ACCE DTP fully funded studentship - Quantifying air quality and indirect climate feedbacks of land-based greenhouse gas removal strategies

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr M Val Martin, Prof D J Beerling, Dr J Drewer  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The 2021 IPCC report recognises urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and large-scale CO2 removal (CDR) are urgently required to mitigate climate change. Land-based CDR strategies include, for example, afforestation/reforestation (AR) and enhanced rock weathering (ERW), but widespread implementation of these approaches will have consequences for air quality, and indirect climate feedbacks that have so far been overlooked.

 An exciting feature observed from co-deployment of ERW within a pioneering large-scale (25,000 trees) AR field trial in Wales ( is that ERW affects soil nitrogen cycling ( and increases leaf nitrogen content of deciduous and evergreen trees, leading to potential changes in biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted by the trees. This in turn affects the production of other atmospheric pollutants, e.g. ozone and secondary organic aerosols, which are harmful to human and crop health, and climate.

Therefore, research is urgently required to address potential adverse climate consequences resulting from large-scale ERW co-deployment with AR.

Objectives. The project will investigate these interactions through a combination of measurements in field trials and numerical modelling. In phase1, the student will undertake a suite of BVOCs measurements at the field site over 24 months using state of the art GC-MS with thermal desorption. In phase2, the student will use the measurements with The Model of Emissions of Gases and Aerosols from Nature (MEGAN) embedded in an Earth System Model to simulate possible effects to estimate the consequences of ERW/AR co-deployment in the UK and globally.

Further details. The post suits a highly motivated student with interests in climate change mitigation, ecosystem processes and atmosphere-biosphere-climate interactions. They will gain excellent training in a range of cutting-edge transferrable skills in measuring and modelling atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases and forest management in the context of climate change issues. The successful candidate will be embedded within the vibrant research groups of LC3M (Sheffield) and UKCEH (Edinburgh), with outstanding facilities and expertise to support the student, and will also work closely with The Carbon Community, a science-based charity dedicated to creating forests and accelerating carbon removal. Informal enquires are welcome to Drs Val-Martin ([Email Address Removed]) and Drewer ([Email Address Removed])

This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment. ACCE is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York, CEH, and NHM, for more information about ACCE and how to apply please visit the website:

The NERC ACCE DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills. "

How to apply:

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. The proforma and more information on the ACCE application process can be found here:

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the w/c 21st February 2022.


Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3.5 years.
The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,609 for 2021/22 starts)
UK tuition fees (£4,500 for 2021/22)
Research support and training grant (RTSG)
We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.
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