Earth’s climate has undergone major transitions from the ice-free “greenhouse world” of the Eocene (56 to 34 million years ago) to a cooler world with ice sheets. The Oligocene (34 to 23 million years ago) marked the first permanent ice sheets on Antarctica, while the Northern Hemisphere remained largely ice-free even until the Miocene (23 to 5 million years ago). Accurate modelling of this climate evolution is extremely important, since it informs and constrains modelling of future climate change scenarios. This PhD project will undertake coupled climate model simulations of the Oligocene and Miocene, using Australia’s state-of-the art community earth system model ACCESS-ESM1.5. This will provide direct geological constraints on Australia’s future climate change projections, using geological evidence from past warm climates. This is of great importance, because both the past and future are expected to have very warm polar climates compared to the present day, and our current climate models do not adequately explain this polar warming.

The project will be jointly supervised by Dr David Hutchinson, Prof Katrin Meissner, and A/Prof Laurie Menviel. The project forms part of Dr Hutchinson’s ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship. The successful candidate will be based at the Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Sydney. They will have the opportunity to join the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS), and/or the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (CLEX), two large consortiums of Australian universities offering excellent opportunities for networking, funding for travel and collaboration.

We are seeking expressions of interest from graduates with a strong academic record (Honours Class 1 or Masters equivalent). Graduates with a strong background in physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, computer science, physics, mathematics or engineering are particularly encouraged to apply. Experience in, or willingness to learn scientific programming experience is essential (e.g. Python, Julia, C or a similar language).

Please contact David Hutchinson ( to apply or for more information. Expressions of interest, including a full CV and academic transcripts, and the names of up to 3 academic referees should be submitted by 9th September 2022. Note: this is not an official application, if your expression of interest is accepted, we will guide you through the application process.