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Understanding the timing and drivers of drought in New Zealand

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Academic background
Host campus
Associate Professor Chris Moy, Dr Christina Riesselman, Dr Marcus Vandergoes (GNS Science)


We are currently seeking a PhD student to investigate the spatial extent, magnitude and the climatic forcing of past drought on the South Island. This PhD project will involve 1) collection of geophysical data and sediment cores from multiple lakes, 2) generation of geochemical (stable isotope and elemental) and paleoenvironmental (diatom) data sets to evaluate past changes in water balance, and 3) integration of these data sets with established paleoclimate records and climate models.

The successful applicant will take advantage of facilities available at Otago University to carry out this work: 1) a Uwitec percussion piston coring system capable of collecting sediment cores up to 25m in length; 2) multibeam and chirp instruments that are part of the Otago Near Geophysical Imaging Facility, 3) non-destructive instrumentation within the newly established Otago analytical core repository, including a Geotek multi-sensor core logger and new Itrax XRF scanner, 4) laboratory facilities for the extraction and preparation of sediments for stable isotope and diatom abundance/paleoecological analysis.

The project is ideal for individuals with multidisciplinary interests in climate science, geochemistry, paleoecology and sedimentology. We are seeking an individual that has enthusiasm for field work, experience working in a geochemistry laboratory and demonstrated research experience (MSc preferred; BSc with honors thesis considered).

The selected candidate will be funded by a competitive University of Otago PhD Scholarship, which includes a 3-year stipend of NZD$27,000 per year (tax free and includes a fee waiver), research costs, and travel support to national and international conferences. Both New Zealand and international students are encouraged to apply.

The appointment will be based in the Department of Geology, University of Otago.


Chris Moy