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ENV East Doctoral Training Partnership


Applications to the EnvEast Doctoral Training Partnership are now closed.

Below you can browse some of the PhD projects we have previously funded; if you would like to be informed when applications open, or if you have any questions about EnvEast and our application process, please email us.

Projects previously funded by EnvEast


Ocean-ice interaction in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, Antarctica

Project description

Imagine that the ocean is like a large gin and tonic. When you add an icecube, the level in the glass goes up. When the ice melts, the level in the glass doesn't change, because the ice is floating. When ice resting on land in Antarctica flows into the sea, either as an iceberg or as meltwater, sea level around the world goes up. If the same amount of water returned to the Antarctic as snowfall, the system would be in balance.  However some glaciers in the Antarctic (and Greenland) are melting at a faster rate than they are being replaced. We don't really know why this is happening, and if we can't understand why, it's difficult to predict future sea level.

When glaciers reach the sea, they float over the seawater, as an ice shelf. One suggestion is that the ocean is providing more heat to melt the ice than previously thought. In early 2014 we are leading a scientific expedition to one of the fastest melting glaciers, Pine Island Glacier in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. We will deploy some instruments in the water near the ice shelf, to see how and why the warm ocean water gets close to the ice. Is it the wind that forces the water there? Does it arrive all year round? What is the role of sea ice? What happens to the meltwater?

We plan to use some novel equipment in the Antarctic, such as gluing tiny temperature and salinity sensors onto the fur of seals who remain in the area over winter. During the cruise we’ll also make intensive measurements of the physical processes occurring on the continental shelf and slope and close to the floating ice shelf. This will include deployment of Seagliders, autonomous vehicles that survey the ocean in unprecedented detail. Looking at these data sets together should give us a better understanding of how the heat is getting to the glacier, what effect it has, and what happens to the meltwater. Understanding the seasonal changes in these processes will be the goal of this PhD project.

This PhD project will be part of the Ocean2ice project, led by UEA, that includes partners at the Universities of St Andrews and Southampton and the British Antarctic Survey.
  • Start date 1 October 2014