Antarctic oceanography in the warm past

The Antarctic Southern Ocean across the Mid Pleistocene Transition and warm interglacials: Insights into climate feedback mechanisms

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International


$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Climate change in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean involves many coupled responses between the ocean, the cryosphere and the atmosphere. The geological record, in particular the glacial cycles of the past ~ 3 million years, provides insight into the coupled ocean-ice-climate system response, which can help to inform future climate projections. This period encompasses interglacial climates with warmer temperatures than today; studying the Antarctic response to these warm interglacials provides valuable insight into future climate states.

The Mid Pleistocene Transition (MPT; ~1.25 - 0.65 Myr BP), represents another valuable target to test our understanding of climate dynamics. During this transition glacial cycles shifted from being roughly symmetrical and about 41 ka duration to stronger, and sawtoothed cycles of ~ 100 ka (Herbert, 2023). Antarctica and the Southern Ocean feature prominently in hypotheses to explain the MPT. The transition is hypothesised to have initiated when the East Antarctic Ice Sheet became marine-based (Raymo et al., 2006), or when the volume of the Antarctic ice sheet increased abruptly (Elderfield et al., 2012). Others propose that the transition was associated with reduced exchange between surface and deep waters in the Antarctic zone (Hasenfratz et al., 2019), or decreasing atmospheric CO2 driven by iron fertilisation of the Southern Ocean (Chalk et al., 2017).

This project will use marine sediment records from the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean to characterise the response of this region during key intervals of the Pleistocene. Focusing on sediment records from East Antarctica, this project will use a multi-proxy approach to reconstruct biological productivity, ocean ventilation and ice sheet behaviour across glacial cycles before, during and after the MPT, and during warm interglacials of the late Pleistocene. These new reconstructions will provide context for the first continuous ice core records extending beyond 1 million years.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Zanna Chase


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend co-funded with 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.

Additional funding

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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


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

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • 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:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Relevant science degree with chemistry and/or geoscience
  • Good communication (writing, oral)
  • Good quantitative skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Chemical laboratory experience, basic coding

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Prof Zanna Chase to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • 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.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the 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.

Apply now Explore other projects

Why the University of Tasmania?

Worldwide reputation for research excellence

Quality supervision and support

Tasmania offers a unique study lifestyle experience