Two PhD study opportunities on Extreme Weather Events under Climate Change

University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Closing date: 01 March 2020

Funding is available for two PhD projects as part of an exciting new research programme on Extreme Events and the Emergence of Climate Change in New Zealand.

The two PhD projects will involve research on:

(1) identifying the dynamical and thermodynamic processes operating in the atmosphere and ocean that lead to Extreme Weather Events (EWEs);

(2) evaluating the ability of numerical weather prediction models and regional climate models to simulate the processes leading to EWEs.

For project (1), the initial focus will be on the impact of the storm tracks since most extreme precipitation in the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes is associated with their related frontal regions. An analysis of the statistical correspondence between cyclones and the occurrence and intensity of hazards such as flooding will also be a key early goal. Blocking events will be examined where appropriate. By the end of the project, the drivers of EWE will have been determined by examining the large-scale setting during and prior to specific EWEs.

For project (2), the ability of Numerical Weather Prediction models and Regional Climate Models to simulate natural variability and anthropogenic forcings, both of which influence the positions of storm tracks and the occurrence and persistence of blocking, will be evaluated. This evaluation will pinpoint model components and inputs that lead to unrepresentative forecasts/projections, with a focus on precipitation extremes.

The successful candidates will be based at University of Canterbury in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences and will be supervised by climate research staff at Canterbury University and other partner organisations. The project is part of a wider programme on extreme events and the emergence of climate change led by Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and will involve regular interactions with scientists at VUW, Bodeker Scientific, NIWA, Manaaki Whenua, and MetService.

The university is seeking highly qualified and motivated scientists. Candidates are expected to have a BSc Honours or Masters degree in Meteorology, Physics or an equivalent, when they start their project. Experience with numerical modelling of weather or climate, and advanced statistical data analysis in the Earth sciences would be welcome. A willingness to cooperate in a geographically distributed team is also required. You are expected to be able to communicate your results in oral and written form in very good English. Applicants should submit an academic transcript, a CV and the name of two academic referees before the application deadline on 01 March 2020.

For further information or application enquiries, contact Professor Adrian McDonald by email at


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