Orographic Flows off Greenland and Their Impact on the Ocean


Orographic Flows off Greenland and Their Impact on the Ocean


Project Description


Professor Ian Renfrew (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia) contact me

Professor David Stevens (School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia)

Professor Kent Moore (Department of Physics, University of Toronto)

Project Background

Greenland acts as a massive barrier to the atmosphere so forces a number of orographic (mountain) winds, such as barrier flows along its flanks and katabatic (downslope) flows over the ice sheet. Barrier winds off eastern Greenland transport sea ice along the coastline, while intermittent katabatic flows can blow ice offshore. These orographic flows dramatically affect the large-scale atmospheric circulation and the air-sea-ice interactions in this region. Furthermore, both the sea-ice around Greenland and the ice sheet itself are changing dramatically in response to anthropogenic climate change and this is changing the role of these orographic flows within the climate system – although we don’t yet know how. The Greenland and Iceland Seas are currently a major focus of attention as they host the processes that generate the densest waters of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.

Research Methodology

In this project, you will examine barrier winds and katabatic flows over Northeast Greenland – a region where they have never been studied. You will examine several case studies using simulations you will make using a state-of-the-art numerical model and observations, including investigating the impact of these events on the ocean and under different sea-ice conditions. You will place these case studies in a climatological context using the latest meteorological reanalyses products. And you will carry out an analysis of coupled climate model output to determine the climatological impact of these flows on the ocean under different sea-ice conditions.


You will join an active research group at UEA in meteorology, oceanography and climate. You will be trained to run state-of-the-art numerical simulations of the atmosphere and learn how to rigorously analyse those simulations, observations and output from the atmospheric, sea-ice and oceanic components of a climate model. You will have the opportunity to present your work at an international conference.

Person Specification

We are looking for enthusiastic and self-motivated candidates with a strong numerical background in meteorology, oceanography, mathematics, physics or similar. Previous programming experience in Python or Matlab would be advantageous.


  • 1. Renfrew, I.A., R. S. Pickart, K. Våge, G. W. K. Moore, et al., 2019: The Iceland Greenland Seas Project, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 100, 1795–1817. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0217.1
  • 2. Moore, G.W.K., K. Våge, R.S. Pickart and I. A. Renfrew, 2015: Decreasing intensity of open-ocean convection in the Greenland and Iceland seas, Nature Climate Change, 5, 877-882. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2688.
  • 3. Harden, B. E., I. A. Renfrew and G. N. Petersen, 2011: A climatology of wintertime barrier winds off southeast Greenland, J. Climate, 24, 4701-4717. doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI4113.1
  • 4. Petersen, G.N., I.A. Renfrew and G.W.K. Moore, 2009: An overview of barrier winds off southeastern Greenland during GFDex, Quarterly J. Royal Meteorol. Soc., 135, 1950-1967.
  • Renfrew, I. A., G. W. K. Moore, J. E. Kristjánsson, H. Ólafsson, S. L. Gray, G. N. Petersen, K. Bovis, P. R. A. Brown, I. Føre, T. Haine, C. Hay, E. A. Irvine, A. Lawrence, T. Ohigashi, S. Outten, R. S. Pickart, M. Shapiro, D. Sproson, R. Swinbank, A. Woolley, S. Zhang, 2008: The Greenland Flow Distortion experiment, Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 89, 1307-1324.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2021. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 12th January 2021.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£15,285 p.a. for 2020-21) and research funding. For the first time in 2021/22 international applicants (EU and non-EU) will be eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. Please note ARIES funding does not cover visa costs (including immigration health surcharge) or other additional costs associated with relocation to the UK.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences. 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 in the subject area.
  • 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 significant relevant non-academic 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 click on the “Apply now” link below.

Get in Touch

aries.dtp@uea.ac.uk /