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Atmospheric measurements and modelling to support the Montreal Protocol and international climate agreements (NERC GW4+ DTP)

Project Description

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Project Background
In papers published in Nature in 2018 and 2019 [1,2], our team used atmospheric data to present evidence of a major violation of the Montreal Protocol, the universally ratified treaty designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer; emissions of the potent ozone depleting substance, CFC-11, had increased since 2012, despite the global ban in 2010. Intense media coverage followed, and enforcement activities were initiated in China, where a substantial fraction of the new emissions were found to originate. Ultimately, it is hoped that these findings will prevent further delay to the recovery of the ozone layer, and the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of the whole of London. Here, we will develop global and regional atmospheric modelling tools to provide an “early warning system” for the detection of similar anomalous trends in the emissions of a wide range of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances covered by the Montreal Protocol and other international climate treaties.

Project Aims and Methods
The Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group (ACRG) is a key member of the international Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE). AGAGE measures over 50 greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances covered by the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. To infer emissions from the AGAGE data, models of atmospheric chemistry and transport are required (e.g., Figure 1). These inferred emissions are reported to the UK government, and are vital to international decision making on climate.
In this project, you will:
a) create new computationally efficient open-source modelling tools to infer global greenhouse
gas emissions using observations from remote monitoring sites from AGAGE and other
international networks, allowing us to understand how global emissions are changing
b) devise an operational regional emissions estimation framework using the Met Office NAME
model and Bayesian methods to “pinpoint” major sources near measurement stations
c) develop a cloud-based system for the efficient and open sharing of data, model output and
code, thus ensuring transparent and rapid access to results by interested parties

Candidate Requirements
This project is an excellent opportunity to use your scientific, mathematical or computational skills to provide policy makers, scientists and the public with vital information on the emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances.
You should have a degree in physical sciences, mathematics or computer science.
Experience in chemistry is not required.
A good foundation in mathematics is essential.
Experience in scientific computing is desirable.

Collaborative Partner
This project has been co-developed with the Met Office Hadley Centre. The Met Office supervisor will provide training on the NAME model and ensure close links to policy makers through the UK DECC network.

Training and international collaboration
In collaboration with the Met Office and our team of post-docs and postgrads, you will be trained inatmospheric measurements and modelling, Bayesian methods and high-performance computing.There will be the opportunity to work extensively with international AGAGE collaborators (e.g. MIT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CSIRO), with whom exchange visits can be arranged. You will have
the opportunity to participate in AGAGE meetings and measurement site visits (e.g. to Mace Head, Ireland or Ragged Point, Barbados). With the Advanced Computing Research Centre, you will be trainedin cloud computing techniques that have been developed through the ACRG-led HUGS project. You will have the opportunity to participate in meetings with scientists and policy makers at national and international conferences and meetings of ACRG-led projects such as DARE-UK or the UK DECC network.

Funding Notes

Successful Applicants will receive a studentship for 4 years. The studentship covers fees and research costs, while also providing a ~£15,000+ tax free stipend.


[1] Montzka, S. A., et al., An unexpected and persistent increase in global emissions of ozone-depleting
CFC-11, Nature, 557(7705), 413–417, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0106-2, 2018.
[2] Rigby, M., et al., Increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern China based on atmospheric
observations, Nature, 569(7757), 546–550, doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1193-4, 2019.

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