Department of Geography

Peter Carpenter Africa Climate Scholarship

Under the very generous support from Sussex Alumnus Peter Carpenter we offer scholarships to African students to undertake PhD projects on Africa climate science.

PhD scholarship in climate science for African scientists at the University of Sussex


  • To enhance the climate science capacity in Africa through highly trained scientists.
  • To improve understanding of the African climate system.
  • To improve the quality of climate information to inform decision-making and to reduce uncertainty in future climate projections over Africa.

The PhD programme

This prestigious fully-funded PhD Peter Carpenter Climate Change scholarship is awarded to top academic African citizens to build capacity in climate change research and related skills within the continent.

The PhD programme is hosted within the Climate Science and Society Research (CSSR) group in the department of Geography, where there is a vibrant research programme into the African climate and related fields. Our aims are to better understand the nature, causes, impacts and consequences of climate variability/change and their representation in models, leading to improved climate information to inform decision-making in water and agricultural planning and risk management.

The PhD projects will be aligned and associated with major African climate research topics in which the Sussex team are involved. This provides a stimulating and supportive context for the PhD research with excellent networking opportunities. The precise focus of the PhD research will depend on candidate’s expertise and interests within climate variability/change, extremes, predictability and impacts. The University offers state-of-the-art computing facilities for climate research.

Climate Change research at Sussex

The CCSR is part of a wider cross-campus Sussex Climate Change initiative. The network brings together researchers from the University of Sussex and the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) in a multi-disciplinary programme of research and teaching to improve our understanding of how climate change is developing, the impacts on people and the implications for mitigation and adaptation policy and action. As such, our doctoral students are part of a vibrant hub of climate research and teaching.


For further information email

Read the inspirational stories of some of our Peter Carpenter Scholars

Successful Scholars

Netsanet Alamirew (BSc: Addis Ababa University, MSc: Cape Town University, PhD: University of Sussex) email:

Netsanet Alamirew

Alamirew, Netsanet (2018) Comprehensive analysis of thermodynamics,dynamics and associated variability. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

My name is Netsanet Alamirew. I am from Ethiopia. I have graduated with a PhD degree from University of Sussex.  It was great privilege to be one of the recipients of competitive Peter Carpenter Scholarship which provides financial assistance to highly motivated and outstanding students from African countries to carry out PhD study in climate science.

My PhD research focused on the climate of the Saharan Heat Low (SHL), a region of high temperature at the core of Sahara desert. The SHL is a region immense of scientific research interest because of the role it plays in the initiation, development, and retreat of the West Africa Monsoon circulation which provides rainfall for millions of people living in the Sahel region. Specifically I investigated major dynamical and thermodynamical processes that influence the SHL. Moreover I quantified the role of dust aerosol and water vapour in controlling the heat budget of the SHL. I have published my research results on high impact journal. Two other papers are under preparation. 

During my PhD study I had the chance to travel and attend workshops, trainings, and summer schools in different countries that gave me the opportunity to present my research and interact with people from different places. This program has enabled me gain high academic skill and knowledge in climate science under the supervision of world class scientists in the field.  I had an overall exciting experience studying here at Sussex. Currently I am working as post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex further building my experience and knowledge in climate science.  

Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate related hazards partly due to climate-sensitive livelihoods and limited adaptation capabilities. As an Ethiopian I am very much aware of the important of weather/climate hazards. In relation to this, there is a need for skilled professionals in the climate science who can inform decision makers on climate change. I am keen to apply my scientific knowledge and thus build my future career in climate research specifically in my country and in general in Africa. Finally I would like to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to Mr. Peter Carpenter for his generosity providing financial assistance without which it would have been difficult to reach where I am now. This programme, not only gives opportunity to individuals build personal scientific career but also contributes on a longer run to the development of climate science and related fields in Africa as a whole.  

Papers published during my PhD studies include:

Alamirew, Netsanet K, Todd, Martin C, Ryder, C L, Marsham, John H and Wang, Y (2018) The early summertime Saharan heat low: sensitivity of the radiation budget and atmospheric heating to water vapor and dust aerosol. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18 (2). pp. 1241-1262. ISSN 1680-7316

Melissa Lazenby (BSc: University of Pretoria, BSc Hons: University of Pretoria, PhD: University of Sussex) email:

Melissa Lazenby

Lazenby, Melissa J (2017) Evaluating model performance and constraining uncertainty using a processed-based framework for Southern African precipitation in historical and future climate projections. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and went to University in Pretoria to study Meteorology. After University I was set to start as a weather forecaster at the South African Weather Service and I was approached by the Peter Carpenter Scholarship and before I knew it I was on a plane to England. I feel quite connected to climate change, it’s a very personal thing because it’s happening where I’m from. My family have experienced the droughts and farmers committing suicide. It’s really important we are able to predict events so we can ensure there is provision for the future.

During my 4 years of study, my research focused on southern African Climate Change during which time I travelled to Vietnam, Tanzania, Cape Town and gave guest lectures at Sussex and Oxford University. I also had the opportunity to present my research at the Met Office at the African PEG meetings. A highlight of my studies, was the privilege to present my PhD work at the House of Lords in London with Peter Carpenter in the audience. My PhD thesis looked at how certain future climate change predictions for southern Africa are. My research makes a stark warning that October, November and December are set to become incredibly dry on the southern part of the continent. This drought is likely to have a huge impact on where rain occurs and will adversely affect agriculture and water security. Africa has been dealing with the effects of climate change since the 1970s, globally we must find a way to mitigate this and the more information scientists produce about it the better.

I have published 3 articles in reputable climate journals and will continue growing my publication list. I was also an associate tutor for the 4 years, teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate courses and it was during this time I developed a passion for lecturing so I has accepted a position as a teaching fellow at the University of Sussex from 1st August 2017. I have been privileged enough to obtain a permanent lectureship in physical Geography at the University of Sussex, which is my current role where I continue my research in climate change and impart the knowledge to my students. I only hope to inspire other students at Sussex to engage and learn more about Climate Change as much as I have.

Papers published during my PhD studies include:

  1. Lazenby, Melissa J, Todd, Martin C, Chadwick, Robin and Wang, Yi (2018) Future precipitation projections over central and southern Africa and the adjacent Indian Ocean: what causes the changes and the uncertainty? Journal of Climate, 31 (12). pp. 4807-4826. ISSN 0894-8755
  2. Lazenby, Melissa J, Todd, Martin C and Wang, Yi (2016) Climate model simulation of the South Indian Ocean Convergence Zone: mean state and variability. Climate Research, 68 (1). pp. 59-71. ISSN 0936-577X
  3. Lazenby, Melissa J, Landman, Willem A, Garland, Rebecca M and DeWitt, David G (2014) Seasonal temperature prediction skill over Southern Africa and human health. Meteorological Applications. ISSN 1350-4827

Without the generous funding of the Peter Carpenter Scholarship my PhD studies would not have been possible, therefore Peter Carpenter is thanked immensely for funding my studies. Being awarded the Peter Carpenter Scholarship in 2013 completely changed my life for the better, allowing me opportunities I never dreamed of. I now have the amazing opportunity to acquire and impart knowledge that I believe has the impact to make Africa and the world a better place. 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

Melissa and Netsanet at Met OfficeMelissa and Netsanet at Met Office

The African Climate Change Conference in Tanzania from the 15-18th of October 2013The African Climate Change Conference in Tanzania from the 15-18th of October 2013

Current Holders of the Peter Carpenter Scholarship

Kiswendsida Hyacinthe Guigma (MSc, Institut Hydrométorologique de Formation et de Recherches. Oran-Algeria). Email :

Kiswendsida Hyacinthe GuigmaI am Kiswendsida GUIGMA. I joined the University of Sussex in October 2017 to undertake PhD research thanks to the Peter Carpenter African Climate Scholarship. Previously I have worked for one year at the National Meteorological Agency (NAMA) of Burkina Faso (my home country). I have also spent five years at the Hydrometeorological Institute for Training and Research (IHFR) in Algeria from where I graduated in 2016 with a MSc in Meteorology.

My PhD thesis aims at documenting prolonged periods of extreme heat (a.k.a heatwaves) in the West African Sahel. The climate of this region is already hot. As a result, when it gets far warmer than usual people are exposed to very unpleasant conditions with negative impacts on health, energy and related socio-economic sectors. My role as a climate scientist is mainly to find out what causes these events. So in the first part of my thesis on which I am currently working, I am using the laws of physics to investigate the local processes as well as the large-scale conditions that favour them. This understanding will open the way towards a better predictability. My second main objective is therefore to assess how predictable are Sahelian heatwaves in terms of both lead-time and correctness. The results of my research will be useful to governments, humanitarian organizations and other stakeholders willing to take measures to mitigate the negative impacts of heatwaves. In a particular way, they will be relevant for the scaling of Forecast-Based early Action/Financing (FbA/FbF) plans for the Sahel.

The Peter Carpenter Scholarship marked a turning point in my life. Not only, has it allowed me to realize my dream of reaching the PhD level in my studies but in addition it granted me my first experience with the Anglo-Saxon world. I am happy to now speak English (though still improving), to live in Brighton and enjoy the wonderful campus of the University of Sussex. But beyond my own self, the scholarship is making a noticeable contribution to the science and therefore human societies in Africa, and the Sahel in my specific case. On their behalf, I say “BARK WUSGO” (thank you in Moore, a Burkina –Faso language) to Mr Carpenter for such a great opportunity. May other young and enthusiast Africans benefit from his generosity for the common good of humanity.