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Are Rockets the Next Air Pollution Frontier? (CENTA2-PHYS2-MARA1)


Project Description

Rockets are frequently launched into space and it’s getting cheaper and easier to do so. Even the UK has ambitious plans to host its own horizontal and vertical launch sites. Rocket launches are at very high temperatures and the fuel includes a mix of chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, can lead to the formation of toxic air pollutants and potent greenhouse gases. Nobody really knows the true global impact of rocket launches on air quality, climate and the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

In this project, the student will gather existing data on rocket launches (timing, location, type of fuel) from the Space Race starting in 1957 to the end of 2020 and also conduct a literature search to estimate the type and magnitude of air pollutants released during takeoff and, in the case of return rockets, landing. This information will be used to build an inventory of emissions that will then be implemented in the widely used global 3D GEOS-Chem model (http://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/geos/). Results from the model will be used to determine the contribution of rocket launches to changes in air quality, climate, and the chemical composition of the atmosphere today and whether increased launches in the future are cause for concern.

No prior experience in modelling is required. The student will be trained in the necessary computational skills by the University of Leicester Research Computing staff and by the lead supervisor who has over 10 years’ computer modelling experience. The student will become part of the dynamic and inclusive international GEOS-Chem User Community and have the opportunity to travel to local and international conferences and science meetings to present results from this work.

Further Reading:

Ross, M. N., and Toohey, D. W. (2019) The Coming Surge of Rocket Emissions, EOS, 100, doi:10.1029/2019EO133493. Published on 24 September 2019.

Chronology of Space Launches: https://space.skyrocket.de/directories/chronology.htm.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/skills/postgrad/

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at http://www2.le.ac.uk/study/research/funding/centa/how-to-apply-for-a-centa-project and use the Physics Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.

References

Ross, M. N., and Toohey, D. W. (2019) The Coming Surge of Rocket Emissions, EOS, 100, doi:10.1029/2019EO133493. Published on 24 September 2019.

Chronology of Space Launches: https://space.skyrocket.de/directories/chronology.htm.

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