PhD scholarship opportunities in the Swansea Glaciology Group

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PhD scholarship opportunities in the Swansea Glaciology Group

Murray T.

Hi all

We have PhD scholarship opportunities available in the Glaciology Group at Swansea University – follow the links below for details on how to apply. Closing date is 30th April – please direct queries to the named supervisor.

Project Supervisor: Professor Tavi Murray ([hidden email]) together with Professor Meredith Nettles (Columbia University, USA)

DTC GEO 35 - Quantifying glacier calving in Greenland using glacial earthquakes.

Glacial earthquakes are large amplitude (M~5), long-period (>30s) seismic events which result from the calving of icebergs at lightly-grounded marine-terminating outlet glaciers. Calving events are the cause of about half of mass lost from the Greenland ice sheet, and the numbers of glacial earthquakes in Greenland have increased 7-fold in the last 2 decades and their occurrence has spread northwards. This studentship aims to explore the use of glacial earthquakes as a means of remotely sensing calving losses from the ice sheet, in particular (i) using GPS and other data already collected at Helheim Glacier in south-east Greenland to quantify relationships between the icebergs calved (e.g., iceberg size, aspect ratio etc) and the characteristics of the resulting glacial earthquake; (ii) comparison of the changing spatial and temporal occurrence of glacial earthquakes with calving records from remotely sensed data around the Greenland ice sheet. The project may also involve the use of analogue laboratory measurements.


Project Supervisor: Professor Adrian Luckman ([hidden email]); Dr Stephen Cornford; Professor Bernd Kulessa; Professor Doug Benn

DTC GEO 31 - Understanding glacier dynamics by studying surges.

Glacier flow is controlled by basal and lateral shear stresses, which depend on the nature of the ice-bed interface and the availability of melt water; we can learn most about the sub-glacial processes involved by studying glaciers where the dynamics are changing, and glacier surges in particular provide rich examples ice dynamics in transition. Svalbard has a particular concentration of surge-type glaciers, and over the last 4 years we have built up an unrivalled series of velocity observations from TerraSAR-X and Sentinel-1 SAR speckle/feature tracking through more than ten glacier surges that are widely diverse in size, speed and dynamic evolution. There is now a superb, unique opportunity for a PhD student to optimise this remote sensing velocity archive and to develop glacier models and inverse methods to extract a new and improved understanding of glacier dynamic processes from these data.


Project Supervisor: Professor Bernd Kulessa ([hidden email]); Professor Adrian Luckman; Dr Stephen Cornford

DTC GEO 30 - Geophysical field exploration of firn aquifers on ice caps in Svalbard, High Arctic.

In the last few years the major discovery of firn aquifers on Polar ice sheets and glaciers has led to the appreciation that hundreds of gigatonnes of water may be stored within them for years to decades, thus causing major delays in the ice masses’ contributions to sea level rise. The hydrological processes that control water flow and storage within these aquifers are not well known, however, so that numerical models that seek to predict the timings of future sea level rise contributions are subject to considerable uncertainty. An exciting opportunity has now arisen for an exceptional PhD candidate to join an ongoing project lead by the Norwegian Polar Institute in Svalbard, High Arctic, to conduct seismic, radar and/or geoelectric geophysical and hydrogeological surveys to understand the physical properties of and hydrological processes in firn aquifers towards better model predictions of meltwater runoff and sea level rise contribution.


Project Supervisor: Professor Bernd Kulessa ([hidden email]); Professor Adrian Luckman; Dr Stephen Cornford

DTC GEO 27 - Geophysical field exploration of Sorsdal Glacier, Princess Elizabeth Land, East Antarctica.             

Compared to ice stream dynamics in West Antarctica, very little is currently known about the impact of meltwater on the flow of major marine-terminating outlet glaciers from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, many of which are grounded well below sea level and thus susceptible to ocean and hydrological forcing. An international team of scientists, funded by the Australian Antarctic Science Program and including BK as a Co-Investigator, is currently combining field observations with satellite remote sensing and numerical ice flow modelling to understand the dynamic response of the Sorsdal Glacier – ideally located close to Davis station in the Australian sector of Princess Elizabeth Land, East Antarctica – to hydrological and ocean forcing. An exciting opportunity has now arisen for an exceptional PhD candidate to join the project and conduct seismic, radar and/or geoelectric geophysical surveys on Sorsdal Glacier in the austral summer of 2017/18 (or/ and 2018/19), collaborating with scientists from Australia, Canada and the USA in elucidating the susceptibility of the glacier to climate forcing.


Project Supervisor: Dr Stephen Cornford ([hidden email]); Professor Adrian Luckman; Professor Bernd Kulessa

DTC GEO 26 - Mapping the mechanical strength of the Larsen C ice shelf through satellite data assimilation.             

The European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellites, launched in 2014 and 2016, reveal Antarctic ice dynamics at high resolution throughout the year and have been used to track the weekly progress of a now 200km long rift across the Larsen C ice shelf. Although there is a well-established theory of stress concentration and crack propagation, it is complicated by spatial variation in the structure of ice shelves, which comprise a mixture of land ice and marine ice.  The studentship will aim to assimilate Sentinel-1 observations into an ice shelf model, mapping the pattern of mechanical strength of the Larsen C ice shelf to provide insight into its near future resilience or fragility.


Project Supervisor: Dr John Hiemstra ([hidden email]); Dr Sietse Los; Dr Cynthia Froyd

DTC GEO 22 - Thawing permafrost in a warming Arctic region.

The ongoing thawing of permafrost in parts of Alaska is resulting in significant but transient changes in lake and vegetation patterns. Along with structural deformation in the active ground layer (e.g. involutions, ground ice, gelifluction), such changes determine to a large extent how, where and how much methane and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. This project will use satellite imagery (e.g. Landsat, MODIS and ASTER), climate data and field measurements and observations to map and track such changes over the past five decades, with the objective to understand the intricacies and feedbacks in the response of Arctic landscapes to planetary warming. Fieldwork costs can be covered by BGS support (additional external supervision envisaged).     


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