Climate variability in Antarctica

Climate variability in satellite observations of Antarctic Ice Sheet change

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This project focuses on the reasons why the mass of the Antarctic Ice Sheet changes and hence why Antarctica’s contribution to sea level varies over time. The project will make use of two different satellite datasets: 1) revolutionary estimates of ice sheet mass change from the GRACE and GRACE-Follow On missions; and 2) incredibly fine detailed estimates of ice sheet elevation change from a range of satellite altimetry missions.

The particular focus on the project will be the role of large-scale climate variability in forcing ice sheet mass change. It is now established that major modes of climate variability, most clearly El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), affect the ice sheet via the atmosphere and ocean, resulting in (for example) ice shelf melt rates. This project will use both GRACE and altimetry measurements to study these variations over the grounded ice sheet. They will be interpreted using a range of climate model outputs and information on a range of climate modes, including ENSO and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM).

The project will contribute to the $25M ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS; a collaboration of eight leading universities and ~40 of Australia’s leading Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientists. The candidate will benefit from the substantial community of researchers within ACEAS and receive training in Antarctic science, policy, law and governance, and other support from the ACEAS Graduate Training Coordinator.

Candidates will gain advanced skills in analysis of geodetic data and various climate datasets, and generic skills in communication, data analysis, problem solving, and critical thinking. There is substantial employment demand for both these specific and generic skills, within academia, industry, and government.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Matt King


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

This project is part of the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS). Candidates will be considered and assessed for ACEAS top-up scholarship eligibility (valued at $5,000 per annum for 3.5 years) upon ranking of the applicants by our GRCs and alignment of the project with ACEAS.

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Physics
  • Maths
  • Engineering
  • Geodesy
  • or other quantitative Earth science

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Matt King to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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