The role of Black Carbon in the Southern Ocean carbon cycle


The role of Black Carbon in the Southern Ocean carbon cycle


Project Description


Dr Clara Manno, British Antarctic Survey – Contact me

Dr Matthew Jones, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, University of East Anglia

Dr Emily Rowlands, British Antarctic Survey

Scientific background

Black Carbon (BC) is primarily produced during combustion in diesel engines, coal burning, wildfires, and residential wood burning (Coppola et al, 2022). BC contribute to climate change and also act as ‘supersorbent’ for man-made chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants POPs (Corsolini et al. 2022). Recently, BC has been raising concern owing to its influence on carbon cycling. The Southern Ocean is playing an important role in the global carbon cycle, being one of the most important carbon sinks on our planet.  In this region, zooplankton is one of the main drivers in regulating the transport of organic carbon (Manno et al, 2022). Because BC footprint in Antarctica has likely increased as human presence in the continent has risen, it is critical to understand the influence of BC in the Southern Ocean biogeochemical cycle.

Research methodology

The student will quantify the fate of BC and POPs and it export to the oceanic depths. The role of zooplankton in promoting this export will be also investigated. Archived material (sediment trap and zooplankton net samples) from time-series sites located in the Southern Ocean will provide an existing sample set for new state of the art analysis. Results will allow us to improve our understanding of oceanic carbon export and how this can change in the future because increase in anthropogenic activities.


The student will join a multidisciplinary team within ecosystem group at BAS.  They will gain lab experience using cutting-edge methods including spectroscopy, electron microscopy and biogeochemistry element analyser.  The student will visit the University of Siena and gain experience on specific lab technique. The student will be encouraged to undertake their own fieldwork as part of a BAS long-term observation programme, to collect samples of zooplankton and settling material. If fieldwork is undertaken, this will include at-sea survival training course.

Person specification

The successful candidate will have a degree in Marine Sciences, Environmental Sciences, or a related subject. Experience of laboratory analyses is desirable.


  • 1 Manno, C. , Fielding, S. , Stowasser, G. , Murphy, E.J. , Thorpe, S.E. , Tarling, G.A. (2020) Continuous moulting by Antarctic krill drives major pulses of carbon export in the north Scotia Sea, Southern Ocean. Nature Communications, 11. 8 pp. 10.1038/s41467-020-19956-7
  • 2 Coppola, A. I., Wagner, S., Lennartz, S. T., Seidel, M., Ward, N. D., Dittmar, T., Santín, C., & Jones, M. W. (2022). The black carbon cycle and its role in the Earth system. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 3(8), 516–532., A. I., Wagner, S., Lennartz, S. T., Seidel, M., Ward, N. D., Dittmar, T., Santín, C., & Jones, M. W. (2022). The black carbon cycle and its role in the Earth system. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 3(8), 516–532.
  • 3 Corsolini, Simonetta, and Nicoletta Ademollo. "POPs in Antarctic ecosystems: is climate change affecting their temporal trends?." Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 24.10 (2022): 1631-1642.
  • 4 Manno, C. , Stowasser, G. , Fielding, S. , Apeland, B., Tarling, G.A. . (2022) Deep carbon export peaks are driven by different biological pathways during the extended Scotia Sea (Southern Ocean) bloom. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 205. 9 pp. 10.1016/j.dsr2.2022.105183
  • 5 Pyrogenic carbon decomposition critical to resolving fire’s role in the Earth system Bowring, S. P. K., Jones, M. W., Ciais, P., Guenet, B. & Abiven, S., 10 Feb 2022, In: Nature Geoscience. 15, 2, p. 135-142 8 p.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2024. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 10th January 2024.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£18,622 p.a. for 2023/24) and research funding. International applicants are eligible for fully-funded ARIES studentships including fees. Please note however that ARIES funding does not cover additional costs associated with relocation to, and living in, the UK. We expect to award between 4 and 6 studentships to international candidates in 2024.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences, on top of all Research Costs associated with the project. 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.
  • 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 non-academic experience, and our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past 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 follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or click the 'apply now' link.
  • ARIES is required by our funders to collect Equality and Diversity Information from all of our applicants. The information you provide will be used solely for monitoring and statistical purposes; it will remain confidential, and will be stored on the UEA sharepoint server. Data will not be shared with those involved in making decisions on the award of Studentships, and will have no influence on the success of your application. It will only be shared outside of this group in an anonymised and aggregated form. You will be ask to complete the form by the University to which you apply.
  • ARIES funding is subject to UKRI terms and conditions. Postgraduate Researchers are expected to live within reasonable distance of their host organisation for the duration of their studentship. See for more information

Applications open

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