Fully Funded Studentship: Shelf seas as sources and sinks of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane (KAISER_U14EE)

Deadline: 6th January 2014.

Supervisor: Dr Jan Kaiser [email protected]

The Project:

Shelf seas have unique physical circulation patterns and are characterised by high biogeochemical fluxes. Biological production removes the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and the fixed carbon can be exported to the adjacent deep ocean, a process known as the shelf-sea carbon pump. However, shelves do not only remove CO2, but also produce other climatically active gases, including methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). These gases counteract the climate benefits of the shelf-sea carbon pump. However, magnitude and variability of oceanic emissions of these gases are highly uncertain. It is therefore very important to better constrain sources and sinks of shelf-sea greenhouse gases.

UEA has recently invested in cavity laser absorption spectroscopy analysers, which combine high precision with stability and allow the simultaneous measurement of dissolved CO2, N2O and CH4 using shipboard equilibrators. The student will install two of these instruments on the research vessel Cefas Endeavour, which operates mainly in UK shelf waters, and gather a 2-year time series of greenhouse gas concentrations. Initially, the project will focus on automation and calibration of the existing system. The student will accompany the system on one or two cruises, but eventually it will function autonomously. The primary aim of the project is to improve estimates of oceanic CH4 and N2O sources, which have been suggested to be a factor of two too low; in the case of N2O presumably due to underestimated shelf-sea emissions. N2O supersaturations in summer are a factor of two higher for the central North Sea compared to previous studies. Therefore, another important aim is to investigate the seasonality in dissolved greenhouse gases. CO2 in shelf seas acts largely as a tracer of biological production and together with ancillary data will help understand the physical and biogeochemical processes associated with greenhouse gas hotspots and to understand the underlying biogeochemical processes.

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This project will be conducted as a CASE studentship in collaboration with Cefas. Core training will comprise handling of gases, working with analytical instruments, measurement automation, calibration of oceanic and atmospheric trace gas measurements, analysis of large datasets and calculation of air-sea fluxes. Conference participation is strongly encouraged and publication of two or three papers in high-impact journals is expected. Students participate in interdisciplinary teamwork at sea, and have the opportunity to engage with environmental social scientists within ENV and policy-related work at Cefas.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the newly-created ENV East Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration led by the University of East Anglia, with the Universities of Essex and Kent, and twenty other partners. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition. The interview dates will be 14th and 15th February 2014 at one of the three Universities listed above.

Entry Requirements:

First degree (2.1) in a relevant subject such as environmental science, geography, or related subject, and social science subjects.


Funding is available for this project. For full details visit: www.uea.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research-degrees/science/environmental-sciences.

To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: [email protected] or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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