Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Glacier Modelling

Contract Type: Fixed-term for 30 months

Faculty: Faculty of Social Science

As one of the largest Geography departments in the UK, the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield has a vibrant community of undergraduates, postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers. The department enjoys a long-standing international reputation for academic research led by staff who are passionate about exploring and teaching on some of the biggest issues facing the world today.

We are seeking to recruit a Research Associate in Climate Modelling to design and conduct numerical modelling experiments of past and future climate of the Andes. This is part of a new NERC funded project, Deplete and Retreat: The Future of Andean Water Towers, led by Jeremy Ely, to investigate the impact of climate change on snow and ice resources across the Andes.

We seek to appoint someone with experience of glacier or ice sheet modelling, with a background in glaciology, and ideally with some experience of statistical methods of data analysis.

Climate change is depleting the stores of water held in snow and ice within Andean water towers. These changes are driven by a complex climatology; snowfall amounts are increasingly delivered by fewer, more extreme precipitation events. The steep topography of the Andes represents a challenge for climate and environmental models, especially because orographic processes greatly influence precipitation phase and snowfall rates. This makes understanding past, and potential future, changes to mountainous water resources challenging.

This project addresses this challenge by assessing the sensitivity of water resources in 10 key catchments across the Andes to the changing supplies of snow and ice by integrating observations with climate, ice-flow and hydrology models.

As part of this project, you will design and conduct glacier modelling experiments. Using output from climate models, you will design and run perturbed parameter ensemble experiments which span past climate conditions (back to 1850), through to potential future climate scenarios (up to 2100). You will also examine the response of glaciers to extreme weather conditions. Data on glacier extent, thickness, and mass balance, will be used to assess model performance. The simulations will be used to build an emulator, to aid sensitivity and uncertainty analyses. Furthermore, output from the glacier modelling will be used in future hydrological modelling experiments, to determine potential impacts on Andean water resources. If desired, there are opportunities for you to undertake fieldwork and for an extended research placement in South America.

You will be supervised by Dr Jeremy Ely (Sheffield University) and Dr Tamsin Edwards (King’s College London), who are running the ice-flow modelling work package of the project. The position is in Sheffield, where Co-Investigators Julie Jones and Sihan Li are based, but you will also work closely with the wider project team including Bethan Davies (Newcastle University), Tom Matthews (King’s College London), Robert McNabb (Ulster University) Wouter Buytaert (Imperial College London), and Jonathan Carrivick (University of Leeds).

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