Dr Penelope Pickers (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
Professor Paul Palmer (School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh)
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.
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.