PdD fellowship

Doctoral Fellowship In Physical Oceanography Assessing the structure and role of small scale ocean dynamics in the ocean

Assessing the structure and role of small scale ocean dynamics in the ocean

Durée 3 years
Laboratoire hôte Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique – IPSL
Grade/Niveau PhD
Début du contrat Upon agreement (approximately 1 October 2024)
Rémunération N/A
Date limite de candidature 25/07/2024


Subject area

Physical oceanography, air-sea interactions, ocean small-scale dynamics

Subject area description

Physical-climatic processes in the oceans are one of the major sources of uncertainty in global climate understanding and prediction. These uncertainties are particularly prevalent in the subtropical gateways that link the global overturning circulation. One such region is the Cape Basin and Agulhas Current System, where the current paucity of observations that encompass the above processes, and uncertainty about the correct scales to measure them, means that we know remarkably little about the interplay of processes occurring between the 100 m to 100 s km scale (i.e., from submeso to mesoscale in ocean dynamics, which we define here as the fine scales of the ocean) and their linkages to the larger climate system and its change.

We seek a Ph.D. candidate in physical oceanography to address knowledge gaps related to finescale ocean properties/variability as a means to understand upper ocean dynamics, water mass formation and transformation beyond the base of the mixed layer, heat uptake and ventilation pathways in the upper ocean of the eddy rich ocean south of Africa. The candidate will use a combination of existing observational data (from shipboard and autonomous platforms), new observations to be collected during upcoming expeditions, and existing and new model simulations. Ancillary reanalysis data and satellite-based products, including recently acquired SWOT satellite data, will be used.

The candidate will work within the ERC Synergy project ‘WHIRLS’ (The impact of ocean fine scale whirls on climate and ecosystems). This project has a focus area spanning the Agulhas Current System and Cape Basin south of Africa.

There is the opportunity to participate in research voyages and field experiment execution.


The questions to be addressed

  1. What are the fine-scale regional dynamical properties of the ocean as inferred from existing satellite and in situ observations and from high-resolution model simulations?
  2. How do they influence mixing layer variability, water mass formation, and ocean heat uptake?

Indicative work program

  1. Careful characterization of the ocean physical properties according to their spatio-temporal scales by analysis of historical data from in situ and satellite observations and from regional high-resolution numerical simulations. We will focus on the Cape Basin-northern subantarctic region southwest of Africa.
  2. Composite study of different ocean fine-scale properties, including air-sea fluxes and atmospheric synoptic events to establish robust statistics depending on scales and processes.
  3. At the end of the thesis, based on the results obtained, we will be able to define the main processes of the regional thermocline water masses ventilation and define their role on the regional, but very relevant for climate change evolution, heat uptake pathways.


PhD supervisor

Prof. Sabrina Speich (, https://www.lmd.ens.fr/speich/)
Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique – IPSL
École normale supérieure – PSL
45 rue d’Ulm
75231 Paris Cedex 05, France



ENS-PSL, 24 rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris, France


Sabrina Speich

Compétences requises

Student profile

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with a Master’s degree in physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, or a related field. Applicants from physical or mathematical disciplines with an interest in climate science are also welcome.