Funded scholarship opportunities

PhD scholarships (2) in New Zealand on Methane Modeling and Observations

The University of Auckland in partnership with the National Institute for Water and Atmosphere Research in New Zealand seek two highly motivated PhD candidates for three-year PhD studentships on modelling and observing atmospheric greenhouse gases in support of the MethaneSAT satellite mission. MethaneSAT is a joint American and Aotearoa-New Zealand  initiative to quantify anthropogenic methane emissions around the world using satellite data with unprecedented precision. The MethaneSAT Mission Operation and Control Centre is hosted at University of Auckland.


One student project will focus on using atmospheric models and observations from the MethaneSAT satellite and MethaneAIR aircraft campaigns to estimate CH4 emissions from agricultural processes. The other project will focus on field observations of CH4 and utilization of those measurements to estimate methane fluxes to evaluate satellite-based estimates. The students will be part of a multi-disciplinary research team working with atmospheric modelling and measurements. Prior to launch, the students will use observations from MethaneAIR, an instrument nearly identical to MethaneSAT developed for operation onboard aircraft. The successful applicants will collaborate closely with the MethaneSAT science team both in New Zealand and at Harvard University. One of the candidates will physically be based at NIWA in Wellington, New Zealand, while the other at the University of Auckland. The students will have the opportunity to spend time at the Harvard University and work closely with the Harvard MethaneSAT team.

 The students will be expected to enroll as a PhD student at The University of Auckland (UOA), and they will be co-supervised by Beata Bukosa (NIWA), Sara Mikaloff Fletcher (NIWA) and David Noone (UOA). Prospective candidates must have a background in chemistry, physics, Earth science, or related discipline, have an aptitude for mathematics, be proficient in one or more scientific programming languages within a UNIX environment. Candidates must be eligible for acceptance to The University of Auckland’s PhD program, requiring a Masters or equivalent degree.

The start date will be in the second half of 2023. For full considerations applications should be received by 31/8/2023.  Applications should include a cover letter, a recent CV highlighting relevant experience and evidence of eligibility for The University of Auckland PhD program. Information about doctoral study at the University of Auckland can be found at

Please direct questions and applications to Dr. Beata Bukosa ( or Prof. David Noone (

Other Research Topics for Postgraduate Students


 Antarctic Coastal Currents – Antarctic coastal currents transport heat and freshwater along the coast next to the ice shelves as well as acting as a leaky barrier to exchange with the deeper ocean. Observations on the shelf in the northwestern Ross Sea will be used to assess the coastal current flowing towards the East Antarctic glaciers, the correspondence of the flow with the wind and the amount of exchange with the deeper ocean. Contact Melissa for more information (


Antarctic Polynya Operation – Polynya are largely ice-free regions around Antarctica. This project would combine existing 1D models of ice and ocean to look at their interdependencies in the context of recent data collected from Terra Nova Bay Antarctica. Contact Craig for more information (


Ice Shelf Ocean Cavity –  We have collected new data describing ocean processes in the Ross Ice Shelf cavity right by the ice-covered coast.  This project would develop time-series analyses of these data to help understand the mechanics influencing ice shelf melting in this zone. Contact Craig for more information (

Tropical Cyclones – Tropical cyclones can present a major risk to human systems and life, and play an important role in the energy balance of the climate system. But they also might have an important impact on ocean ecology, by seeding and promoting massive blooms of phytoplankton in areas typically thought to be ocean deserts. We will investigate these tropical cyclone induced blooms in the South Pacific, especially the recent mega-bloom near Vanuatu in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Oma, to see what triggers such coupled events and their eventual impact on carbon cycle, food webs, and fisheries. Contact Chris for more information


Sea Ice – Sea ice is an enduring, enigmatic, and ephemeral part of Earth’s climate system. Covering up to 10% of Earth’s surface, it controls the exchange of heat, mass, and momentum between the atmosphere and ocean, but as the Earth warms, this control is weakening in critical ways for ecosystems and ocean dynamics. This project will focus on understanding changes to the transmission of energy through sea ice in a warming world, combining satellite altimetry and climate model simulations. Contact Chris for more information (

Climate Modelling of Clouds – Clouds remain the main source of uncertainty in climate models’ prediction of the climate. In this project we will investigate how the uncertainty in the spatial distribution of clouds leads to uncertainty in the radiative effects of clouds in models. The results would be useful in efforts to improve the accuracy of the representation of clouds and climate in models. Contact Tra for more information (

Water Cycle Atmospheric Circulation – This project investigates the atmospheric circulation that underlies the water cycle. We aim to develop the theoretical basis that quantifies the strength of this circulation. The result would allow us to predict how the water cycle and the global rainfall amount will change as the climate changes. Contact Tra for more information (

Formation of clouds and water in the atmosphere– Knowledge of how clouds form and produce precipitation is central to accurate prediction of extreme weather conditions and climate. Using data from the research aircraft and from satellite remote sensing, new understanding of cloud microphysics is developed and linked to atmospheric turbulence processes.  Contact David for more information (

Tracking trace gases – Methane, carbon dioxide and other trace gases are dominant forcing to global warming. Evaluating the sources atmospheric gas and aerosol particulate pollution is both important for meeting local and international regulation, and holds technical challenges in measurement and data synthesis technologies. Measurements from the ground and autonomous aircraft (UAVs) are developed and combined with atmospheric modeling.  Contact David for more information (

Acceleration of the hydrological cycle – Changes in the climate system, both in the past and the in the future, are associated with shifts in the atmospheric circulation patterns and the rate at which water vapor moves from evaporation to precipitation locations. Understanding how water moves though the atmosphere as part of the global heat engine provides insight into the sensitivity of the climate system and helps uncover climate of the past. Contact David for more information (