We would like the student to start as soon as possible in 2024; start date to be negotiated with the university but between January and June 2024. The PhD studentship is fully funded and is open to international applicants.

Please apply online here https://www.uea.ac.uk/course/phd-doctorate/phd-ocean-mixing-across-the-antarctic-slope-front-heywoodku23scidon/2023-24/feb. Emailed applications cannot be considered. The deadline for applications is 15th November.

Ocean mixing across the Antarctic Slope Front (HEYWOODK_U23SCIDON)

Primary supervisor - Professor Karen Heywood

Supervisory team - Dr Rob Hall, Dr Yixi Zheng

Cold seawater on the continental shelf around Antarctica is separated from warmer waters offshore by the Antarctic Slope Front, associated with near-circumpolar westward flow1. Eddies are believed to facilitate exchange of water masses across the front2,3. This exchange is important for climate through dense waters cascading downslope and ventilating the global ocean and through warmer waters penetrating towards vulnerable ice shelves, thus affecting sea level rise. However we know little about these critical processes – they occur on small spatial and temporal scales so are hard to observe and include in climate models.

This PhD project will use ground-breaking measurements across the Antarctic Slope Front to be collected January-March 2024 during the PICCOLO field campaign, including deployments of autonomous ocean gliders. The multi-institutional, multidisciplinary PICCOLO project assesses the ways in which carbon enters the ocean, is altered by biogeochemical processes, and is carried into the deep ocean.

You will use the glider and ship-based measurements to deduce how the slope current varies spatially and temporally, and quantify turbulent mixing across the front using novel glider microstructure measurements4.

You will gain skills in ocean glider operation, deployment and piloting, joining the UEA Ocean Glider Group. You will collaborate with a wide range of scientists across the PICCOLO team. If available, you could be involved in piloting the gliders during the PICCOLO field campaign. You will learn advanced oceanographic data analysis and interpretation techniques, develop numerical modelling skills, and present your work in PICCOLO workshops, international conferences and peer-reviewed scientific publications. This could lead to a marine-science-focused career in industry, academia, or consultancy.

You will be enthusiastic about learning to understand ocean processes, with a degree in physics, oceanography, natural or environmental sciences or a similar numerate science. We seek someone who could start in the first half of 2024.

Entry Requirements

Applicants to this project must meet the School’s admissions requirements, and the Faculty of Science’s English language requirements for postgraduate researchers.

Acceptable first degree subject(s): Physics, Natural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography, Meteorology or a similar numerate physical science.


This PhD studentship is funded for 3 years by the Faculty of Science and The Amar-Franses and Foster-Jenkins Trust. Funding comprises an annual stipend of £18,622, tuition fees and research costs (for a maximum of 36 months).


  1. Thompson, A. F., Stewart, A. L., Spence, P., & Heywood, K. J. (2018) The Antarctic Slope Current in a changing climate. Reviews of Geophysics, 56, 741–770. [https://doi.org/10.1029/2018RG000624]
  2. Thompson, A.F., K.J. Heywood, S, Schmidtko and A.L. Stewart (2014) Eddy transport as a key component of the Antarctic overturning circulation, Nature Geoscience, 7, 879-884, doi:10.1038/ngeo2289.
  3. Azaneu, M., K.J. Heywood, B.Y. Queste, and A.F. Thompson, 2017: Variability of the Antarctic Slope Current System in the Northwestern Weddell Sea. J. Phys. Oceanogr.,47, 2977–2997, [https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-17-0030.17].
  4. Sheehan, P. M. F., Damerell, G. M., Leadbitter, P. J., Heywood, K. J., and Hall, R. A. (2023) Turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate and associated fluxes in the western tropical Atlantic estimated from ocean glider observations, Ocean Sci., 19, 77–92, [https://doi.org/10.5194/os-19-77-2023]

Informal enquiries may be sent to k.heywood@uea.ac.uk