How do shelf edge processes impact mackerel larval dispersal?

(HALL_UENV24ARIES) CASE studentship with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)

How do shelf edge processes impact mackerel larval dispersal?

(HALL_UENV24ARIES) CASE studentship with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)

Project Description


Dr Rob Hall, University of East Anglia – Contact me

Dr Jennifer Graham, Cefas

Dr Kieran Hyder, Cefas

Dr Anthony Wise, NOC

Scientific background

The energetic hydrodynamic processes that occur along the continental shelf edge – the transition between shallow shelf seas and the deep open ocean – not only transport water masses, nutrients, and carbon across the shelf break, but are also thought to impact larval dispersal and population dynamics for commercially important pelagic fish species such as Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus). Many of these processes (for example internal tides, current meanders, and upwelling/downwelling) are enhanced by the complex geomorphology of submarine canyons, which are ubiquitous along continental margins worldwide and particularly large, numerous, and influential along the Celtic Sea shelf edge.

Project objectives

1)         Determine the dominant shelf break exchange processes around the European northwest shelf.

2)         Investigate how each of these processes impact Atlantic mackerel larval dispersal.

3)         Predict how this ecological connectivity will respond to current and future climate change.

Research methodology

In this project, you will use a suite of regional ocean circulation models to investigate how different hydrodynamic processes impact Atlantic mackerel larval dispersal around the European northwest shelf, from the Celtic Sea to the northern North Sea. Mackerel egg and larval dispersal will be simulated using the OceanParcels particle tracking model, driven by the Atlantic Margin Model at both 7-km horizontal resolution and higher 1.5-km resolution; the latter resolving key shelf break exchange processes. Larval dispersal processes will be further isolated and tested by driving OceanParcels with idealised hydrodynamic models.


You will develop highly sought-after expertise in numerical ocean modelling and be trained in advanced methods for data processing, analysis, and visualization. You will collaborate with leading marine scientists at UEA, Cefas (the CASE partner) and NOC, present your research at conferences, and link your findings to Defra policy. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a research cruise to gain first-hand experience in observational oceanography.

Person specification

You will have a physical science degree or similar (e.g. oceanography, meteorology, geophysics, environmental sciences, natural sciences, physics, mathematics, engineering). Experience with a computer programming language (e.g. Python, Matlab) will be an advantage. This exciting project is suitable for candidates from numerical disciplines.


  • 1 Hall, R. A., T. Aslam, and V. A. I. Huvenne, 2017: Partly standing internal tides in a dendritic submarine canyon observed by an ocean glider. Deep-Sea Research Part I, 126, 73–84, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2017.05.015.
  • 2 Graham, J. A., J. P. Rosser, E. O’Dea, and H. T. Hewitt, 2018: Resolving shelf break exchange around the European northwest shelf. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 12,386–12,395, doi:10.1029/2018GL079399.Graham, J. A., J. P. Rosser, E. O’Dea, and H. T. Hewitt, 2018: Resolving shelf break exchange around the European northwest shelf. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 12,386–12,395, doi:10.1029/2018GL079399.
  • 3 Boyd, R., R. Thorpe, K. Hyder, S. Roy, N. Walker, and R. Sibly, 2020: Potential consequences of climate and management scenarios for the Northeast Atlantic mackerel fishery. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, 639, doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00639.
  • 4 Graham, J. A., J. W. Watson, L. M. García García, K. Bradley, R. Bradley, M. Brown, B. J. Ciotti, D. Goodwin, R. D. M. Nash, W. K. Roche, C. Wogerbauer, and K. Hyder, 2023: Pelagic connectivity of European sea bass between spawning and nursery grounds. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9, 1046585, doi:10.3389/fmars.2022.1046585.
  • 5 Amaro, T., V. A. I. Huvenne, A. L. Allcock, T. Aslam, J. S. Davies, R. Danovaro, H. C. De Stigter, G. C. A. Duineveld, C. Gambi, A. J. Gooday, L. M. Gunton, R. Hall, K. L. Howell, J. Ingels, K. Kiriakoulakis, C. E. Kershaw, M. S. S. Lavaleye, K. Robert, H. Stewart, D. Van Rooij, M. White, and A. M. Wilson, 2016: The Whittard Canyon – A case study of submarine canyon processes. Progress in Oceanography, 146, 38–57, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2016.06.003.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2024. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 10th January 2024.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£18,622 p.a. for 2023/24) and research funding. International applicants are eligible for fully-funded ARIES studentships including fees. Please note however that ARIES funding does not cover additional costs associated with relocation to, and living in, the UK. We expect to award between 4 and 6 studentships to international candidates in 2024.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences, on top of all Research Costs associated with the project. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses.
  • ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience, and our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor. To apply for this Studentship follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or click the 'apply now' link.
  • ARIES is required by our funders to collect Equality and Diversity Information from all of our applicants. The information you provide will be used solely for monitoring and statistical purposes; it will remain confidential, and will be stored on the UEA sharepoint server. Data will not be shared with those involved in making decisions on the award of Studentships, and will have no influence on the success of your application. It will only be shared outside of this group in an anonymised and aggregated form. You will be ask to complete the form by the University to which you apply.
  • ARIES funding is subject to UKRI terms and conditions. Postgraduate Researchers are expected to live within reasonable distance of their host organisation for the duration of their studentship. See for more information

Applications open

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