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PhD Position – Improving our understanding of compound climate extremes

  • Anywhere

University of Tasmania (Hobart)

Closing Date

14th May 2021

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

The Research Project

Climate and weather extremes are rare and may constitute unexpected, unusual, severe and/or unseasonable events. Some extremes occur over weeks, seasons, or even years and their impacts may, along with catastrophic events like fire and flood, be captured in palaeoclimate records. Impacts of extremes may be spatially and temporally limited or may represent what are known as compound climate extremes.  Compound climate extremes are an emerging field of research and can be categorised as preconditioned (prior conditions accentuate hazard impacts), multivariate (associated with multiple drivers), temporally compounding (successive events have an extreme impact), or spatially compounding (hazards occur in multiple locations simultaneously). Instrumental evidence and climate projections indicate increased frequency and magnitude of both single event and compound extremes over recent decades and into the future, respectively. The impacts of more frequent or severe climate extremes and the failure of climate adaptation and mitigation are perceived as major threats to social and environmental well-being across the globe.  The IPCC has characterised compound extremes in particular as an area of ‘deep uncertainty’, with little understood about their probability of occurrence or cascading impacts.  There is an urgent need to better characterise extreme climate events to better inform emergency responses, infrastructure design and land management planning.

This PhD project will focus on analysing climate extremes from a compilation of records that is developed during the project. This compilation will draw on globally gridded data sets and instrumental records at scales commensurate with types of climate extremes that may be recorded in palaeoclimate records such as corals, tree-rings, speleothems, sediment cores and ice cores. The project will play a key role in improving our understanding of extremes. This dataset will be used to calibrate a record of palaeo-extremes that you will compare with long runs of CSIRO’s climate model to identify likely drivers of temporally and spatially compound events in the palaeoclimate record. You will be located in the School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences ( and will work within the dynamic Climate Futures Group ( The project will require extensive collaboration with researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, CSIRO ( ), and colleagues in the Northern Hemisphere. It will also require a willingness to engage with large-scale databases. The project will provide a student with excellent communication skills, a wide collaborative network and advanced skills in numerical analysis and interpretation relevant to climate sciences generally.  These skills underpin future leadership roles in the climate sciences.

The position is funded for 3 years with an ARC PhD scholarship.

  • Undergraduate degree and Honours/Masters in geography, mathematics, biological sciences or a related discipline
  • Evidence of excellent quantitative research skills and familiarity with programming language (e.g. R/Matlab/Python)
  • Familiarity with at least one type of palaeo-proxy archive
  • Evidence of ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent communication skills, high level of proficiency in English

See the following web page for entry requirements:

More Information

Please contact, Dr Kathy Allen for further information.

Also see:

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