Whilst studying for my BSc (Hons) Geography degree at Portsmouth University (2007-2010) I gained an appreciation for the role of climate change in shaping polar environments. To explore this, my dissertation involved evaluating indigenous Sámi perceptions of climate change in Arctic Finland and the subsequent environmental changes that they have observed. Having completed this, I then took a particular interest in the science behind such changes, and thus pursued an MSc in Atmospheric Sciences at the UEA. My Masters dissertation involved the investigation of the extent to which Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) acts as a reservoir of energy in the atmosphere for the formation and maintenance of mesoscale polar lows. I completed my Masters and began my PhD in 2011.

Additional Contacts

Room No: na
Tel No: 01223 221389

Key Research Interests

My research interests are particularly focused on the meteorology and climatology of polar regions (especially dynamical mesoscale weather systems and processes), and our ability to accurately model such processes. I am also interested in the role climate change plays in shaping polar regions, and the subsequent impacts environmental change will have upon terrestrial and marine polar ecosystems.

My PhD

My PhD will explore the role of orographic processes in controlling the climate of South Georgia.

The island of South Georgia is a small remote subantarctic island located north of Antarctica in the Southern Ocean. South Georgia is very mountainous, having 19 peaks over 2000m in a north-west to south-east chain. The island is also located within the centre of strong westerly winds that circumnavigate the continent, and this forms an effective barrier to the stably-stratified westerly winds that impinge upon it. If the strength of the westerlies is sufficient, strong downslope winds can develop on the lee side of the island, causing dramatic temperature increases as the descending air warms adiabatically (a phenomenon known as the föhn effect). Average summer temperatures on South Georgia have risen by ~1oC since the 1920’s, while glaciers have retreated at variable rates on the windward and lee sides of the island. In parallel with these changes, surface westerlies have increased by ~3ms-1.

Using observations and high-resolution model runs (using the WRF model); I will determine whether the observed pattern of change on South Georgia is a result of the interaction of the strengthening westerlies with the island’s orography. Understanding these effects will provide greater confidence in modelling future regional climates, thus providing more robust predictions concerning the island’s terrestrial and marine environments, which support two incredibly rich and delicate ecosystems.

Research Group Membership

John King (BAS)
Ian Renfrew (UEA)