Professor David Stevens (School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia)
Dr Helene Hewitt (Hadley Centre, UK Met Office)
Dr Patrick Hyder (Hadley Centre, UK Met Office)
The Southern Ocean is a critical component of the global climate system, where heat is lost from the ocean to the atmosphere, strong winds stir and mix the waters, and sea ice forms and melts. Variations in the temperature and saltiness of Winter Water (the remnant of the previous winter’s near-surface ocean layer) may reveal previous interactions between ocean, ice and atmosphere. Despite its importance, processes responsible for Winter Water formation are not well understood (Pellichero et al., 2017), nor are they thought to be well represented in current Earth System Models. This project will explore Winter Water and its spatial and temporal variability, in both newly-available Southern Ocean observational data sets and the UK’s climate models, determine the underlying physical mechanisms, and test Winter Water layer depth as a metric to assess Earth System Model performance.
You will join a productive research team of physical oceanographers and climate modellers at UEA and the Met Office in Exeter (CASE partner). You will analyse Winter Water temperature, saltiness and depth in observations from tagged seals, research ships and profiling floats. You will assess the performance of the UK’s climate models at different resolutions and with different mixing parameterizations in simulating Winter Water and its variability. You will use simplified models to investigate the key physical processes responsible for Winter Water formation, e.g. air-sea interaction or sea ice formation/melting. You will test the hypothesis that Winter Water depth is a more robust indicator than mixed layer depth of Earth System Model performance.
This project will provide you with a thorough training in physical oceanography, data analysis, numerical modelling, and interactions between ocean, ice and atmosphere. We anticipate that you will participate in a Southern Ocean field campaign to gain oceanographic observational expertise. The project will equip you for a wide variety of careers, e.g. ocean/climate research, marine industries, consultancy or numerical modelling.
You will be keen to learn about the physics of the ocean and will have studied natural sciences, physics, mathematics, oceanography, meteorology, or environmental sciences with good numerical skills.