Professor Karen Heywood (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
Dr Anna Wahlin (Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg)
Dr Marie Porter (Scottish Association for Marine Science)
Greenland and Amundsen Sea (West Antarctica) glaciers are rapidly melting in response to recent climate warming and related changes in ocean circulation, increasing estimates of future sea level rise. However, these estimates are highly uncertain because we lack an understanding of the fundamental physical processes that accelerate glacial melt along the fronts of ice shelves and within sub-ice-shelf cavities. This PhD project will investigate the heat brought into contact with ice shelves by deep, but relatively warm, water masses on the continental shelf. You will observe and assess the important turbulent mixing processes that alter these water masses as they approach the ice shelves, while they recirculate beneath, and as they exit carrying glacial meltwater.
To investigate these processes, you will use novel observations of ocean temperature, salinity, current velocity, and small-scale turbulence from the Amundsen Sea and Greenland fjords, both in front of and under the ice shelves. These unique measurements will be made from research ships, buoyancy-driven profiling floats and ocean gliders, and propeller-driven autonomous underwater vehicles. You will use these datasets to (a) quantify turbulent mixing of heat between water masses in contact with the ice shelves, (b) determine the type of instabilities that cause mixing, and (c) assess the impact of mixing on glacial melt.
You will have the opportunity to participate in a research cruise to the Amundsen Sea in 2021/22 and will collaborate with leading UK and US oceanographers, glaciologists and geophysicists as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. You will gain valuable experience in observational oceanography and marine autonomy, be trained in advanced methods for data processing, analysis and visualisation, and, as part of the UEA Glider Group, be involved with the deployment and piloting of ocean gliders during upcoming field campaigns.
The ideal candidate will have a physical science degree or similar (e.g. oceanography, meteorology, physics, environmental sciences, natural sciences, engineering, mathematics). A background in ocean science is not required, but experience with a computer programming language (e.g. Matlab, Python) will be an advantage. This project is suitable for candidates from numerical disciplines.