Carbon uptake by seasonally ice-covered Antarctic waters


Carbon uptake by seasonally ice-covered Antarctic waters


Project Description


Dr Dorothee Bakker, University of East Anglia – Contact me

Dr Robert Hall, University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences

Professor Tom Bell, Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Dr Hugh Venables, British Antarctic Survey

Scientific background

While the ocean takes up a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activity, paradoxically newly formed Antarctic Bottom Water contains little of such ‘anthropogenic’ CO2, probably because sea ice hampers air-sea CO2 exchange. Sea ice also mediates relevant processes such as phytoplankton growth and surface mixing, while brine drainage from sea ice facilitates the transfer of carbon to depth.

Project objectives

1)         Quantify ocean CO2 uptake by Antarctic waters,

2)         Determine the role of sea ice and other drivers in this uptake and in carbon transfer to depth.

Research methodology

You will investigate the drivers of year-to-year variation in ocean CO2 uptake by carrying out carbonate chemistry analyses on seawater samples collected at the Rothera Time Series (West-Antarctic Peninsula), by calculating CO2 uptake and by placing your data in a context of the recent rapid decline in seasonal sea ice cover. If this interests you, you may determine the impacts of ocean acidification on local marine ecosystems.

You will also quantify the importance of sea ice for ocean CO2 uptake and carbon transfer to depth near the Larsen Ice Shelf, using data collected in February 2024 on the multiplatform, multidisciplinary PICCOLO (Processes Influencing Carbon Cycling: Observations of the Lower limb of the Antarctic Overturning) cruise. Data sets for air-sea CO2 fluxes, carbonate chemistry and diverse biological and physical variables will be available.

You will put your new data in a wider perspective using data from autonomous platforms, other ships and satellites.


You will:

  • Be trained in chemical analyses;
  • Develop skills in data analysis and programming (Python or Matlab);
  • Join the dynamic PICCOLO and Rothera Time Series science teams;
  • Present research at an international scientific conference and in peer-reviewed publications;

While working on a project of global significance. Fieldwork is not an integral part of this project, however, there might be opportunities to gain seagoing experience.

Person specification

We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active team player with strong scientific interests, self-motivation and numerical skills. You will have at least a 2.1 honours BSc degree in chemistry, natural sciences, environmental sciences, physics, mathematics or similar numerical subject.


  • 1 Droste, E. S., Hoppema, M., González-Dávila, M., Santana-Casiano, J. M., Queste, B. Y., Dall’Olmo, G., Venables, H. J., Rohardt, G., Ossebaar, S., Schuller, D., Trace-Kleeberg, S., Bakker, D. C. E. (2022) The influence of tides on the marine carbonate chemistry of a coastal polynya in the south-eastern Weddell Sea. Ocean Science 18(5), 1293-1320, doi:10.5194/os-18-1293-2022.
  • 2 Landschützer, P., Gruber, N., Haumann, F. A., Rödenbeck, C., Bakker, D. C. E., Van Heuven, S., Hoppema, M., Metzl, N., Sweeney, C., Takahashi, T., Tilbrook, B., Wanninkhof, R. (2015) The reinvigoration of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. Science 349 (6253): 1221-1224. doi:10.1126/science.aab2620.Landschützer, P., Gruber, N., Haumann, F. A., Rödenbeck, C., Bakker, D. C. E., Van Heuven, S., Hoppema, M., Metzl, N., Sweeney, C., Takahashi, T., Tilbrook, B., Wanninkhof, R. (2015) The reinvigoration of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. Science 349 (6253): 1221-1224. doi:10.1126/science.aab2620.
  • 3 Legge, O. J., Bakker, D. C. E., Johnson, M. T., Meredith, M. P, Venables, H. J., Brown, P. J., Lee, G. A. (2015) The seasonal cycle of ocean-atmosphere CO2 Flux in Ryder Bay, West Antarctic Peninsula. Geophysical Research Letters 42(8): 2934-2942. doi:10.1002/2015GL063796.
  • 4 Venables, H., Meredith, M. P., Hendry, K. R., Ten Hoopen, P., Peat, H., Chapman, A., Beaumont, J., Piper, R., Miller, A. J., Mann, P., Rossetti, H., Massey, A., Souster, T., Reeves, S., Fenton, M., Heiser, S., Pountney, S., Reed, S., Waring, Z., Clark, M., Bolton, E., Mathews, R., London, H., Clement, A., Stuart, E., Reichardt, A., Brandon, M., Leng, M., Arrowsmith, C., Annett, A., Henley, S. F., & Clarke, A. (2023). Sustained year-round oceanographic measurements from Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, 1997–2017. Scientific Data, 10(1), 265.
  • 5 Watts, J., Bell, T. G., Anderson, K., Butterworth, B. J., Miller, S., Else, B. and Shutler, J. (2022) Impact of sea ice on air-sea CO2 exchange – a critical review of polar eddy covariance studies. Progress in Oceanography: 102741.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2024. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 10th January 2024.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£18,622 p.a. for 2023/24) and research funding. International applicants are eligible for fully-funded ARIES studentships including fees. Please note however that ARIES funding does not cover additional costs associated with relocation to, and living in, the UK. We expect to award between 4 and 6 studentships to international candidates in 2024.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences, on top of all Research Costs associated with the project. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses.
  • ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience, and our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor. To apply for this Studentship follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or click the 'apply now' link.
  • ARIES is required by our funders to collect Equality and Diversity Information from all of our applicants. The information you provide will be used solely for monitoring and statistical purposes; it will remain confidential, and will be stored on the UEA sharepoint server. Data will not be shared with those involved in making decisions on the award of Studentships, and will have no influence on the success of your application. It will only be shared outside of this group in an anonymised and aggregated form. You will be ask to complete the form by the University to which you apply.
  • ARIES funding is subject to UKRI terms and conditions. Postgraduate Researchers are expected to live within reasonable distance of their host organisation for the duration of their studentship. See for more information

Applications open

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