3 Fully funded PhD student positions in ice sheet/cap and climate modelling in the glacial dynamics group

Website Memorial University of Newfoundland

Position 1: Fully funded PhD studentship in coupled climate and ice sheet modelling of the last glacial cycle
Project: A Bayesian calibration of a global coupled ice and climate model for the last glacial cycle. From LGM onward, glacial geology and RSL data provide a strong set of constraints which are a challenge to fit. Conversely, prior to LGM, there are few constraints on ice sheet evolution aside from global (accurately far-field) sea level proxies. However there are many more constraints on regional climate from ice core, terrestrial, and marine core records. This calibration will therefore focus on pre-LGM global ice sheet and climate evolution relying more on paleoclimate constraints.

This project will also examine the stability of the last glacial cycle to evaluate which features of the cycle were robust and which are sensitive to noise in the system (eg from large volcanic events). Through sensitivity experiments, the project will furthermore isolate the role of each ice sheet in the last glacial cycle.

The project will rely on a hierarchy of coupled ice and climate models including the LCice2.0 coupled GSM glacial system model and LOVECLIM EMIC (as detailed in Bahadory and Tarasov, GMD, 2018, Bahadory et al, TCD 2020) as well as a version coupled to Plasim (Andres and Tarasov, CP 2019). Depending on student interest and progress, the project may also include refinement of a Climate Generator: A Bayesian stochastic emulator of expensive General circulation climate models for glacial cycle modelling contexts.

Position 2: Fully funded PhD studentship in quantifying coupled ice sheet and climate feedbacks on centennial to millennial scales
Project: In collaboration with other members of the MUN glacial dynamics group (including position 1 above), the student will examine the fully coupled ice and climate interactions underlying millennial to centennial scale variability, including Heinrich events and the data-rich H1/MWP1a/Younger Dryas sequence. This project will use the LCice2.0 GSM/Plasim coupled ice and climate model.

To date, most model-based studies of centennial to millennial glacial earth system variability have relied on either forced climate or forced ice sheets. Studies to date have made clear that changing ice sheet elevation and sheet/shelf extent, changing ocean gateways, and changing spatio-temporal distributions of meltwater and iceberg discharge can all impact climate. Changing climate will in turn impact each ice sheet and therefore each of the above related ice sheet and topographic characteristics. What is not clear is what happens when ice sheets and climate are fully coupled. It is even more unclear how this coupled system will responds to noise in the system, be it the climate impact of a large scale volcanic event or noise representing the impact of unresolved processes in model components.

This project will tackle the above questions and thereby improve our understanding coupled ice and climate system instabilities.

Position 3: Fully funded PhD studentship in Bayesian Calibration of last glacial cycle models for the three major ice caps
Project: Calibrate last glacial cycle models for the Tibetan, Icelandic, and Patagonian ice caps. In collaboration with regional experts for each ice sheet, relevant data constraints for each ice sheet will be assembled and quality controlled. Appropriate error models for each type of data constraint will be formulated. The resultant databases will be used to calibrate the 3D Glacial Systems Model (GSM) for the last glacial cycle for each ice cap.

The calibration work include detailed model structural uncertainty assessment and possible refinement of the Bayesian calibration methodology used in Tarasov et al (2012) for the deglacial North American ice complex.

This project will involve collaboration with position 1 above for developing an appropriate distribution of climate forcings and analyzing the impact of each ice cap on the last glacial cycle.

Applications for any of the positions are invited from candidates with an interest in modelling ice sheet and climate interactions and Earth Systems science. Applicants must have their BSc and/or Masters degree in physics, geophysics, applied mathematics, or closely related fields. They must be fluent in English. Applicants must also be interested in working in a collaborative environment in computationally intensive projects.

To apply for any of the three positions:
Required skills:

  • Some experience in coding in F90 (or F95), C, or Python, and analysis packages such as OCTAVE/MATLAB, R, CDO, …
  • Knowledge of general physics and some exposure to fluid dynamics or continuum mechanics (even better with understanding of geophysical fluid dynamics and/or atmospheric or ocean physics or glaciology)
  • Fluency in relevant maths (linear/matrix algebra, partial differential equations, and vector calculus)
  • Familiarity with Linux

The group has a dedicated 820 core cluster and access to further computational resources through Compute Canada.

Associated benefit: the spectacular natural environment of Newfoundland, Canada

Start date: Sept 1/2021

Details of graduate studies in Physics and Physical Oceanography at Memorial University can be found at http://www.mun.ca/physics/graduate_students/

Interested students should contact:

Lev Tarasov
Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, NL A1B 3X7

include the following:
1. A cover letter including your name, academic status and contact details, as well as the names and contact details of two faculty advisers from whom confidential letters may be sought.
2. A statement of interest including long-term academic plans, research interests,…
3. A short resume/CV, including a list of courses taken, and grades.
4. A self evaluation of strong and weak research skills, skills you particularly want to develop, and likes and dislikes associated with research and modelling.

To apply for this job email your details to lev@mun.ca