University of Exeter funding: Asymmetries between feedbacks in wa

Asymmetries between feedbacks in warming and cooling climates – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3888

About the award


Academic supervisors

Dr Hugo Lambert, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter

Professor Geoffrey Vallis, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter

Mark Webb, Met Office

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,285 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Location: Department of Mathematics, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, Devon

Project Description:

Complex numerical General Circulation Models (GCMs) are used to make projections of changes in 21st century climate. Because the models are imperfect, different models make different, but potentially equally plausible, predictions for the 21st century. It is therefore important to simulate past climates that differ from today to test the models against climates for which we actually have observations. We can then constrain predictions of future climate change by only using projections from GCMs that satisfactorily simulate past climates.

A problem with constraining future climates this way is that the future will be warmer, whereas many past climates, such as those of the last century and the last ice age, were cooler. This means that the feedback processes that produce climate change in response to forcings such as changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide may not respond in the same way. This project will explore these problems with the aim of understanding how climate change differs when we warm or cool the Earth.  The project will investigate feedback processes that control the magnitude of climate change using idealised GCM simulations in conjunction with arguments from basic physical principles.  A key focus will be clouds, which are one of the biggest uncertainties affecting predictions of future climate change. By comparing results from simulations of the past and the future, we will develop an understanding of if and how climate feedbacks involving warming and cooling relate to one another.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,285 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2020.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in Mathematics, Physics, Meteorology or a related discipline.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 30 April 2020.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus (dates are to be confirmed).

For general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 725801 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  For project-specific queries, please contact Hugo Lambert ( or Geoff Vallis (


Application deadline:30th April 2020
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions