AOPP Summer Internships

2018 Summer Programme

Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics hosts a research internship programme for undergraduate students during the summer. Students work with a supervisor in the Department, usually a postdoctoral researcher or lecturer, on a self-contained research project. Students are also encouraged to take part in Departmental life, joining researchers for coffee, discussions and seminars. We anticipate taking about six students.

The projects run for up to 10 weeks, nominally from late June to August, though the duration may be shorter to accommodate summer travel. Students are paid a living wage for their time, around £300 per week. The project is full-time but hours can be discussed with your supervisor. Please note that projects are not available to applicants that require a work permit.

To apply for a project please email a CV, name and contact details for one academic reference, and a short covering letter explaining your interest in that placement to the email address given in the project description. Applications will be reviewed as received until the positions are filled.


Cleaning of the atmosphere by anvil clouds

The most uncertain component of our changing climate remains the interaction of clouds with particulates in the atmosphere (known as aerosols). Anvil clouds, produced by the vigorous convection associated with thunderstorms, extend to the base of the stratosphere and cycle through significant volumes of air. Aerosols in that air become nuclei for water condensation. As those precipitate, the anvil should "clean" the air it encounters.

Measurements of aerosol across Europe and Africa are generated every 15 minutes from a geostationary satellite by researchers in Oxfordshire. This project will use that data to identify anvil clouds and then quantify the change in aerosol loading as they form and travel. A skilled student could also evaluate the impact on the Earth's radiation budget (and, therefore, the climate).

Skills Required

This project would suit a student with experience in using mathematics to analyse large data sets. An understanding of basic statistics is essential. A familiarity with scientific Python, IDL, or similar is preferred.

How to Apply

Supervisors: Prof. Don Grainger and Dr. Adam Povey

Contact: Dr. Adam Povey (adam.povey AT

Modeling the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation in the laboratory

The Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) is a cyclic reversal of the zonal winds in the middle and lower tropical stratosphere on a timescale of roughly two years. It dominates the climate of the tropical stratosphere, influencing the long range transport of momentum, heat and chemical constituents. It is also thought to play an important role in influencing the predictability of various features at higher latitudes and in the troposphere. Although the basic mechanisms that drive the QBO are reasonably well understood, arising from the nonlinear interaction of upward-propagating internal gravity and planetary waves (generated in the troposphere) with the zonal flow, its detailed variability is complex, chaotic and much less well understood. The atmosphere often surprises modelers with events such as the recently observed “stalling” of the QBO that their models failed to predict. The likely impact of future global climate change on the QBO is also quite controversial and uncertain.

In this project, we propose to study a number of mechanisms that might influence the behavior of the QBO using a laboratory analogue of the QBO, in which factors such as the wave forcing and other parameters can be closely controlled and varied. Internal waves are launched into a salt-stratified fluid in an annular channel by oscillating flexible membranes in the bottom of the tank. Each segment of the membrane can be separately controlled by computer to enable varying spectra of internal waves to be excited and for the amplitude of the waves to be varied in time (thereby emulating the seasonal cycle and other modulations). The response of the fluid to this forcing in the form of time varying velocity fields will then be measured by optical particle imaging techniques.

This project would involve setting up and running the experiment over a range of wave forcing profiles and frequencies, acquiring images of tracer particles and analyzing them to determine flow velocities as a function of time and space.

Skills Required

Laboratory and some programming experience (e.g MATLAB, Python etc).

How to Apply

Supervisor: Dr Alfonso Castrejon-Pita (Engineering Science), Dr Peter Read

Contact: Dr Alfonso Castrejon-Pita (, Dr Peter Read (