Funded Opportunity: Greenhouse Gases in River Catchments to Coastal Seas


Funded Opportunity: Greenhouse Gases in River Catchments to Coastal Seas


Project Description


Dr Andy Rees (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) contact me

Professor Jan Kaiser (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)

Dr Vassilis Kitidis (Plymouth Marine Laboratory)

Project Background

Approximately 40 % of methane (CH4) and 60 % of nitrous oxide (N2O) come from natural sources which include soils, rivers, estuaries and oceans. Both are potent greenhouse gases, which also affect stratospheric ozone depletion (N2O) and the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere (CH4). Despite the importance of these two gases the understanding and quantification of sources and sinks and the transport from river catchments to coastal waters is poorly constrained.

Research Methodology

This project is joint between Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Environmental Sciences at UEA and the CASE partner, SERCON Ltd. The majority of your time will be at PML with easy access to the River Tamar catchment and coastal waters of the English channel. You will use state of the art instrumentation to determine gas concentrations and the stable isotopic signatures of N2O (15N/14N, 18O/16O) and CH4 (13C/12C). A vision to drive the research direction and a sense of adventure are both required to deliver a programme, which will study streams and rivers, estuaries and coastal waters using small boats and larger research vessels. You will perform high precision analyses and will develop methodology to improve our understanding of the complex biological, chemical and physical transformations taking place.


You will receive specialist training in the measurement of stable isotopes of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon using continuous flow stable isotope mass spectrometry and in the use of gas chromatography and cavity ring down spectroscopy to determine gas concentrations. This will be coupled to generic training in the biogeochemistry of riverine, estuarine and coastal systems. You will be given training in professional skills, including attendance at an international summer school and an international conference.

This studentship will be based at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and registered at the University of East Anglia.

Person Specification

We seek an enthusiastic, self-motivated candidate, with a strong aptitude for the use of analytical instrumentation. Fieldwork is central to the delivery of this studentship and you will be expected to work on land and boat-based expeditions for which you will need to take sea survival training and obtain certification of medical wellbeing. You will have at degree in chemistry, physics, oceanography or a suitable branch of environmental sciences.


  • 1. Grefe, I. and Kaiser, J. (2014) Equilibrator-based measurements of dissolved nitrous oxide in the surface ocean using an integrated cavity output laser absorption spectrometer. Ocean Science, 10 (3). pp. 501-512. ISSN 1812-0784.
  • 2. Borges A.V. et al. 2017. Effects of agricultural land use on fluvial carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide concentrations in a large European river, the Meuse (Belgium). Science of The Total Environment 610–611, 342–355, DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.047.
  • 3. Yang, M. X., T. G. Bell, I. J. Brown, J. R. Fishwick, V. Kitidis, P. D. Nightingale, A. P. Rees, and T. J. Smyth (2019), Insights from year-long measurements of air-water CH4 and CO2 exchange in a coastal environment, Biogeosciences, 16(5), 961-978.
  • 4. Law C.S., Rees A.P. and Owens N.J.P. 1992. Nitrous oxide: estuarine sources and atmospheric flux. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science. 35. 301-314.
  • 5. Rees, A. P., I. J. Brown, D. R. Clark, and R. Torres (2011). The Lagrangian progression of nitrous oxide within filaments formed in the Mauritanian upwelling, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L21606, doi:10.1029/2011GL049322.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2021. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 12th January 2021.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£15,285 p.a. for 2020-21) and research funding. For the first time in 2021/22 international applicants (EU and non-EU) will be eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. Please note ARIES funding does not cover visa costs (including immigration health surcharge) or other additional costs associated with relocation to the UK.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences. 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 in the subject area.
  • 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 significant relevant non-academic 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 click on the “Apply now” link below.

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