Origin and drivers of the Global Carbon Budget imbalance


Origin and drivers of the Global Carbon Budget imbalance


Project Description

Prof Corinne Le Quéré (UEA Environmental Sciences)

Dr Andrew Manning (UEA)

Scientific background

Over half of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere by human activities is absorbed by the natural carbon ‘sinks’ on land and in the ocean, leaving a fraction of the emissions in the atmosphere. Yet there is a large ‘carbon budget imbalance’ between the known emissions of CO2, and their estimated partitioning among the atmosphere, land and ocean sinks. Resolving the carbon budget imbalance is the frontier in carbon cycle research.

Research methodology

This PhD project aims to identify the origins of the global carbon budget imbalance and its drivers. The work will consist of the analysis of data and model simulations to identify the geographic origin and seasonal characteristics of the imbalance, and the correspondence with climatic variability (e.g. temperature, wind, and rainfall). The PhD holder will use new related data. A specific emphasis will be on reducing the carbon imbalance originating from the ocean, through the use of a new high-resolution carbon cycle model developed at UEA.


The PhD researcher will be trained in the analysis of large datasets of climate model archives and climate-related data, using standard software programmes in climate sciences (e.g. ferret, matlab, python). The PhD researcher will also have the opportunity to develop and use their own ocean carbon cycle model, and to conduct their own simulations.

The successful candidate will have opportunities to interact with an international group of experts and with policymakers in the climate change area, particularly through the Global Carbon Project and associated activities. The project will be part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and have a component of outreach beyond academic.

Person specification

This project is particularly suitable for candidates with first degrees in any sciences and an interest in the environment and climate change (including physics, computer sciences, mathematics, biology and earth and environmental sciences). Enthusiastic candidates with facility with computer-based analysis and interest in policy-relevant research are encouraged to apply


  • Le Quéré, Corinne, Robbie M. Andrew, Pierre Friedlingstein, Stephen Sitch, Julia Pongratz, Andrew C. Manning, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Glen P. Peters, Josep G. Canadell, Robert B. Jackson, Thomas A. Boden, Pieter P. Tans, Oliver D. Andrews, Vivek Arora, Dorothee C. E. Bakker, Leticia Barbero, Meike Becker, Richard A. Betts, Laurent Bopp, Frédéric Chevallier, Louise P. Chini, Philippe Ciais, Cathy Cosca, Jessica Cross, Kim Currie, Thomas Gasser, Ian Harris, Judith Hauck, Vanessa Haverd, Richard A. Houghton, Christopher W. Hunt, George Hurtt, Tatiana Ilyina, Atul K. Jain, Etsushi Kato, Markus Kautz, Ralph F. Keeling, Kees Klein Goldewijk, Arne Körtzinger, Peter Landschützer, Nathalie Lefèvre, Andrew Lenton, Sebastian Lienert, Ivan Lima, Danica Lombardozzi, Nicolas Metzl, Frank Millero, Pedro M. S. Monteiro, David R. Munro, Julia E. M. S. Nabel, Shin-ichiro Nakaoka, Yukihiro Nojiri, X. Antoni Padin, Benjamin Pfeil, Denis Pierrot, Benjamin Poulter, Gregor Rehder, Janet Reimer, Christian Rödenbeck, Jörg Schwinger, Roland Séférian, Ingunn Skjelvan, Benjamin D. Stocker, Hanqin Tian, Bronte Tilbrook, Francesco N. Tubiello, Ingrid T. van der Laan-Luijkx, Guido R. van der Werf, Steven M. A. C. van Heuven, Nicolas Viovy, Nicolas Vuichard, Anthony P. Walker, Andrew J. Watson, Andrew J. Wiltshire, Sönke Zaehle, Dan Zhu: Global Carbon Budget 2017 (2018), Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 405-499. https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-1-2018
  • Peters, G. P., Le Quéré, C., Andrew, R. M., Canadell, J. G., Friedlingstein, P., Ilyina, T., Jackson, R. B., Joos, F., Korsbakken, J. I., McKinley, G. A., Sitch, S., and Tans, P.: Towards real-time verification of CO2 emissions, Nature Climate Change, 7, 848-850, 2017.
  • Shilong Piao, Mengtian Huang, Zhuo Liu, Xuhui Wang, Philippe Ciais, Josep G. Canadell, Kai Wang, Ana Bastos, Pierre Friedlingstein, Richard A. Houghton, Corinne Le Quéré, Yongwen Liu, Ranga B. Myneni, Shushi Peng, Julia Pongratz, Stephen Sitch, Tao Yan, Yilong Wang, Zaichun Zhu, Donghai Wu and Tao Wang (2018). Lower land-use emissions responsible for increased net land carbon sink during the slow warming period. Nature Geoscience, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0204-7 .
  • Li, W., P. Ciais, Y. Wang, S. Peng, G. Broquet, A.P. Ballantyne, J.G. Canadell, L.A. Cooper, P. Friedlingstein, C. Le Quéré, R.B. Myneni, G. Peters, S. Piao, and J. Pongratz (2015). Reducing uncertainties in decadal variability of the global carbon budget with multiple data sets. PNAS, 113, 13104-13108.
  • Le Quéré, C., E. T. Buitenhuis, R. Moriarty, S. Alvain, O. Aumont, L. Bopp, S. Chollet, C. Enright, D. J. Franklin, R. J. Geider, S. P. Harrison, A. Hirst, S. Larsen, L. Legendre, T. Platt, I. C. Prentice, R. B. Rivkin, S. Sathyendranath, N. Stephens, M. Vogt, S. Sailley, and S. M. Vallina (2016). Role of zooplankton dynamics for Southern Ocean biomass and global biogeochemical cycles. Biogeosciences, 13, 4111-4133.

Application open

Apply Now