PhD studentship in “Impact of Arctic snow on soil and sea ice”

Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Closing date: 30 April 2019

Project description:
The thermal properties of Arctic snow play a vital role in mediating energy exchanges between the atmosphere and tundra soils or sea ice. Thick snowpacks with low thermal conductivity will insulate the substrate during cold winters leading to warmer soils and thinner sea ice. Thin snowpacks with high thermal conductivity have the opposite effect.

Permafrost active layer dynamics as well as sea ice formation and duration are therefore strongly controlled by the mass and properties of overlying seasonal snow. However, our understanding of spatial variability in snow properties and snow mass is poorly constrained in Arctic environments, principally as we are strongly limited by current remote sensing capabilities and accurate retrieval of snow mass. This project will allow you to explore ways of removing these limitations through measurements and modelling for future development in snow remote sensing:

  1. Measurements of snow properties and snow mass from a wide range of tundra and sea ice environments will allow you to create a much-needed robust quantification of variability in Arctic snowpack properties. Opportunities will be made available for you to add to these measurements yourself as part of international field campaigns in Arctic environments (e.g. Trail Valley Creek, NWT, Canada).
  2. Recent advances in modelling of snowpack structure (e.g. Flexible Snow Model) and microwave radiative transfer in snow (e.g. Snow Microwave Radiative Transfer model) will allow you to explore and develop new approaches to spatially distributed simulation of Arctic snow that will directly feed into development of future low-cost satellite mission ideas.

You will be supported to develop your numerical modelling skills, e.g. using high performance computing, and your analyses will feed into international multidisciplinary networks of modelling and monitoring Arctic environmental change. This is a collaborative project externally co-supervised by Dr Chris Derksen (Environment and Climate Change Canada / University of Waterloo, Canada) and Dr Mel Sandells (CORES Science and Engineering Ltd, UK). 

Funding Notes:
The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa), as well as a research and training support budget. The studentship includes fees for Home/EU and International students. This is a collaborative project with University of Waterloo, Canada.

Application Deadline: 30 April 2019

Interview Date: Week commencing 20 May 2019 (via Skype)

Start Date: 1 October 2019

More information and how to apply


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