Dr Vassilis Kitidis, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Mrs Marie Palmer, University of Plymouth
Dr Simon Ussher, University of Plymouth
The natural weathering of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) rich minerals and rocks over geological time scales, controls the bulk chemical composition and pH of seawater and influenced the ecological success of marine calcifiers over millions of years due to the effects on their skeletal secretion [1-2]. The recent global development of ocean alkalinity enhancement (OAE), a carbon dioxide removal (CDR) method by which Ca- and/or Mg-rich rock powders are added to seawater to convert dissolved CO2 into bicarbonate or carbonic acid , has the potential to dramatically accelerate the changes to Ca2+ and Mg2+ in coastal seas with possibly significant impacts on marine calcifiers . To assess these possible impacts, we need to improve our understanding of the natural variability of Ca and Mg concentrations in seawater  and how expected changes of these will impact marine calcifiers. The successful candidate for this project will work in the natural laboratory of Plymouth Sound to establish the first baseline of the natural variability of Mg2+ and Ca2+ over ecological time scales. The results will help to mitigate and environmental impact of OAE.
This studentship will take advantage of world leading research vessels and facilities at the Western Channel Observatory and the University of Plymouth (UoP). Water samples from Plymouth Sound will be regularly sampled and analysed for Mg2+, Ca2+, pH, DIC, alkalinity, and salinity at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the UoP. Alongside this, bivalves will be cultured at the aquaculture facilities at the UoP at various Mg/Ca ratios and analysed for oxygen consumption, tissue growth and shell secretion.
You will receive training in oceanographic surveys, marine sampling, sensor deployment, and the analysis of dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity, marine aquaculture, electron microscopy, and to work in ISO 9001 certified laboratories. You will gain expertise in analytical techniques for elemental analysis such as Inductively Coupled Plasma- Atomic Emission Spectroscopy, and data analysis and programming skills (Python, R, Matlab).
Suited for applicants with a degree in an Earth, environmental, or biological science subject and a passion for multidisciplinary environmental and biological research.