Local recruitment: PhD: Understanding Large-Scale Drivers of Extreme Rainfall in the South Pacific

University of Newcastle

Callaghan NSW, Australia 🇦🇺

PhD Scholarship

Research Topic: Understanding large-scale drivers of extreme rainfall in the South Pacific during the Holocene by means of Isotope-enabled General Circulation Models (GCMs). This PhD project will focus on establishing and verifying mechanisms for shifts in extreme rainfall for the South Pacific to reduce uncertainty in future projections.

Both Australia and our Pacific Island neighbours are highly vulnerable to heavy precipitation events that lead to flooding and inundation. Shifts in background conditions (e.g. atmospheric CO2 concentration, ocean-atmosphere interactions and teleconnections), can result in non-linear changes in extreme event frequency, leading to uncertainty about the future risk of extreme rainfall. One of our biggest challenges in understanding how extreme rainfall will evolve in the coming decades is our relatively short observational records, which are an inadequate baseline to capture a full spectrum of pre-industrial trends.

This PhD project is part of an ARC Discovery project in which we will extend the instrumental record of extreme events to the whole Holocene (the last ca. 11,700 years), focusing on some of its periods of most dramatic change (i.e. 8.2; 4.2; 2.8ka events). Improving our understanding of this variability in past and present climates will help to better constrain future climate change projections and decrease their range of uncertainty.

The PhD candidate will use General Circulation Models(GCMs) to better understand the large-scale drivers of extreme rainfalls across atmospheric and oceanic background conditions for the three pre-industrial major climatic shifts. Simulations will be “calibrated” to isotopic data generated from cave stalagmites across the Pacific (part of the wider project) using the isotope-enabled Community Earth System Model (iCESM) and estimates of external (e.g. volcanic aerosol, solar activity, GHG) and internal (e.g. ENSO) forcing. The successful candidate will be trained in GCM modelling at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada during an extended visit and also have the opportunity to develop analytical skills in developing isotope chronologies from stalagmites. On completion the PhD candidate will have gained highly desirable skills in climate modelling, in addition to the transferable skills that are typical outcomes from a PhD in science (communication, enquiry, analysis, programming etc).

PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $29,863 per annum (2023 rate) indexed annually. For a PhD candidate, the living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years. Scholarships also include up to $1,500 relocation allowance.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Danielle Verdon-Kidd

Available to: Domestic students


Eligibility Criteria

The ideal candidate would have a Ba or Masters in statistics, data science, mathematics or physics with a good understanding of atmospheric processes. Statistical analytical skills are required for this project with experience in data processing software (e.g., Matlab, R or Python).

The applicant will need to meet the minimum eligibility criteria for admission.

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to Danielle.Verdon@newcastle.edu.au by 5pm on 31 January 2023.

Applications Close 31 January 2023

ContactAssociate Professor Danielle Verdon-Kidd
Phone+61 2 4921 5749





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development