Professor Graham Underwood (School of Life Sciences, University of Essex)
Dr Alina Marca (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
‘Blue carbon’, or carbon in marine environments, is receiving increasing attention from scientists and policy makers. The capacity of marine systems to mitigate against CO2 emissions by storing carbon, provides the potential to value these systems as a method of off-setting carbon emissions. However, significant uncertainty remains around the size of carbon stocks, their sources and burial. This studentship will fill critical gaps in understanding of the fluxes of carbon across coastal transition zones and into shelf sediments.
The project will focus on the salt marsh, intertidal mud flats and offshore shallow seas along the East Anglian coastline, benefitting from existing datasets, and strong relationships between supervisors and regional stakeholders (Conservation organisations, Government Agencies, Local Authorities). Hypotheses concerning the different sources and sinks for carbon across gradients from the upper intertidal to sub-littoral zones along estuaries, including vegetated and unvegetated sediment, will be tested. Fieldwork will include spatial and temporal sample collection (sediment cores), identification of sources and burial rates of carbon using isotopic analysis (including δ13C and δ15N), and associated biological and environmental parameter. These data will be used in an estuary-coast-shelf observational and modelling (OMEXDIA) approach (Cefas) to estimate carbon budgets.
The candidate will be based at Essex, but have opportunities to spend time at Cefas (data modelling; links to coastal policy development) and UEA (stable isotope analysis), equipping them with a relevant set of skills and wider network. There will be a significant amount of coastal fieldwork, and the opportunity to participate in Cefas-led research cruises on the North Sea, providing key fieldwork skills (project management, sampling in the field, organisation and coordination of fieldwork logistics). Support will be provided for participation in national and international conferences at the discretion and approval of the supervisory team.
The successful candidate will have a degree in a relevant scientific discipline (marine sciences, earth sciences, environmental sciences). Some experience of chemical laboratory analyses and coastal or estuarine fieldwork experience would be preferred.