surface to a depth of 1 km (and back) they measure properties of the ocean such as temperature, salinity, and oxygen concentration. Each time they reach the surface they transmit their data and receive navigational commands via iridium mobile phone.

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The use of gliders for internal wave observations is in its infancy and so far has been limited to high-frequency waves (e.g., Rudnick et al. 2013). This project will utilise the UEA archive of glider data to further the identification and analysis of internal waves and internal tides (internal waves with tidal frequencies) in the ocean, assess their spatial distribution and temporal variability, compare with regional numerical model simulations, and relate to measurements of turbulent mixing.

For this project we seek a motivated student with a good physical science degree (e.g., physical oceanography, meteorology, physics, environmental sciences; minimum requirement: 2.1). Experience of programming (e.g., Matlab, Fortran) is an advantage. A background in ocean sciences is not required, training in physical oceanography will be provided. You will develop transferable skills in computer programing, data analysis and visualization, and scientific communication. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a research cruise and present your scientific findings at workshops and conferences.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the newly-created ENV East Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration led by the University of East Anglia, with the Universities of Essex and Kent, and twenty other partners. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition. The interview dates will be 14th and 15th February 2014 at one of the three Universities listed above.

Entry Requirements:

First degree (2.1) in a Physical science degree (e.g., physical oceanography, meteorology, physics, environmental sciences)


Funding is available for this project. For full details visit: www.uea.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research-degrees/science/environmental-sciences.

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To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: pgr.enquiries.admiss@uea.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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