Windstorms and atmosphere-ocean coupling around Greenland in a changing climate


Windstorms and atmosphere-ocean coupling around Greenland in a changing climate


Project Description


Professor Ian Renfrew, University of East Anglia – Contact me

Professor David Stevens, University of East Anglia

Professor Kjetil Vage, University of Bergen

Professor Thomas Spengler, University of Bergen

Scientific background

Arctic climate change and the associated sea-ice retreat are having significant impacts on both the atmosphere, the ocean and their interactions. Atmosphere-ocean surface heat exchange is highest during cold-air outbreaks and high surface wind speeds and thus often associated with mesoscale weather systems such as barrier winds, polar lows, and tip jets, embedded within cold-air masses. As sea-ice retreats, the location of the highest heat fluxes also retreats, which is now contributing to changes in the atmospheric forcing of the Greenland and Iceland Seas and along the major ocean currents of the Nordics Seas, with ramifications for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. The challenge for this project is determine likely future changes in these mesoscale weather systems and assess their impact on the coupled climate system.

Research methodology

The aim of the project is to quantify the impact of high windspeed events on atmosphere-ocean interactions with particular focus on long-term changes in their impact, given sea-ice retreat and changes in the ocean circulation. Specifically:

  • Investigate the structure and characteristics of barrier winds off East Greenland using new wintertime observations from a research cruise.
  • Carry out numerical weather prediction simulations of barrier wind case studies with the observed sea-ice distribution and with synthesised future sea-ice distributions; examine the impacts on barrier wind structure and associated surface turbulent fluxes.
  • Examine the frequency, characteristics and ocean mixed-layer impacts of barrier winds and tip jets in current and future climates via time-slice comparisons from state-of-the-art climate model simulations.


You will have the opportunity to take part in a Norwegian-led research cruise of the western Iceland and Greenland Seas in late winter 2025 and contribute to the observational programme.

You will have training in using a state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction model – the Met Office Unified Model – and in the use and analyses of the latest climate model output.

Person specification

A degree in Meteorology, Oceanography, Physics, Maths or a similar quantitative science. An interest in data analysis and numerical modelling is essential, while some experience in coding is desirable.


  • 1 Renfrew, I.A., R. S. Pickart, 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 Harden, B. E., Renfrew, I. A., & Petersen, G. N. (2011). A climatology of wintertime barrier winds off southeast Greenland. Journal of Climate, 24(17), 4701-4717Harden, B. E., Renfrew, I. A., & Petersen, G. N. (2011). A climatology of wintertime barrier winds off southeast Greenland. Journal of Climate, 24(17), 4701-4717
  • 3 Moore, G. W. K., Våge, K., Pickart, R. S., & Renfrew, I. A. (2015). Decreasing intensity of open-ocean convection in the Greenland and Iceland seas. Nature Climate Change, 5(9), 877-882.
  • 4 Våge, K., Papritz, L., Håvik, L., Spall, M. A., & Moore, G. W. K. (2018). Ocean convection linked to the recent ice edge retreat along east Greenland. Nature Communications, 9(1), 1287.
  • 5 Moore, G. W. K., Våge, K., Renfrew, I. A., & Pickart, R. S. (2022). Sea-ice retreat suggests re-organization of water mass transformation in the Nordic and Barents Seas. Nature Communications, 13(1), 67.

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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