Fully Funded Studentship: Ocean2ice: Ocean-ice interaction in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, Antarctica (HEYWOOD_U14EE)

Deadline: 6th January 2014.

Supervisor: Dr Karen Heywood [email protected]  

The Project:

Imagine the ocean as a large gin and tonic. When you add an icecube, the level in the glass increases. When the ice melts, the level in the glass doesn’t change, because the ice is floating. When ice resting on land in Antarctica flows into the sea, either as an iceberg or as meltwater, sea level around the world increases. If the same amount of water returned to Antarctica as snowfall, the system would be in balance.  However some glaciers in Antarctica are melting at a faster rate than they are being replaced. We don’t know why this is happening, so it’s difficult to predict future sea level.

When glaciers reach the sea, they float over the seawater, as an ice shelf. One suggestion is that the ocean is providing more heat to melt the ice than previously. In early 2014 we are leading a scientific expedition to one of the fastest melting glaciers, Pine Island Glacier in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. We will deploy instruments in the water nearby, to see how and why the warm ocean water gets close to the ice. Does the wind force the water there? Does it arrive all year round? What is the role of sea ice? What happens to the meltwater?

We will use novel equipment including tiny sensors glued onto the fur of seals who remain in the area over winter, and Seagliders, autonomous vehicles that survey the ocean in unprecedented detail. We’ll make intensive measurements of the physical processes occurring on the continental shelf and slope to will reveal how heat is getting to the glacier, its effect, and the meltwater paths. Understanding the seasonal changes in these processes will be the goal of this PhD project.

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This PhD is part of the Ocean2ice project, led by UEA, with partners at the Universities of St Andrews and Southampton and British Antarctic Survey. You will join a vibrant group of oceanographers, participate in a research cruise and attend international conferences, workshops and summer schools. You should have a background in physical science (e.g. physics, oceanography, meteorology, geophysics, environmental sciences). Experience of programming (e.g. Matlab) is an advantage. Knowledge of oceanography is not required. You will be trained in seagoing oceanography, polar science, and cutting-edge technologies such as Seagliders and seal tags. You will develop transferable skills in computer programming, data analysis and communicating your science to a variety of audiences. You will spend time in St Andrews working with SMRU.

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 physical science (e.g. physics, oceanography, meteorology, geophysics, environmental sciences).


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

To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: [email protected] or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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