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PhD Research Project

Quantifying UK anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases using atmospheric measurements of their isotopes


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School of GeoSciences
Dr P Palmer
No more applications being accepted
Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project summary

To minimize the risk of dangerous climate change associated with increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG), as part of ongoing international efforts, the 2008 Climate Change Act requires that the UK reduces its GHG emissions by at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. To support such legislation, methods must be developed to reduce uncertainty on existing national GHG emissions estimates and monitor the efficacy of emissions reduction strategies.

The NERC-funded Greenhouse gAs Uk and Global Emissions (GAUGE, 2013-2016+) project led by U. Edinburgh (http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/research/eochem/gauge.html) will quantify UK budgets of CO2, CH4, and N2O from different sectors, and to improve global GHG budgets. For the UK, we have designed an integrated and inter-calibrated network of atmospheric measurements incorporating ground-based, airborne (UK BAe-146 research aircraft), ferry-borne, balloon-borne, and space-borne sensors, including new sensor technology. We will interpret these data using computer models of the atmosphere, which describe the movement of GHGs after emission, and sophisticated statistical methods. The main outcome from GAUGE will be robust GHG emission estimates from the UK and from the world.

The successful candidate will use the GEOS-Chem chemistry transport model, which includes a detailed description of the gaseous and particulate chemistry required to address the broad science objective of this project. Isotopes of GHGs provide additional constraints on the magnitude and distribution of these gases from different sectors (e.g., fossil fuel combustion). The candidate will develop the CO2, CH4, and N2O isotope capability of the GEOS-Chem model in order to take full advantage of the isotope measurements taken over the UK and, in collaboration with international groups, over other parts of the globe. Wherever possible model development will draw on ongoing activities within the wider GEOS-Chem community, including work conducted with GAUGE, to use the latest regional emission estimates for anthropogenic, biogenic, and pyrogenic sectors. There is an enormous breadth of science that can be achieved using GHG isotope measurements available as part of this project but principally we will use them to improve emissions estimates of the anthropogenic component of GHGs.

Techniques The studentship will include the interpretation of atmospheric measurements of GHGs from a number of different platforms and using different techniques using a computer model of atmospheric chemistry and transport and statistical analysis. All models used for this project are already widely used within our group.
This project offers the candidate an excellent opportunity to work within a strong international team of researchers to test current understanding of the climate system. More broadly, the project is affiliated, through the supervisor, to the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation, and is affiliated, via GAUGE activities, to the NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Research.



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