Biogeochemistry of EAC eddies

Quantifying the current and future role of East Australian Current eddies in ocean biogeochemistry and productivity

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The East Australian Current (EAC) is one of Australia’s strongest and most important ocean currents, flowing south along the densely populated east coast to ~32°S where it forms large (~150 km diameter) mesoscale eddies. These eddies are the weather systems of the ocean, retaining and transporting heat, salt, and biogeochemical tracers, impacting regional ocean circulation, ecosystems, and climate (Everett et al., 2012).

Eddies have been primarily studied in isolation in the deep ocean, away from the influence of boundary currents, topography and other eddies (McGillicuddy, 2016). However, recent observations (Roughan et al., 2017) show that along the continental shelf, eddies interact with topography, changing shape and structure. Models vastly underestimate eddy tilt and over-represent the observed vertical structure, yet this phenomenon remains largely unexplored, and the biogeochemical response is unknown. The primary objective of this project is to reveal the physical and biogeochemical 3-D structure of EAC eddies and scale up their impact to the entire EAC.

The student is expected to participate a research cruise in September 2023 (MNF shiptime has been granted). Additional data sets to be examined include: biogeochemical Argo data, historical ship observations (including Triaxus data) and model output from the ROMS model of the EAC (Rocha et al., 2019) and recent ACCESS_OM201BGC runs.

Key research topics/chapters:

  1. Description of eddy biogeochemistry based on voyage, satellite and BGC-Argo data
  2. Improved understanding of the link between biogeochemistry and eddy dynamics, including tilting and eddy-eddy interaction
  3. Upscaling of the impact of eddies on biogeochemistry to the southern EAC region

Suggested reading:

  • Everett et al. (2012), GRL, doi: 10.1029/2012GL053091
  • McGillicuddy (2016), Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci., doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015606
  • Roughan et al. (2017), JGR-Oceans, doi: 10.1002/2016JC012241
  • Rocha et al. (2019), Geosci. Model Dev., doi: 10.5194/gmd-12-441-2019

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Peter Strutton


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)

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

If successful, applicants will also receive a Quantitative Marine Science (QMS) top-up scholarship of $5,000 per annum for 3.5 years. This scholarship is jointly funded from the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.

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:

  • 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:

  • Hons/MSc degree in physics, mathematics, oceanography or a related discipline (quantitative physical or biological science or engineering)
  • High level of programming experience, preferably in Matlab, R or Python
  • Familiarity with ocean biogeochemistry and physical oceanography
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, demonstrated by the production of a thesis or published manuscript and seminars or an interview

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience running ocean circulation or biogeochemical 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, Prof Peter Strutton l 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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