School of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
University of Wollongong, Australia

PhD Opportunity - Controls on tidewater glacier
retreat in Alaska

$27,596 pa (for 3 years)

Sea level rose by 0.19 m over the last century (1901-2010) and glaciers accounted for 90% of sea level rise from melting of the cryosphere from 1971-2010. Glaciers are also expected to be the greatest contributor to eustatic sea level change in the present century with predictions of an increase of 0.26-0.55 m, and up to 1 m for the highest representative concentration pathway. However, the models used to derive sea level predictions are based only on an assessment of the glacier surface mass balance; they do not incorporate further ice mass loss due to a change in ice dynamics, such as increased calving from tidewater glaciers. This omission is a significant source of uncertainty in future sea level predictions.

This project aims to improve our understanding of the feedbacks and timescales involved in the tidewater glacier cycle and the response to climate change. About one quarter of the sea level rise over the last 50 years is estimated to have come from ice masses bordering the Gulf of Alaska making these glaciers globally significant. The fastest retreat has been seen in tidewater glaciers, such as in Glacier Bay, where the ice front retreated 100 km, and since 1982 in Columbia Bay. We seek two PhD students to work on representative tidewater systems and use a variety of tools to study the history of the glaciers including 2D flowline modelling, photogrammetry, feature tracking and output from a new climate reanalysis. The PhD students will work alongside a team of scientists from Australia, UK, USA and Svalbard who will contribute and provide guidance on geomorphological mapping, dating using cosmogenic nuclides, glacier reconstruction, remote sensing, and climate reanalysis to the project.

We are seeking graduates with a strong academic record with experience in glaciology and/or the Earth sciences. Applicants must hold a first class honours degree, Masters by research or equivalent and/or publications. The students should have strong numerical skills and experience with coding is required. There is also the possibility to participate in field work. Each student will receive $1,950 per annum to assist with project costs and up to $3,000 per student over the course of their candidature for travel. The students will also be supported by an Australian Research Council project budget.

The University of Wollongong is committed to an equal opportunity working environment. Applicants should email a cover letter as an expression of interest, outlining their academic background and skillset, along with their CV and referee's contact details before 30 November, 2018 to Tim.Barrows(at) The start date is 4 March, 2019. Please contact Prof. Timothy Barrows for further details


posted: 12 November 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.