Measurement and Modelling of Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases: Tools for Investigating the Atlantic Ocean Carbon Sink


Measurement and Modelling of Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases: Tools for Investigating the Atlantic Ocean Carbon Sink


Project Description


Professor Andrew Manning (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia) contact me

Dr Penelope Pickers (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)

Professor Paul Palmer (School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh)

Project Background

The global ocean is the most important long-term carbon dioxide (CO2) sink on Earth, substantially reducing climate change by absorbing vast amounts of fossil fuel CO2 emissions every year. But for how long? As the planet warms so do the oceans, leading to profound changes in marine biology and ocean circulation, both of which affect the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2. Another consequence of ocean warming is the outgassing of oxygen (O2), expanding oxygen ‘deserts’ that are detrimental to fish stocks and impact food security. The oceans are also a source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than CO2.

The 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 Ocean from a container ship travelling between Germany and Argentina since 2015 (O2 and CO2) and 2019 (CH4). In this studentship, you will maintain the automated shipboard equipment (in 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 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 in academia or industry. Exciting training opportunities exist, including summer schools on atmospheric sciences and transport modelling.

Person Specification

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.


  • 1. Pickers, P. A., Manning, A. C., Sturges, W. T., Le Quéré, C., Mikaloff Fletcher, S. E., Wilson, P. A., and Etchells, A. J.: In situ measurements of atmospheric O2 and CO2 reveal an unexpected O2 signal over the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, doi:10.1002/2017GB005631, 2017.
  • 2. Nevison, C. D., Manizza, M., Keeling, R. F., Stephens, B. B., Bent, J. D., Dunne, J., Ilyina, T., Long, M., Resplandy, L., Tjiputra, J., and Yukimoto, S.: Evaluating CMIP5 ocean biogeochemistry and Southern Ocean carbon uptake using atmospheric potential oxygen: Present-day performance and future projection, Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 2077-2085, doi:10.1002/2015gl067584, 2016.
  • 3. Keeling, R. F., and A. C. Manning, 5.15 - Studies of Recent Changes in Atmospheric O2 Content, in Treatise on Geochemistry (Second Edition), edited by Holland, H. D., and K. K. Turekian, pp. 385-404; doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-095975-7.00420-4, Elsevier, Oxford,, 2014.
  • 4. Palmer, P. I., L. Feng, D. Baker, F. Chevallier, H. Boesch, P. Somkuti: Net carbon emissions from African land biosphere dominate pan-tropical atmospheric CO2 signal", Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-11097-w, 2019.
  • Lowry, D., Fisher, R. E., Lanoisellé, M. E., Nisbet, E. G., Dlugokencky, E. J., Manning, A. C., Continuous greenhouse gas monitoring on South Atlantic Islands, ResearchGate article,

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2021. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 12th January 2021.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£15,285 p.a. for 2020-21) and research funding. For the first time in 2021/22 international applicants (EU and non-EU) will be eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. Please note ARIES funding does not cover visa costs (including immigration health surcharge) or other additional costs associated with relocation to the UK.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences. 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 in the subject area.
  • 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 significant relevant non-academic 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 click on the “Apply now” link below.

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