Fracture Modeller

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is looking for a post-doctoral scientist or mathematician in the field of numerical modelling, geophysics, fluid mechanics, or fracture to investigate the impact of ice fracture processes in Antarctica on future sea-level rise. The successful candidate will assimilate physical observations from laboratory and field measurements into a viscoelastic phase-field model of fracture, develop this model, and apply it to real-world ice shelf geometries, to assess the role of calving, ice-shelf collapse, and ice-cliff failure on sea-level rise. Applicants will need to have expertise in the use of numerical/mathematical models or equivalent related expertise. This post is part of a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-funded scientific project: Rates of Ice Fracture and Timing of Tabular Iceberg Production (RIFT-TIP). The project runs from 2023 to 2027 and will investigate the development of fractures in the lead-up to calving through a mixture of field observations, laboratory testing, and modelling. The first ice samples were collected in the 2023-24 season ( and geophysical measurements will continue in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 field seasons. Field observations will be made primarily out of Halley Research Station, using seismic, radar, ApRES, and GPS data to investigate the evolution of cracks on the Brunt Ice Shelf. The project will drill shallow ice cores and acquire samples for laboratory testing in Cambridge to observe variation in physical properties of the ice, including grain size, fracture toughness, and impurity content. Seismic instruments, including borehole fibre optics, will record the location of cracks and energy released during fracture growth. The Brunt Ice Shelf has a long history of strain monitoring and in the last decade has seen the growth of several rift features such as Chasm-1 and Halloween Crack. Two large icebergs (A-74 and A-81) have calved in the last three years. New field and laboratory observations made as part of RIFT-TIP will be used to reinterpret existing measurements of crack behaviour from these events alongside information from satellite imagery. The geophysical data will feed into a fracture model of the ice shelf to identify how ice properties and local stresses influence the timing of crack growth and calving.

Duties and responsibilities can be directed by the successful applicant, and will include

  • Incorporating the physics of ice fracture into models of ice shelf dynamics.
  • Improving our understanding of the sensitivity of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to the process of ice fracture and investigating how fracture leads to calving of icebergs, ice shelf collapse and ice cliff failure.
  • Conducting tests using mathematical models and theories to investigate the structure, properties, and dynamics of cracks and damage within ice.
  • Modelling the timing of rift growth and validating model output using observations.
  • Presenting findings in the scientific literature and at international scientific conferences.

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