Self-funded PhD opportunities

Measuring and modelling surface temperatures in areas of complex relief

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: Department of Geography
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr N Pepin

Research Project Code - GEOG1271015

The Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth has a position for doctoral (phD) research available for three years (full-time) for a suitably qualified candidate to start in February or October 2016 (UK or EU students only). Applicants are invited to submit a research proposal in the area of climatology/meteorology. 

Dr Nick Pepin (Reader in Climate Science) and head of Environmental Processes and Change Group (see is interested in supervising a student in the following research area: 

Measuring and modelling surface temperatures in areas of complex relief – understanding the impacts of climate change in mountain landscapes requires downscaling of model predictions to the local scale. Thus understanding spatial patterns in temperature, in particular the role of cold air drainage in arctic and mountain environments in causing surface/free air decoupling (and thus microclimates), is a focus of this research. The project is largely based on comparing field data and model simulations in a variety of locations, including Finnish Lapland, the Pyrenees, Colorado and East Africa. 
The use of satellite data (e.g. MODIS) to measure temperature in mountain regions is another area for potential research, in particular the validation of satellite technology for temperature measurement in complex landscapes using in situ field data. 

There is also potential for research on the relevance of microclimate and cold air drainage for palaeoclimate reconstruction in an Arctic context (in collaboration with Dr Laura Cunningham), and for investigations into glacier mass balance and retreat, both in the tropics (see Dr Pepin’s current research on Kilimanjaro) and in other high latitude locations (Svalbard and Norway). This is in collaboration with Dr Clare Boston and Dr Harold Lovell. 
Staff web pages also provide more information on individual research interests and the specific projects that staff members have recently undertaken 

The department also advertises research themes for Masters projects (MRes Science) – see the pdf for Geography under Course structure at 

Applicants for the phD programme are expected to have a good first degree (minimum upper second class Honours degree or equivalent) and ideally a Masters (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area. Non-accredited research and skills training is available through the University-wide Graduate School. If you so wish, you may discuss your ideas informally with Dr Nick Pepin (tel: 02392 842507: e-mail: ) or email We will also be happy to answer any questions regarding the application process. 

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpage:

When applying please note the project code - GEOG1271015

Alternatively you may receive a hard copy by contacting the Faculty of Science, Postgraduate Admissions Office, St. Michael's Building, White Swan Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2DT. Tel: +44 (0)23 9284 5550. 

Application Deadline: As appropriate 

Funding Notes:

This is currently for self-funded applicants. Periodically, funded positions (including tuition and maintenance grant) become available, and when this is the case, the funded positions will be advertised on this website. For other applications (welcome at any time) tuition fees will be payable for three years, full-time study (£3,996 per year – UK and EU students only).