Heatwaves have severe and adverse impacts on the health of Australians. While Australia is no stranger to heatwaves, increasing trends in their intensity, frequency and duration have been observed, with specific events having notable human health impacts. For example, in 2009 over 370 people were killed in the heatwave that preceded the Black Saturday fires, and a 2014 heatwave over Melbourne saw hospital admissions relating to cardiac diseases increase seven-fold.

The field of detection and attribution has seen rapid growth in recent years, where the influence of anthropogenic climate change on the frequency and/or intensity of a specific extreme event is quantified. Recently, the field has seen a shift towards quantifying how anthropogenic climate change has altered the impacts of a specific extreme event.

This research project will examine the influence of anthropogenic climate change on health impacts of Australians. It will involve defining and becoming familiar with several high-impact heatwaves in the observed climatological record, and determining who is most vulnerable and from which diseases. Such analysis is likely to demonstrate regional and temporal variation and will require the analysis of climate (e.g. observations and projections from climate models) and human health (e.g. hospital admissions) data. Once the health impacts of significant heatwaves have been isolated, cutting-edge methods in detection and attribution will be employed to determine the role of anthropogenic climate change in them.

The project will be based at the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW Australia. It will be jointly supervised by Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick and A/Prof Donna Green. The successful candidate will become affiliated with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, an international research consortium of five Australian universities (The University of New South Wales, Monash University, The University of Melbourne, The University of Tasmania and The Australian National University) and a suite of outstanding national and international Partner Organisations. The Centre provides excellent opportunities for travel and graduate student development.

We are looking for outstanding graduates with a strong academic record including an Honours Class I or equivalent. Graduates with a background in climate or atmospheric science, or similar quantitative sciences are welcome, as well as those from epidemiological sciences. While having experience in both fields is desirable, it is not essential.  The PhD program will provide an opportunity for the student to develop their skills in either field. If coming from a climate background, programming experience with Matlab, Python, R or a similar language is desirable.

Inquiries may be directed to Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick ( sarah.kirkpatrick@unsw.edu.au ).
A CV, full academic transcript and the names of up to three academic referees should be sent to arccss.grad@unsw.edu.au.
A $5,000 p/a top-up is provided by the Climate Change Research Centre in addition to the stipend.
Closing date: Monday, 20 June, 2018