Dr Penelope Pickers, UEA
Professor Paul Palmer, University of Edinburgh
The oceans are the world’s most important long-term carbon dioxide (CO2) sink and substantially reduce climate change by sucking up vast amounts of fossil fuel CO2 emissions (~9.3 million tonnes CO2 every year). This might not continue: as the planet warms so do the oceans, changing marine biology and ocean circulation, which affects CO2 uptake. In addition, oxygen (O2) outgasses from the ocean as it warms, leading to expansion of oxygen ‘deserts’, which are detrimental to fish stocks. The oceans are also a source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas much more potent than CO2.
The net CO2 flux from the Atlantic Ocean varies significantly with latitude, with uptake in the north and outgassing in the tropics. Our group has been collecting atmospheric datasets over the Atlantic from the Cap San Lorenzo container ship travelling between Germany and Argentina since 2015 (O2 and CO2) and 2019 (CH4). In this studentship, you will maintain the shipboard equipment (when the ship visits London), and carry out in-depth data analyses. Your work will include a strong atmospheric transport modelling component – working with computer models that simulate atmospheric circulation and combining these simulations with our atmospheric datasets to determine fluxes of CO2, O2 and CH4 between the ocean and atmosphere. Your work will thus shed important insight into the Atlantic Ocean carbon sink, ocean methane sources and ocean deoxygenation.
You will join UEA’s ‘CRAM Group’ of atmospheric measurement experts, and benefit from our partner, Professor Paul Palmer (University of Edinburgh), a world-leading atmospheric transport modelling expert. By the end of the PhD you will have acquired skills and expertise in atmospheric measurement and modelling, leaving you well-placed to develop your career either in academia or industry. Exciting training opportunities exist, including summer schools on atmospheric sciences and transport modelling workshops.
You should have a numerical skills, maths or computer science-based background. Environmental Sciences and carbon cycle knowledge is desirable, but not required – we have excellent classes for you to acquire such knowledge. A strong interest in the environment and climate change is essential. Excellent writing skills are also required.