convection model

Non-Oberbeck-Boussinesq Effects in the Ultimate State of Rapidly Rotating Rayleigh-Bénard Convection

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary, tuition fees 

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 25 October 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2024

For further details contact: Susanne Horn


This PhD project tackles one of the key processes that drive the dynamics of planetary atmospheres and interiors: turbulent convection.

Project details

In these systems, convection is turbulent and subject to intense planetary rotation. Therefore, rapidly rotating Rayleigh-Bénard convection affords an excellent model system for many of the thermally driven and rotationally constrained flows occurring in nature. It consists of liquid or gas confined between a warm bottom boundary and a cold top boundary rotated around the vertical axis. Crucially, in planetary atmospheres and interiors, the material properties are not constant but vary with temperature and pressure, contrary to most current numerical simulations and mathematical theories. The change of the flow behaviour due to these non-constant material properties are referred to as non-Oberbeck-Boussinesq (NOB) effects.

The PhD researcher will study these NOB effects in the asymptotic “ultimate state” of convective turbulence by means of numerical simulations using our in-house code goldfish. This extreme regime of convection has challenged previous numerical models but incorporating the NOB effects into the code will enable the PhD researcher to unequivocally diagnose its emergence for the first time and allow meaningful extrapolation to geophysical and astrophysical settings.

This project offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the field of planetary science and to develop a world-leading expertise in geophysical and numerical fluid dynamics. The successful candidate will also be able to develop an extensive scientific network by working with the best experts in the field word-wide, through extensive collaboration across the USA and Europe.


Tuition fees and stipend (£17,668)


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. 

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Candidate specification

Entry criteria for applicants to PhD 

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

Entry criteria for applicants to MSc/MA by Research

  • Minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average

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Additional requirements

Experience in fluid mechanics and/or with numerical simulations is strongly advised. The position is fully funded for a period of 3.5 years and is expected to start in September 2023 or January 2024.

To express interest in this PhD opportunity, please send a CV and a full transcript of academic records to Susanne Horn (Coventry University, Informal enquiries are encouraged.

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Susanne Horn

All applications require a covering letter and a 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.  

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