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Deep matter – soils and their power to fight climate change

Project Description

Do you care about nature? Do you care about your health and the health of others? - Then you care about SOIL. Soils are crucial components of our world; being the basis for food production, water and nutrients. But, due to ongoing changes in climate, soils are vulnerable.

We are seeking an enthusiastic PhD student to work as part of our interdisciplinary and international team. You will be based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Bangor with registration at Bangor University. You will work outdoors across the UK collecting critical evidence of soil change. You may work in collaboration with European climate scientists in Denmark, Hungary and Spain.

Your aim will be to investigate how soils respond to climate extremes, and how this affects plant production, carbon and nutrient storage, and the water cycle. Recent research has highlighted how important the subsoil (below 0-15 cm) is for overall soil integrity. You will investigate the role of topsoil and subsoil when exposed to drought and heatwaves across the UK’s different soil types and land-uses.

You will learn environmental measurements in the field. This will include the planning and organisation of UK-wide field soil sampling to depth (1 m), the measurement of plant biomass, soil physical measurements and decomposition studies. Laboratory measurements will include soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus; you will plan and execute a laboratory process study on soil monoliths where water content is manipulated.

You will learn to work with, analyse and interpret large datasets and long-term data originating from the literature, our climate change experiments, and national monitoring programmes. At the end of the project, you will have developed a holistic understanding of soil stability under environmental change.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Physical Geography, Ecology or Natural Sciences or related areas. Be enthusiastic about outdoor working and laboratory experimentation. Interest in data analysis using R will be an advantage. A valid driver’s license is required. Some European travel is likely. Please check your eligibility for the Envision Doctoral Training Programme before you apply (

Please apply via the ENVISION portal:

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of proposed topics that are in competition for funding from the NERC Envision Doctoral Training Partnership View Website.

Full studentships (fees and stipend) are only available to UK nationals and other EU nationals that have resided in the UK for three years prior to commencing the studentship. If you are a citizen of an EU member state you will eligible for a fees-only award, and must be able to show at interview that you can support yourself for the duration of the studentship at the UKRI level.

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