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PhD position Modelling past Ice Streams of North America at
Sheffield, UK
Sheffield Hallam University
  • Graduate Position

Applications are invited for Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) PhD scholarships in The Department of Natural and Built Environment, commencing 2 October 2023.

The scholarship is for three and a half years full-time study (pro-rata part-time) and covers home PhD fees, currently £4596, and pays an annual stipend at the living wage foundation rate of £18,178 per year in the academic year 22/23.

The GTA scholarship scheme aims to develop highly skilled postgraduate researchers. More information can be found here:

The project is part of a Graduate Teaching Assistant scheme which aims to develop highly skilled postgraduate researchers who are well prepared to enter a career in academia or research by providing structured opportunities for development and experience in learning, teaching and assessment activity. The successful applicant will carry out up to 180 hours of teaching or teaching-related activity per academic year. This activity forms part of the scholarship award and there is no additional payment for it.  More information can be found here.

The Department of the Natural and Built Environment is a multidisciplinary department, comprising three subject groups: Geography, Environment and Planning, Built Environment, and Architecture. Geoscience is one of the most research-active parts of the Department, with staff engaged in a range of research activity at a wide range of scales, from local natural flood management to global ice sheet modelling.

Project title: Simulating Ice Stream Variability for the last North American Ice Sheet Complex

Ice sheets primarily deliver ice to the oceans through narrow regions of fast flow, called ice streams. It is therefore important to understand ice stream behaviour to reliably predict future ice-sheet mass evolution and corresponding sea level change. We know from studying ice sheets of the past that ice stream flow is variable; they can migrate, change speed, and spontaneously activate or shutdown. However, computer simulations of future ice sheet change often ignore this variability, and therefore may underestimate the scale of future ice sheet change.

Simulating past ice sheets, where ice stream change is better constrained, can be the key to improving simulations of future change. In this project, you will use the BISICLES numerical ice sheet model to simulate the ice streams of the last North American Ice Sheet Complex. BISICLES can accurately and efficiently simulate rapid ice sheet change and ice stream evolution, and has previously been applied to simulating the last British Irish Ice Sheet. There is scope in this project to break new ground in understanding ice stream contributions to rapid collapse events, marine-terrestrial transition, model-data comparison, and unifying the palaeo and contemporary modelling approach.

Research questions:

1.      Can the BISICLES ice sheet model simulate ice streams of the last North American Ice Sheet?

2.      How does ice stream behaviour evolve through the deglaciation of the North American Ice Sheet Complex?

3.      What is the role of ice streams in rapid marine and terrestrial collapse events during the deglaciation of the last North American Ice Sheet Complex?


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