Professor Carol Robinson, UEA – School of Environmental Sciences
Dr Natalie Hicks, University of Essex – School of Life Sciences
Dr Tiziana Luisetti, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
Coastal vegetated ecosystems such as salt marshes have received much attention for their contribution to climate change mitigation (1,2). In particular, the high rates of organic carbon sequestered by these ‘Blue Carbon’ ecosystems has been highlighted, leading to an increased interest in their restoration and potential inclusion in carbon credit schemes (3).
However, there are still knowledge gaps in our understanding of the biogeochemistry of these ecosystems. While we have a good understanding of the sequestration of organic carbon (OC) in the soil, there is a lack of knowledge of greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes (i.e. release of CO2 and CH4) (4) and their seasonal drivers. Furthermore, the role which inorganic Carbon (IC) plays in their overall carbon budget is largely unknown (5). Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) production by calcifying organisms (e.g. bivalves) is a source of CO2 and increases ocean acidification, while CaCO3 dissolution creates a CO2 sink. Furthermore, the potential application of biogeochemical understanding in carbon crediting schemes calls for an interdisciplinary approach linking biogeochemical and economic research.
You will combine methods from the fields of biogeochemistry and environmental economics. Data collection in the field will contrast natural and restored marshes over seasonal cycles. You will quantify GHG fluxes using a LI-COR Trace Gas Analyzer. OC and IC will be quantified in sediments using an elemental analyser, and in water using state-of-the-art core carbonate chemistry equipment. In an interdisciplinary approach you will review the biophysical data requirements for a viable carbon credit scheme to be implemented within well-known economic and governance frameworks and models.
Your training will include field sampling, laboratory skills, and basic environmental economics. You will join the PhD cohort at UEA, attend training courses on both research and transferable skills and present your work in departmental seminars and at international conferences. This is an exciting opportunity to gain interdisciplinary training at UEA, the University of Essex and Cefas.
We are looking for a candidate with a degree in Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Earth Sciences, or courses delivering similar knowledge and skills. You should have an interest in biogeochemistry and interdisciplinary research.