Deluge or drought? Climate change and South Asian Monsoon rainfall


Deluge or drought? Climate change and South Asian Monsoon rainfall


Project Description


Dr Ben Webber, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Prof David Stevens, School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia

Prof Manoj Joshi, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Dr Andrew Turner, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading; National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS)



Climate change is expected to profoundly affect the South Asian (Indian) monsoon, with substantial impacts on the livelihoods of over a billion people. Predicted effects include increasing rainfall, despite weakening of the associated monsoon winds. A key part of understanding these effects is analysing projections of changing surface ocean conditions and teleconnections to sources of climate variability such as El Niño, which in turn strongly influence monsoon rainfall and its variability. However, relatively little research has been conducted into how changes to atmosphere-ocean interaction might influence the South Asian monsoon. You will investigate these fundamental questions using state-of-the-art computer climate models.


You will analyse recently released climate model output from CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6), and HighResMIP (High-Resolution Model Intercomparison Project). CMIP6 will provide state-of-the-art climate projections to the forthcoming IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. You will compare the representation of how remote forcing from the Pacific is transmitted via the Indian Ocean and how this influences air-sea interaction here with real-world observations to better understand key processes and feedbacks. You will investigate how future changes in ocean conditions and atmosphere-ocean interaction will influence the South Asian monsoon under a range of future climate scenarios.


You will join an active research group in meteorology, oceanography and climate. Training will be given in climate dynamics, numerical modelling and analysis of model output. You will learn how to assess models against observations and how to quantify uncertainty in future climate projections. You will be guided through preparing your results for publication in high quality journals and you will have the opportunity to present your research at national and international conferences. Training will also include summer schools, such as in climate modelling, and a diverse range of workshops. You will also have the opportunity to undertake bespoke fieldwork training on relevant research projects.

Person specification:

We seek an enthusiastic, proactive individual who is interested in climate change and feedback with the ocean, with a numerate, physical science degree, e.g. physics, meteorology, oceanography, applied mathematics, natural sciences, geophysics or environmental sciences.  Experience of computer languages (e.g. Python, Matlab, Java) is advantageous.


  • Vinayachandran PN et al. (32 authors including Webber, BGM). 2018. BoBBLE: Ocean--atmosphere interaction and its impact on the South Asian monsoon. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 99, 1569–1587. doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0230.1.. Meteor. Soc. Published online. doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0230.1
  • Turner AG and Annamalai H (2012). Climate Change and the South Asian summer monsoon. Nat. Clim. Change. 2, 587–595. doi: 10.1038/nclimate1495
  • Webber BGM, Matthews AJ, Vinayachandran PN, Neema CP, Sanchez-Franks A, Vijith V, Amol P, Baranowski DB. The dynamics of the Southwest Monsoon current in 2016 from high-resolution in-situ observations. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 48, 2259–2282, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-17-0215.1 10.1175/JPO-D-17-0215.1
  • Turner AG, Joshi M, Robertson ES, Woolnough SJ (2012) The effect of Arabian Sea optical properties on SST biases and the South Asian summer monsoon in a coupled GCM. Climate Dynamics. 39, 811-826. doi: 10.1007/s00382-011-1254-3
  • Shaffrey, LC, Hodson D, Robson J, Stevens DP, Hawkins E, Polo I, Stevens I, Sutton RT, Lister G, Iwi A, Smith D, Stephens A (2017): Decadal Predictions with the HiGEM High Resolution Global Coupled Climate Model: Description and Basic Evaluation, Climate Dynamics, 48, 297-311, doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3075-x.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award.
  • 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 (see
  • This studentship will start on 1st October 2020, and the closing date for applications is 23:59 on 15th January 2020.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor.
  • Please note that the joint NERC-ESRC ARIES-SeNSS studentship projects have different deadlines and funding arrangements. For full details please visit, or contact

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