Understanding compound climate extremes

Improving our understanding of compound climate extremes

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement



$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Climate and weather extremes may occur over weeks, seasons, or even years.  The IPCC has characterised compound extremes in particular as an area of 'deep uncertainty', with little understood about their probability of occurrence or cascading impacts. Instrumental evidence and climate projections indicate increased frequency and magnitude of both single event and compound extremes over recent decades and into the future, respectively. The impacts of some types of extremes – both single and compound - can be captured in palaeoclimate records. Because the impacts of more frequent or severe climate extremes are perceived as major threats to social and environmental well-being across the globe, there is an urgent need to better characterise these extremes. This will help to better inform infrastructure design and land management planning.

This PhD project will play a key role in improving our understanding of extremes. This project will involve compiling and analysing globally gridded data sets and instrumental records at scales commensurate with types of climate extremes recorded in palaeoclimate records. It will also include calibration of a record of palaeo-extremes and comparison with long runs of CSIRO's climate model to identify likely drivers of temporally and spatially compound events in the palaeoclimate record. You will be located in the School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences (https://www.utas.edu.au/technology-environments-design/geography-and-spatial-sciences) and will work within the dynamic Climate Futures Group (https://www.utas.edu.au/sciences-engineering/research/climate-futures). The project will require extensive collaboration with researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, CSIRO (https://research.csiro.au/dfp/ ), and colleagues in the Northern Hemisphere. It will also require a willingness to engage with large-scale databases. This project will provide a student with excellent communication skills, the ability to develop a wide collaborative network and advanced skills in numerical analysis.  These skills underpin future leadership roles in the climate sciences.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Kathy Allen


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend  funded by ARC of $31,500 per annum (2023 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)

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.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Undergraduate degree and Honours (or equivalent) in Geography, mathematics, biological sciences or a related discipline
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Evidence of quantitative skills
  • Programming skills (e.g. R/Matlab/Python)
  • Evidence of ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent communication skills and a high level of proficiency in English

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Familiarity with at least one type of palaeoproxy archive
  • Familiarity with climate models

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, Dr Kathy Allen 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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