Postgraduate research project

Triggers and Feedbacks of Climate Tipping Points

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Abrupt changes in the climate system could have potentially devastating socio-economic impacts. Simulating them in future climate scenarios is therefore of great importance. Future climate change scenarios are often based on the average or mean of climate model projections where abrupt changes and tipping points can appear in one or a few realizations of a subset of the models (Drijfhout et al. 2015).  Additionally, climate models are often tuned to simulate a stable version of the present-day climate and remain untested in abrupt climate shift scenarios. 

We propose to extend the findings of Drijfhout et al. (2015) with the newest generation of climate model simulations, generating a catalog of abrupt changes, along with analysis of the relevant feedbacks that may lead to abrupt change. For instance, changes in ocean heat and freshwater transports have a large impact on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which is the main mode of ocean circulation in the Atlantic and impacts European climate.  The initial focus will be on AMOC tipping points, with an additional focus on other tipping points that can be chosen from the catalogue of abrupt changes (i.e. abrupt sea ice loss, vegetation changes, etc.).  

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.

Lead supervisor

  • Doctor Jennifer Mecking (National Oceanography Centre)


  • Professor Sybren Drijfhou (University of Southampton)
  • Doctor Marilena Oltmanns (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Doctor Ale Sanchez-Frankst (National Oceanography Centre)