Each year, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics offers summer vacation projects. These projects are open to students from any University but candidates must have an existing right to work in the UK.

Students will work with a supervisor in the Department, usually a research fellow or a faculty member (a list of projects offered this year is below), on a self-contained research project. Students are encouraged to take part in the Department’s life, joining researchers for coffee breaks, discussions and seminars.

The projects will typically run for 8 weeks, beginning on or around 1st July. The duration may be adjusted to be shorter or longer, or to accommodate summer travel.  The projects are usually full-time but hours can be discussed with your supervisor. Students are paid slightly above the Oxford Living Wage.


Decadal cooling trends in observations and climate models

Supervised by Kunhui Ye and Tim Woollings (Oxford Physics) and Rosie Eade (Met Office)

The recent decadal wintertime cooling trend (from early 1990s to early 2010s) over Eurasia has attracted widespread scientific attention and ignited a lively debate on its origin. This has occurred in the form of mean temperature cooling and frequent cold winters despite the background of a warming world with significant changes in the climate system like Arctic sea-ice loss and Arctic amplified warming. In this work, taking advantage of the latest large-ensemble historical all-forcings CMIP6 model simulations from various state-of-the-art models, we intend to explore how internal climate variations can drive similar decadal trends across the land areas more generally. Statistics of these decadal trends such as frequency and dependency on background warming will be computed and the origin of the recent decadal wintertime cooling trend over Eurasia may be inferred. We anticipate that this proposed work will improve our understanding of internal climate variability in driving decadal climate trends and also inform us of the fidelity of climate models in reproducing historical climate variations. This project would suit a 2nd or 3rd year physics or atmospheric science student looking to develop their computational and analysis skills on large datasets. Some experience of programming and data visualisation in a language such as python is necessary. The project is funded by the Met Office Academic Partnership.  We are able to offer an access bursary in the case of financial hardship, in particular for students who do not have affordable access to accommodation in Oxford. To enquire about this, or any other aspect of the project please contact kunhui.ye@physics.ox.ac.uk and tim.woollings@physics.ox.ac.uk. To apply, we will need a CV and the contact details of an academic referee, along with a short personal statement detailing your relevant experience and your motivation for this position. Please combine these into a single pdf and send to kunhui.ye@physics.ox.ac.uk by 29 April.

Measurement of Volcanic Ash Density

Supervised by Don Grainger and Isabelle Taylor

Volcanic plumes of ash are one of the many hazards associated with volcanic eruptions and knowledge of their location in three dimensions is essential for mitigating the hazards these present. A critical parameter of ash particles is their density. This varies as a function of eruption type and (possibly) particle size. Currently a density value of 2.5 g cm-3 is assumed for volcanic ash although variability between eruptions is at least 10 %. This uncertainty propagates through to satellite estimates of the ash plume mass, a critical measurement in understanding the threat of a plume to aviation. No less important is modellers’ use of ash density to determine the sedimentation and motion of ash plumes.

In this project the student will use a pycnometer to measure the density of ash from the many samples we have collected. If time permits the student would also investigate of how density changes with particle size. The overall aim of the project would be to draft a scientific paper on volcanic ash density by the end of the project.

Skills Required

The candidate should be studying for a degree in physical or environmental sciences. Practical laboratory experience is required.

How to Apply

To apply please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and a short cover letting explaining your interest in the placement to don.grainger@physics.ox.ac.ukApplications will be first considered on the 29th of April and will be reviewed on an on-going basis until an appointment is made.

Communicating Geophysical Fluid Dynamics: a website for research and teaching

We propose to develop a series of web pages to present recent research results and a number of key phenomena in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics that builds on a collection of videos and images acquired over many years from various laboratory fluid flow experiments in Oxford and elsewhere. These include an historic collection of movies from the Met Office and Florida State University (Tallahassee, USA) that were digitised some years ago by the Media Services Unit in Oxford Physics. Some of this material will be presented in the form of a series of illustrated tutorials, suitable as supporting material for undergraduate and graduate courses in geophysical fluid dynamics, to illustrate phenomena such as baroclinic and barotropic instabilities, Rossby waves etc. as well as results from numerical model simulations and more modern experimental images and movies,. The site will also be supplemented with pages from recent research projects in experimental fluid dynamics, planetary atmospheres research etc., especially where they have resulted in interesting images and movies.

Skills required

This project would suit a computer-literate undergraduate in physical or environmental sciences, ideally with some prior experience in designing web material. Some knowledge of fluid dynamics would be beneficial but is not essential.

How to Apply

To apply please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and a short cover letting explaining your interest in the placement to peter.read@physics.ox.ac.uk. Applications will be first considered on the 29th of April and will be reviewed on an on-going basis until an appointment is made.