Potential PhD projects and scholarships


Potential PhD topics:

1. What ocean do Lagrangian observing platforms (e.g., Argo and drifting buoys) observe ?

In the mid- and high-latitudes the ocean circulation is composed largely of eddies and fronts. In isolation an ocean eddy is relatively stable being in quasi-geostrophic balance and retaining a closed material surface around its core water mass. It is only through the disruption or destruction of this balance through eddy- interactions that an exchange in mass with its environment takes place. Only at these times is it possible for a Lagrangian observing platform to enter or exit the eddy circulation. This poses many interesting questions such as how frequently do these platforms observe eddies and what are the implications for constructing climatologies of the ocean and ocean forecasting. This research would make use of state of the art high resolution ocean models, analysis of altimetry and the in situ Argo and drifting buoy observations available at the Bureau of Meteorology and the global ocean observing system.

2. Characterisation of ocean forecast errors from an ocean forecasting system.

A state-of-the-art prediction system makes several assumptions about the errors of the observing system, the ocean models, the atmospheric forcing and data assimilation methodology. Correctly modelling and estimating these errors and validating or improving these assumptions is critical to further improving performance. This project will focus on the available database of forecast innovations and increments from the BLUElink ocean prediction system and determine the systematic bias as well as the statistical distribution. Specific methods will then be developed to deconstruct and attribute error to different components of the system as well as hypothesis testing.

3. Helen Beggs leads the GHRSST Tropical Warm Pool Diurnal Variability (TWP+) Project which aims to quantify diurnal warming of the surface ocean over the Tropical Warm Pool to the north of Australia and to validate and compare various diurnal variation models over this region.

The International Group for High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature (GHRSST) TWP+ data set would be a great resource for any PhD student with a background in either physical oceanography, air-sea heat exchange, marine meteorology and/or satellite oceanography. Further information on the TWP+ Project can be found at https://www.ghrsst.org/ghrsst-science/science-team-groups/dv-wg/twp/ <https://www.ghrsst.org/ghrsst-science/science-team-groups/dv-wg/twp/> .

The GHRSST Workshop on Tropical Warm Pool and High Latitude SST Issues (Melbourne, 5-9 March 2012) would be an excellent opportunity for a new PhD student to choose a TWP+ related research project that matches their interests and abilities. The workshop will focus on presentations relating to initial research for the TWP+ Project and using the TWP+ data set during the three working days of the GHRSST workshop. Further information on the GHRSST Workshop can be found at https://www.ghrsst.org/ghrsst-science/Meetings-and-workshops/workshop-on... <https://www.ghrsst.org/ghrsst-science/Meetings-and-workshops/workshop-on... including a draft agenda which lists the current TWP+ research activities.

4. Impact of East Australian Current observations Tasman Sea eddies in an ocean model


Can observations of the East Australian Current using a HF ocean surface radar improve model forecast skill of meso-scale eddies in the Tasman Sea?

The study will use observations at Coffs Harbour (30S, 153E) which extend approximately 100 km east across the East Australian Current (EAC) and perform assimilation impact studies on a domain encompassing upstream of Coffs Harbour, the EAC separation (at approximately Smoky Cape, 31 S), and the Tasman front (across to New Zealand), with a particular emphasis on meso-scale eddies.

OSR observations

The HF OSR measures surface currents in the top few tens of centimetres of the ocean, on a few km resolution with a range of around 100km over 10 minute time scales. The OSR is part of the IMOS ACORN facility and is planned to commence operation in February 2012. Routine data delivery could be expected by mid 2012. Observations show the EAC is largely barotropic, so OSR should be representative of the depth-integrated current.

The Ocean Model CLAM? Assimiliation

The HF OSR provides currents in regions where the two radars overlap (and the subtended angles of the ray are greater than ~20 Outside of this region there is another equally extensive area where there is only one useful current vector component resolved. While not suited to visual interpretation, single current vector components can be assimilated into ocean models.

The model already assimilates altimetry, SST and temperature and salinity profiles, so any skill improvement will be in excess of this. The assimilation of HF OSR observations may also be useful in the situation where altimetry is degraded (due to loss of satellites or other problems). It would be useful to quantify the impact of assimilating OSR currents in the absence (or reduction) of altimetry.

Possible candidate data-sets for skill evaluation are feature tracking, surface drifters (these are probably drogue to a few metres depth), or synTS. The first two sources will probably generate sparse data-sets. Maybe the evaluation will be achieved by looking at the increments in SSH?

Links to other Work

We have previously looked at the impact of observations on models using the error estimates in the data assimilation system (Oke et al., 2009). It would be instructive to see how data withholding experiments compare to the observation network design study tool.

Oke, P. R., Sakov, P. & Schulz, E.W., 2009, A comparison of shelf observation platforms for assimilation in an eddy-resolving ocean model, Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, 48, 121-142, doi:10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2009.04.002.

5. Predictive mapping of seabed cover, benthic habitats, benthic biodiversity using multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data

Coastal marine benthic environment, which is dreadfully under-studied, has significant economic and conservation values. Sustainable management of this marine ecosystem requires high quality physical and biological datasets on the benthic environment and scientific evidence on the interactions between these physical and the biological variables. Modern mutlibeam sonar systems, with different sonar frequencies, are capable of accurately mapping large area of seabed from water depth of a few metres to thousands metres. They can provide high-resolution and near-complete coverage of bathymetry and acoustic backscatter data for mapping seabed substrata, benthic habitats and benthic biota.

The proposed project would involve intensive field campaigns collecting multibeam data, water column data, sediment samples and biological data. The collaboration with OUC is critical for the collection and analysis of these data. We would provide expertise in the areas of data analysis, modelling and result interpretation.

6. Generalised dependence for the ocean sea drag

The sea---drag coefficient is the main property which is employed to parameterise the air---sea interactions in large---scale models, from engineering applications to climate research. Over the last 30 years, however, scatter of the experimental dependences for the sea drag parameterised as a function of wind speed and/or wave age did not improve. The proposed project would intend to develop a generalised parameterisation of the sea drag as a function of multiple environmental forcings, for use in meteorological, climate and ocean engineering applications.

7. Coastally trapped wave observations and modelling around Australia

Program Code: 1082

Supervisors: Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au), Dr Ming Feng, CSIRO, A/Prof Moninya Roughan and Dr Andrew Kiss (UNSW)

Australia is surrounded by major ocean boundary currents - with the East Australian Current off the east coast, the Leeuwin Current off the west coast, and the South Australian Current/Flinders Current off the south coast. The Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) has set up shelf circulation monitoring systems for the major boundary current systems over the past six years. The observing systems include shelf moorings, gliders, and surface radar systems. The ocean boundary current systems vary on different time scales, such as seasonal and intra-seasonal. The aim of this study is to utilise the IMOS mooring networks and numerical models to understand the coastally trapped wave propagations around Australia, forced by wind anomalies on intra-seasonal and whether time scales, and their interactions with the ocean boundary current systems. The intra-seasonal variability of the ocean boundary currents are important in understanding the extreme events in these systems.

8. Remote sensing study on the East Australian Current

Program Code: 1082

Supervisors: Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au) and Dr Zhi Huang, Geoscience Australia

East Australian Current (EAC) is a significant boundary current that flows poleward. On the way, it separates and generates many large and small eddies that cause lots of oceanographic dynamic. It has significant ecological impact on the eastern margin of Australia from about 25S. This PhD project aims to use time-series remotely sensed data to map EAC’s spatial structures and investigate the spatial and temporal variability of EAC’s characteristics. The remotely sensed data to be used include more than 10 years MODIS SST and Chlorophyll a datasets. We also intend to use satellite altimetry data in combination with the broad scale BlueLink model to help the mapping and validation, especially in the identification of eddies. This PhD project will further develop the techniques used in supervisor’s (Huang) similar study on the Leeuwin Current of Western Australian margin (Huang and Feng, 2015). Co-supervisor Wang’s expertise in EAC system will be utilised in guiding the design of this study and assessing the results of this study, among others. The successful PhD candidate is expected to have a strong research and analytical skills. Experience and skills in either Remote Sensing or Physical Oceanography field or both are highly desirable.

9. Mapping and modelling the coastal upwelling along NSW

Program Code: 1082

Supervisors: Dr Zhi Huang and Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au), Geoscience Australia

Coastal upwelling is important for marine ecosystems and the economy, because of its elevated primary and secondary productivity and large potential for fish catch. Upwelling along the New South Wales (NSW) coastal areas forms a prominent upwelling system. The upwelling system occurs more or less continuously from austral spring to autumn. It is believed that the East Australian Current (EAC) plays a critical role in this upwelling system.

The ability to investigate the development of individual upwelling events became available in recent years since the production of highly frequent remotely sensed SST data. The Himawari-8 (H-8) is a new generation geostationary satellite carrying an Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI), capable of providing geophysical data at a spatial resolution of 2km and a temporal resolution of 10-mins full-disk frequency. This PhD project contains two main stages. Firstly, this project uses the H-8 SST data to identify and explicitly map the development of individual upwelling events along the NSW coast. The project then uses numerical ocean model(s) to simulate the development of these events to investigate the major underlying mechanisms. The results of this PhD research would significantly advance our knowledge on the NSW coastal upwelling system which is likely to be increasingly influenced by the climate change.

These brief research questions are possible projects for research higher degree students under the supervision of A/Prof. Stuart Pearson.

  • What is the Blue Economic Zone and what will its success bring to society, environment and economy? How will it be monitored and evaluated? What does this show about the research needs for China’s environmental law, science and management? [with A/Prof Ma Yingjie]
  • Why is eco-compensation so popular in China? What does this show about the research needs for China’s environmental law, science and management? [with Ma Yingjie]
  • How is risk of environmental research, environmental management and environmental policy considered in Australia and China? Current topics for PhDs have related to biofuel policy [with Dong Bo], Antarctica’s research program [with Maozeng Jiang] and so what do you think should be studied next?
  • Who cares? Using a social science approach, how can the values, attitudes and dreams of Australia and China’s young professionals be understood and what scenarios can be plausibly developed? Environmental research, environmental management and environmental policy considerations of young people in Australia and China. How does this contribute to government research? [with Yantai Institute and NSW Government]
  • How widely and how appropriate is applying the Kuznets curve thinking in China a rational Natural Resource Management response? China’s rapid development and transition to a eco-civilisation is widely discussed as a stage requiring ‘development first and clean-up second’. What is the nature of the evidence used by narrators to justify this and what are the plausible scenarios?

Climate change implications for Estuaries

Climate variation and change will impact estuaries in a manner and to a degree that is presently poorly understood due to the uncertainties regarding future forcing and theoretical impediments to our quantitative understanding of estuarine processes at management timescales. Estuarine habitats, water quality, shoreline stability, long-term sedimentation, groundwater, freshwater management as well as the inundation of adjacent land and built environment will all potentially be significantly impacted by climate change.

The purpose of this project is to determine likely changes in forcing processes and extreme events (floods, droughts, heat waves, coastal storms) on Australian estuarine ecosystems and their future management.

Specific questions that will be addressed are as follows:

  1. How are estuarine ecosystems anticipated to change with climate?
  2. What options can be exercised to address these changes within estuaries and their catchments?
  3. What appropriate strategies can be exercised to minimise ecological, social and financial risk in estuarine systems?

This project would be supervised in collaboration with suitably qualified ecologists.

Geomorphological behaviour of estuaries under climate change

Estuarine geomorphological behaviour and its response to physical modification and bioturbation provides the physical backdrop for estuary change. A contemporary need is to integrate science and engineering approaches to understand estuaries on a range of nested time scales: the storm event cycle; interannual climate variability; multi-decadal climate variability; centennial to millennial sedimentological and geomorphological processes.

Specifically, marine and terrestrial sedimentation determines the rate of estuarine infilling and changes in estuarine form according to its maturity (Roy et al., 2001, Structure and Function of South-east Australian Estuaries, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 53). Floods play a major role in infilling, flood plain sedimentation as well as scouring during major events.

Following a review of the role of time scale in estuary development, detailed assessment of selected sites would be undertaken as case studies.

10. Impact on turbidity maximum zones due to intensive anthropogenic activities

Program Code: 1082

Supervisor: Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au)

Using existing datasets, this project will investigate how dredging and reclamation affects turbidity maximum zones, and how these effects can be considered in predictive models for sediment transport dynamics in the coastal embayments and estuaries. This research will give new direction to port management in Australia.

11. Modelling estuarine circulation and cohesive sediment transport in river influenced regions of Great Barrier Reef and south east Australia.

Program Code: 1082

Supervisor: Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au) or Dr. Julio Salcedo-Castro (j.salcedo-castro@adfa.edu.au)

The Sino-Australian Research Consortium for Coastal Management, School of Science UNSW Canberra, is offering a Ph student position to work on coastal modelling and sediment transport. Cohesive sediment is involved in several ecological and environmental processes, like nutrients and pollutant (metals, organic compounds) transport, transparency, and stratification. This project involves using coupled hydrodynamics and sediment transport models to study the transport and fate of cohesive sediment in the coastal zone. The project aims to describe short term processes occurring as response to intense river discharges, typical of monsoonal systems.

12. Coupling a catchment-estuary system to study the coastal response to changes in sediment composition.

Program Code: 1082

Supervisor: Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au) or Dr. Julio Salcedo-Castro (j.salcedo-castro@adfa.edu.au)

Sediment reaching the coastal environments is result of many processes taking place within the river catchment. The catchment represents the system where sediment is produced and transformed, as consequence of natural and anthropic processes. There are multiple factors determining the nature of the sediment reaching the coast, like mineral composition, soils use, slope, and hydraulic regime. On the other hand, the estuarine dynamics will determine how sediment is settled and transported along and cross-shore. This project aims to couple catchment and coastal models to study simulate different catchment conditions and their impact on sediment composition and concentration.

13. Sea-level rise, Climate Change projections and their implications on Australian estuarine systems.

Program Code: 1082

Supervisor: Prof. Xiao Hua Wang (x.h.wang@unsw.edu.au) or Dr. Julio Salcedo-Castro (j.salcedo-castro@adfa.edu.au)

Sea-level rise is one of the most evident consequences of climate change and, certainly, one of the forcing being modified in estuarine systems. Besides hydrological changes causing a gradual increase or decrease in river runoff, sea-level rise represents a progressive landward extension of seawater within the estuary. The gradual sea-level rise also involves impact on coastal erosion, stratification, and estuarine circulation, especially in low-lying coastal zones. This project will focus on simulating the circulation and sediment transport under different sea-level scenarios, with emphasis on southeast Australian estuaries.

14. Eddy - mean flow interactions in the East Australian Current System.

Western Boundary Currents (WBCs) and associated mesoscale eddies can exchange energy, vorticity and momentum through eddy-mean flow interactions. The transfer of energy from the mean flow to eddies through barotropic and baroclinic instabilities leads to eddy formation and shedding. In turn, the energy transferred from the eddies back to the mean flow can feed the mean flow. Energetics analysis is an effective method of quantifying the energy exchange between the mean flow and eddy reservoirs and has been widely used to investigate dynamical processes of eddy activity and current variability in other WBCs, e.g. in the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio Current, Brazil Current, and Agulhas Current. In this project, we will use a long-term high-resolution ocean model simulation to examine the features of the eddy-mean flow energetics in the East Australian Current.

15. Antarctic continental shelf processes and exchange in a changing climate.

This project will use high-resolution coupled ocean-sea-ice model experiments in combination with available observations and theory to better understand continental shelf processes and exchange around the Antarctic continental margin. The Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator Ocean Model (ACCESS-OM2-01) will be used to carry out these experiments, as it has demonstrated high skill in capturing dense shelf water formation processes and exchange around Antarctica. This model is already in operation within the research group of Professor Matthew England at the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC). These model experiments would be forced by projected changes in Southern Ocean winds and / or Antarctic meltwater anomalies in order to examine the response of Southern Ocean circulation and hydrography. These experiments would also be examined under a range of forcing scenarios under climate change. The focus of the project is on better understanding the dynamics of shelf processes and exchange around Antarctica and interactions with the Southern Ocean.

16. Fundamentals of Greenhouse Gas Transfer at Open Water Surfaces

Supervisors: W.L. Peirson and S. Felder

It is well established that the small scale wave structure on open water surfaces fundamentally changes the exchange of heat and gases (especially greenhouse gases) across the interface (Jähne and Haußecker, 1998). The rate of exchange varies systematically with the Schmidt number (the ratio of the molecular diffusivities of momentum and the constituent under consideration). Yan et al. (2011) have extended circular tank studies described by Jähne and Haußecker to linear facilities.
Recent parallel work (Banner et al., 2014; Saket et al., 2017; Barthelemy et al., 2018) has shown the conditions under which surface rupture is initiated. Surface rupture signifies a fundamental change in the interfacial kinematic boundary condition (Peirson and Banner, 2003).
Peirson et al. (2014) and Zhao et al. (2022) have shown that systematic relationships can be developed specifically for reaeration according to local surface wave and flow characterisations.
There is a pressing need to unite these three streams of understanding of open water surface behaviour and constituent exchange response. The proposed project would leverage the advanced techniques developed by Saket et al. (2017), apply them to the surface conditions characterised by Peirson et al. and Zhao et al., observing and exposing the fundamental reasons for the constituent exchange responses quantified by Jähne and Haußecker and Yan et al..


  • Banner, M.L., Barthelemy, X., Fedele, F., Allis, M., Benetazzo, A., Dias, F. & Peirson, W.L. (2014) Linking reduced breaking crest speeds to unsteady nonlinear water wave group behaviour. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 114502.
  • Barthelemy, X., Banner, M.L., Peirson, W.L., Fedele, F., Allis, M. and Dias, F. (2018) On a unified breaking onset threshold for gravity waves in deep and intermediate depth water. J. Fluid Mech. 841, 463-488.
  • Jähne, B., and Haußecker, H. (1998). "Air-water gas exchange." Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 30(1), 443-468.
  • Peirson, W.L. and Banner, M.L. (2003) Aqueous surface flows induced by microscale breaking wind waves. J. Fluid Mech. 479, 1-38.
  • Peirson, W. L., Walker, J. W., and Banner, M. L. (2014). "On the microphysical behaviour of wind-forced water surfaces and consequent re-aeration." Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 743, 399-447.
  • Saket, A., Peirson, W.L., Banner, M.L., Barthelemy, X., and Allis, M.J. (2017) Wave breaking onset of two-dimensional deep-water wave groups in the presence and absence of wind. J. Fluid Mech. 811. 642-658.
  • Yan, X., Peirson, W.L., Walker, J.W., Banner, M.L. (2011) On transitions in the Schmidt number dependency of low solubility gas transfer across air-water interfaces. In Gas Transfer at Water Surfaces. Eds. S. Komori, W. McGillis and R. Kurose. Kyoto University Press ISBN 978-4-87698-560-9 , 333-343
  • Zhao, W., , Prata, A., Peirson, W.L., Stuetz, R. and Felder, S. (2022) Reaeration in supercritical open channel flows. J. Hyd. Eng., HYENG-12941. 2nd Revision.

17. Sea Level Rise and Estuary Flooding

Supervisor: Prof Bill Peirson

For millennia, people have been drawn to estuaries because of the rich ecosystem services that they provide. For millennia, people have been drawn to estuaries as critical junctions between sea and land trade routes. Climate change, principally sea level rise (SLR) and changes to severe weather patterns, are impacting both the estuary ecosystem services and the infrastructure constructed to support coastal settlements and their industries. Consequently, climate change has increasing and significant ecological, social and economic implications for the management of engineering infrastructure in estuarine environments. (Peirson et al., 2022)
Important progress has been achieved recently to resolve key issues in the prediction of estuary flooding under climate change.
Zaki (2021) reconciled a longstanding disparity between the findings of Tanaka and Tinh (2008) and Hanslow and Nielsen (1992) in relation to storm wave-induced elevation of water levels in estuaries. However, she has shown inconsistencies between conventional understanding of wave influences on water levels in the presence of floods as well as the influence of incoming wave direction.
Further physical laboratory and numerical work is required to understand these inconsistencies to improve engineering predictions of flooding in densely-populated and low-lying estuarine zones.

18. Investigation of Impact of Coastal Development and Dredging on Oxidant and Antioxidant Production and Associated Coral Community Viability in Inshore Coral Reef Systems

Supervisors: Dr Shikha Garg and Prof David Waite

Uncertainty exists regarding the impact of coastal development and dredging on reefal systems with concern that mobilization and transport of land- and benthic sediment-derived materials such as natural organic matter, iron oxyhydroxides and trace metals (such as copper) may place unsustainable stress on coral reef communities and ultimately reduce the viability of these communities. Indeed, it is recognized that powerful oxidants (such as hydroxyl radicals and high valence state metal species) and their precursors (including superoxide and hydrogen peroxide) may be produced in surface waters as result of the interaction of light with natural organic matter, either of terrestrial, benthic sediment or marine biogenic (autochthonous) origin. This natural organic matter is typically bound to metals such as iron and copper which, on interaction with reactive oxygen species (such as superoxide and hydrogen peroxide), may produce the powerful oxidants mentioned above (Waite, 2005; Rose et al., 2010; Garg et al., 2011). While some organisms are recognized to possess protective mechanisms (typically via production of antioxidants) enabling removal of these oxidants (Saragosti et al., 2010; Armoza-Zvuloni and Shaked, 2014), most organisms possess a limited capacity for production of such antioxidants and, with continued exposure to excessive oxidants, will exhibit a decrease in viability. Living organisms associated with reefal systems are particularly prone to destruction by the powerful oxidants mentioned above as light intensity is often high, and organic content in the vicinity of the reef is also high as a result of endogenous exudation, terrestrial runoff and/or benthic sediment disturbance (Szymczak and Waite, 1991). It is also now recognised that stress factors may lead to significant release of mucus as a defense mechanism against photophysical damage (Wooldridge, 2010).

Project Scope
It is proposed that an ARC Linkage proposal be prepared with the goal of:

  • Utilizing and further developing methods such as fluorescence spectroscopy (Murphy et al., 2007) for differentiating terrestrial inputs of organic matter from marine, biogenic inputs;
  • Quantifying the extent of oxidant production via light-mediated excitation of natural organic matter of both terrestrial and marine biogenic origin in reefal waters;
  • Ascertaining the extent to which terrestrial or benthic sediment inputs of natural organic matter and/or redox active elements (mobilized by coastal development and/or dredging) exacerbate (or mitigate) the production of oxidants in inshore reefal waters;
  • Quantifying the extent of in-situ oxidant production by organisms associated with inshore coral reefs;
  • Ascertaining the extent of antioxidant production by coral reef symbionts and determining the extent to which antioxidant production is upregulated under conditions of high oxidative stress;
  • Ascertaining the likely long-term viability of coral communities under varying levels of oxidative stress (with these stress conditions resulting from either natural or man-induced variation in environmental conditions).

19. Fisheries Oceanography

Supervisor: Prof Iain Suthers

Long term observing of larval fishes off eastern Australia (Smith et al. 2018; Hinchliffe et al. 2021) reveals potential changes through tropicalisation of coastal waters, driven by the strengthening East Australian Current. These inevitable changes deliver ecological threats but also opportunities for fisheries. Depending on the candidate(s), this potential project will 1) further the analysis of a decade of ocean observing of monthly zooplankton and ichthyoplankton; 2) improve taxonomic understanding of the collections from larval morphology and imagery linked to DNA barcoding (using BOLD, Barcode of Life Database); and 3) determine the recruitment potential of larval cohorts of particular (commercial) species from the size frequency analysis over seascapes and years. Hinchliffe C, JA Smith, JD Everett, DS Falster, A Lara-Lopez, AG Miskiewicz, AJ Richardson, HT Schilling, IM Suthers. 2021. Modelling the distribution of larval fish in a western boundary current using a multi-voyage database. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 31: 399-415 Smith JA, et al. and Suthers (2018) A database of marine larval fish assemblages in Australian temperate and subtropical waters. Scientific Data 5:1-8 Suthers, IM, Z. White, C. Hinchliffe, D. Falster, A. Richards and J.D. Everett. (2021) The Mortality/Growth ratio of larval fish and the slope of the zooplankton size spectrum. Fish and Fisheries, https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12633

20. Antarctic continental shelf processes and exchange in a changing climate

Supervisor: Prof Matthew England

This project explores recent and projected warming over the Antarctic continental shelf using computational models, theory and observations.

21. Eddy - mean flow interactions in the East Australian Current System

Supervisor: Prof Moninya Roughan

Western Boundary Currents (WBCs) and associated mesoscale eddies can exchange energy, vorticity and momentum through eddy-mean flow interactions. The transfer of energy from the mean flow to eddies through barotropic and baroclinic instabilities leads to eddy formation and shedding. In turn, the energy transferred from the eddies back to the mean flow can feed the mean flow. Energetics analysis is an effective method of quantifying the energy exchange between the mean flow and eddy reservoirs and has been widely used to investigate dynamical processes of eddy activity and current variability in other WBCs, e.g. in the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio Current, Brazil Current, and Agulhas Current. In this project, we will use a long-term high-resolution ocean model simulation to examine the features of the eddy-mean flow energetics in the East Australian Current.

22. Building resilience in coastal marine foundation species.

Supervisor: Prof Paul Gribben

In coastal ecosystems, marine plants - seagrass, saltmarsh and mangroves - are habitat-forming 'foundation' species that are in significant decline globally due to environmental stressors. The continued degradation of coastal habitat has resulted in the loss of key ecosystem functions such as nursery habitat for fish, nutrient cycling, coastal protection, and carbon sequestration. Recent discoveries indicate that below-ground processes under microbial control are critical to building resilience for coastal marine plants. This project will explore 1) where and when microbes (root and sediment associated) are most important for marine plant performance and 2) experimentally determine how below-ground microbes control plant responses to environmental stress (e.g. temperature and nutrients).

PhD Scholarships for International Students from UNSW Canberra

UNSW Canberra will provide a living stipend valued at $35,000 per annum for 3.5 years for suitably qualified students.

INFORMATION ON SCHOLARSHIPS: www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/hdr-scholarships