PhD position - Northumbria University, UK

PhD position - Northumbria University, UK

Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
This project is part of the NERC ONE Planet Doctoral Training Partnership between Nortumbria and Newcastle Universities. It includes 3.5 years of fees (Home/EU/International), an annual living allowance (£15,650) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, etc). The position is based at Northumbria University and the supervisor is Dr Vasile Ersek.
Anthropogenic climate change is seen both as an overall warming of the atmosphere and oceans, and as shifts in the atmospheric circulation and ocean currents. These changes can have a huge impact on society, disrupting climate patterns to which humans have been used to for hundreds of years.

One of the most important atmospheric circulation patterns is the seasonal reversal of the winds in the tropics: The Monsoons. Because monsoon winds bring much of the yearly rainfall, they are critical to the survival of many millions of people worldwide. Studying the monsoon requires data that document how parameters such as rainfall and temperature change in space and time. However, instrumental data are only available in most cases for the last 100 years or so.

This is not sufficient to record the full range of possible patterns and changes. To go beyond the instrumental record, we need to find natural recorders of climate change. Cave stalagmites are one of the best ways to extract climate information from past centuries and millennia. Their growth is linked to the presence of water and the chemicals dissolved within it. In this project you will examine changes in the winter and summer monsoon by using stable isotopes and trace elements in stalagmites from caves in Central and Northern Vietnam.

We have identified stalagmites from these regions which grew during the last 60,000 years so you will be able to analyse changes many thousands of years into the past. Using these stalagmites, you will provide the long-term context for regional climate changes, identifying the magnitude of natural climate changes and the presence of tipping points or abrupt changes for periods when the climate system was both quite similar (e.g. late Holocene) and markedly different to today (e.g. Last Glacial Maximum). You will also collaborate with archaeologists and climate modellers to understand the impact of these changes on past human societies in SE Asia. This will be of direct value to policy makers and will contribute to our general understanding of societal risk to climate change.
Geochemical analyses of speleothems (including, but not limited to, stable isotopes, trace elements, fluid inclusions)
Data Analysis
Manuscript writing
MSc or equivalent degree in Earth Sciences, Geochemistry and related fields
Ability to do fieldwork in caves, some in remote settings
Deadline: January 24, 2022
Please apply via this link ( and select October 2022 as your entrance date. Please enter the studentship code OP2255 into the studentship code field.
Application deadline
Further information
For more information, please contact Dr Vasile Ersek.
For more information about OnePlanet Doctoral Training Programme, please visit
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