Professor Adrian Matthews School of Environmental Sciences and School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
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Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

PhD Projects

I have two funded PhD projects starting in October 2018. Full funding (fees and maintenance grant) is available to UK applicants, and fees-only funding is available to EU citizens.

Further details and online application can be found by following the links.

Additionally, I always welcome enquiries from potential PhD students, particularly from applicants with external funding; recent PhD students have been funded by Commonwealth University fellowships, the Ford Foundation and studentships from their home countries.


Understanding how waves in the tropical atmosphere trigger extreme weather

Project description

Figure 1. Maps showing the eastward progression of rainfall (red colours) across Indonesia associated with the passage of a convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin wave.

Selected other project supervisors:

Dr Manoj Joshi (UEA)

Dr Ben Webber (UEA)

Dr Darek Baranowski (University of Warsaw)

Scientific background
Extreme weather in the tropics, particularly in the form of heavy rainfall and strong winds, can affect the livelihoods of the local population through flooding, landslides and impacts on agriculture and local infrastructure. Extreme weather in the tropics is controlled to a large part by waves in the tropical atmosphere (Figure 1). These waves are the response of the tropical atmosphere to fluctuations in the large-scale tropical circulation and rainfall patterns; effectively the natural or normal modes of the tropical atmosphere, rather like standing waves or harmonics are the normal modes of a guitar string. So-called "convectively-coupled equatorial waves" are one example that combine tropical atmospheric waves with tropical atmospheric convection (i.e. thunderstorms). These tropical waves are predictable up to a few days ahead, and are one of the few sources of predictability in the tropical atmosphere.

Although the broad features of these tropical waves are known, their impact on extreme weather is not; this represents a major gap in our understanding of tropical weather.

Research methodology
You will determine the effect of tropical waves on extreme weather in the tropics. Initially, this will involve analysis of state-of-the-art satellite data sets that measure rainfall every 3 hours across the whole tropics. You will then conduct sets of experiments with an atmospheric climate model to determine what factors generate and influence these tropical waves.
Training and research environment
You will join an active research group at UEA in tropical meteorology and climate. You will be trained in meteorological and climate theory, and in the theoretical and practical aspects of meteorological analysis of very large data sets, and computer modelling of weather and climate. You will have the opportunity to present your work at national and international conferences. There may also be an opportunity to take part in the international Equatorial Line Observations field campaign in Sumatra and Borneo in 2018/19, which is focussed on understanding the mechanisms of tropical waves.
Person specification
We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active student with strong scientific interests and self-motivation. You will have a degree in physics, mathematics, meteorology, oceanography or environmental science with good numerical ability.
Funding
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by EnvEast on 12/13 February 2018.

Selected candidates who meet RCUK's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. Ordinarily, EnvEast studentships are for 3.5 years, although longer awards may be made to applicants from quantitative disciplines who have limited experience in the environmental sciences, to allow them to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover tuition fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

This PhD studentship is expected to begin in September/October 2018. Both full-time and part-time study are possible (those planning to study part-time may wish to discuss this with the supervisor before applying).

References

Baranowski DB, Flatau MK, Flatau PJ, Matthews AJ, 2016: Impact of atmospheric convectively-coupled Kelvin waves on upper ocean variability. J. Geophys. Res., 121, 2045-2059. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015JD024150)

Joshi M, Stringer M, van der Wiel K, O'Callaghan A, Blackburn M, Fueglistaler S, 2014: IGCM4: A fast, parallel and flexible intermediate climate model. Geosci. Model Develop. Disc., 7, 5517-5545. (http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/gmdd-7-5517-2014)

Matthews AJ, Pickup G, Peatman SC, Clews P, Martin J, 2013: The effect of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on station rainfall and river level in the Fly River system, Papua New Guinea. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 10926-10935. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgrd.50865)

Wheeler M, Weickmann KM, 2001: Real-time monitoring and prediction of modes of coherent synoptic to intraseasonal tropical variability. Mon. Weath. Rev., 129, 2677-2694. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(2001)129%3c2677:RTMAPO%3e2.0.CO;2)

Yang GY, Hoskins BJ, Slingo JM, 2007: Convectively coupled equatorial waves. Part I: Horizontal and vertical structures. J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 3406-3423. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1175%2FJAS4017.1)

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Observing the ocean surface layers with autonomous underwater vehicles

Figure 2. Optimally interpolated temperature (°C) on 3 December 2011, measured by a Seaglider in the equatorial Indian Ocean. The vertical lines show the individual glider profiles. The development of a surface diurnal warm layer during the afternoon can clearly be seen. Adapted from Matthews et al. (2014).

Project Rationale

The detailed vertical structure of the ocean near its surface has a major impact on how the ocean exchanges heat and momentum with the atmosphere, which then affects weather and climate. However, this near-surface structure is difficult to measure accurately with conventional oceanographic observations. The recent proliferation in the use of ocean gliders has provided a potential new data source of these near-surface measurements. Gliders are ideally suited to measure near-surface ocean characteristics, as they are streamlined and free flying, and do not disturb the delicate near-surface structures they are attempting to measure. For example, recent glider observations in the Indian Ocean have revealed the detailed structures of diurnally formed surface warm layers (Figure 2) in the upper few metres of the ocean. However, gliders are normally ballasted and optimised for flight at mid-depths. Together with the standard parameters used for surface manoeuvres at the beginning and end of each dive, the glider flight characteristics are sub-optimal for obtaining the best possible near-surface measurements. This project will investigate the effect of optimising glider flight characteristics on the quality of near-surface measurements.

Methodology

The student will liaise with all glider missions run out of UEA and SAMS during the project. Once each glider is correctly trimmed and is gathering high quality data, a small number of dives will be used to evaluate the improvement in near-surface data to changes in a number of glider flight parameters (associated with general flight and near-surface manoeuvres). A glider mission typically generates 500-1000 dives, so this will not be detrimental to the overall mission. The student will also be part of the piloting team in each of these missions. In parallel, the student will use the large data base of glider dives already generated by the UEA and SAMS glider groups, to evaluate the effect of glider flight parameter changes on near-surface data quality from historical missions. A set of recommendations will be developed, to optimise both near-surface measurements but at minimal cost to the quality of deeper measurements. The science questions to be addressed are the formation of surface diurnal warm layers, barrier layers, and near-surface mixing processes, and their impact on ocean-atmosphere fluxes.

Training

The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial / government / policy partners. The student will be registered and hosted in the Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) at UEA in Norwich but will spend time based at SAMS in Oban working with engineers to share best practice for glider operations. Specific training will include:

  • ocean glider piloting, operation, and data analysis
  • oceanography, ocean dynamics, ocean physics
  • computing and processing of large data sets
  • seagoing and marine data collection skills
  • use of glider hydrodynamical models use for optimising glider flight characteristics and near-surface measurements
    Funding:
    This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NEXUSS Centre for Doctoral Training. Undertaking a PhD with the NEXUSS CDT will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD. Selected candidates who meet RCUK's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC/EPSRC studentship; in 2017/18, the stipend is £ 14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC/EPSRC funding can be used to cover tuition fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources. This PhD studentship is expected to begin in September/October 2018. Both full-time and part-time study are possible (those planning to study part-time may wish to discuss this with the supervisor before applying).
    References

    Matthews AJ, Baranowski DB, Heywood KJ, Flatau PJ, Schmidtko S, 2014: The surface diurnal warm layer in the Indian Ocean during CINDY/DYNAMO. J. Climate, 27, 9101-9122.

    Webber BGM, Matthews AJ, Heywood KJ, Kaiser J, Schmidtko S, 2014: Seaglider observations of equatorial Indian Ocean Rossby waves associated with the Madden-Julian Oscillation.J. Geophys. Res., 119, 3714-3731.

    Queste BY, Fernand L, Jickells TD, Heywood KJ, Hind AJ, 2016: Drivers of summer oxygen depletion in the central North Sea. Biogeosci., 13, 1209-1222.

    Dale AC, Barth JA, Levine MD, Austin JA, 2008: Observations of mixed layer restratification by onshore surface transport following wind reversal in a coastal upwelling region. J. Geophys. Res. (Oceans), 113, C01010, doi: 10.1029/2007JC004128

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Created: Fri Nov 24 02:03:26 2017