Dr Dorothee Bakker, University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Science
Dr Matt Jones, University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Science and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
The 2020s are critical years for curbing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel use to slow the pace of climate change. Successful implementation of the Paris agreement relies on countries’ emissions being accurately known and readily available, but our ability to evaluate fossil fuel CO2 (ffCO2) emissions is currently limited (1).
‘Bottom-up’ emissions estimates, based on inventory-style accounting and mobile tracking data, can differ significantly from each other at policy-relevant scales, while ‘top-down’ estimates, based on atmospheric measurements and modelling, have been hampered by large natural fluxes of CO2 between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere (2).
In this PhD studentship, you will quantify ffCO2 in near-real time using a novel ‘top-down’ approach, based on synchronous changes in atmospheric CO2 and oxygen (O2) measurements. Using new data products of fossil fuel O2 and CO2 emission ratios and new measurements from the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory (https://weybourne.uea.ac.uk/) and the Heathfield Tall Tower (UK), you will:
– Disentangle atmospheric signals into anthropogenic and natural processes (2) to quantify ffCO2;
– Investigate O2 and CO2 fossil fuel emissions ratios at sub-country scales for the UK (3);
– Work towards near real-time top-down ffCO2 emissions reporting for the UK;
– Use your new ffCO2 knowledge to re-evaluate global land and ocean carbon sink partitioning and investigate global carbon budget imbalances (4, 5).
We will provide extensive 1-2-1 training in:
– High-precision atmospheric O2 and CO2 measurements;
– Programming (e.g., R, Python), to conduct advanced atmospheric time-series analyses and machine learning;
– Skills for presenting research at scientific conferences and writing peer-reviewed papers.
An optional 3-6 month stay in Wellington, New Zealand, working with state-of-the-art CarbonWatch-NZ data (https://niwa.co.nz/climate/research-projects/carbon-watch-nz), and attendance at summer schools, such as the National Centre for Atmospheric Science summer school (https://ncas.ac.uk/study-with-us/atmospheric-measurement-summer-school/), will provide additional research, training, and networking opportunities.
We seek an enthusiastic team player with strong scientific interests, self-motivation and numerical skills. You will have at least a 2.1 honours BSc degree in environmental sciences, physics, chemistry, natural sciences, engineering or equivalent, and a strong interest in the carbon cycle and climate change.