The impact of Antarctic sea ice on simulated Southern Ocean watermasses

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Despite being only 6% of the global ocean’s surface area, the Southern Ocean dominates the ocean’s absorption of anthropogenic heat and carbon (Frolicher et al., 2015), with critical implications for the planet’s response to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Absorbing this heat and carbon, and locking it away in the deep ocean, relies on a complex interplay of wind and buoyancy forcing that drives exchanges of sea water between the surface and deep ocean, that is poorly understood. There is strong evidence that Antarctic sea ice is an important factor in this process, by forcing surface salinity changes in the polar Southern Ocean (Abernathey et al., 2016, Haumann et al., 2016).

How well these processes are represented in coupled climate models, such as those used by the IPCC, and how that impacts global climate projections has not been explored. We do know, however, that climate models show a wide spread in how they represent Antarctic sea ice process (Schroeter et al., 2018) and Southern Ocean watermasses (Sallee et al., 2013).

In this project, the student will explore how Antarctic sea ice, and in particular its role in transporting fresh water from the Antarctic coastline to the open ocean, affects how well climate models in the latest Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) represent the major Southern Ocean water masses. Furthermore, the student will quantify how this relates to simulated ocean heat and carbon uptake under current and future climate conditions, and the resulting implications for global climate sensitivity.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Will Hobbs


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 top-up scholarship of $6,000 per annum for 3.5 years. This scholarship is funded from the Australian Government as part of the Antarctic Science Collaboration Initiative program through the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP).

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.

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.  Applicants will be assessed and ranked according to the quality of their basis for entry research degree and institution, prior peer reviewed publications, academic awards, project-specific skills, training or relevant industry experience, referee’s reports and supervisory support.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Bachelors degree (with Honours) or Masters degree in a Mathematical or Physical Science discipline
  • Strong mathematical skills
  • Demonstrated experience in individual research (e.g. Honours thesis, Masters dissertation)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Bachelors/Masters degree in oceanography, meteorology, or a related earth-science subject
  • Experience using a high-level scripting language for data analysis/visualisation (e.g. Python, MATLAB, NCL)
  • Experience in analysis or ocean, atmosphere or coupled model output.

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 Will Hobbs 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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