Effects of zooplankton migrations on sinking organic carbon in a changing climate (LEQUEREC_U24SCT)

   School of Environmental Sciences

This project is no longer listed on FindAPhD.com and may not be available.

Click here to search FindAPhD.com for PhD studentship opportunities
  Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Dr Marie-Fanny Racault  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Marine ecosystems play a key role in regulating the Earth's climate. Their activities generate a flux of carbon between the surface and the deep ocean that helps lower the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in the long-term. Most organic material in the ocean ends up being grazed by zooplankton. The depth at which zooplankton excrete their faecal pellets is fundamental for regulating the return time of this carbon to the surface, where it can exchange again with the atmosphere (Boyd et al. 2019). Recent technological advances in imaging have revolutionised our understanding of the vertical structure of organic particles in the ocean (Lombard et al. 2019). This new knowledge now needs to be incorporated in computer models that represent the carbon cycle, to test the extent to which new ecosystem processes alter our understanding of the flux of carbon in the ocean.

This PhD project aims to examine the role of zooplankton vertical migration for the oceanic carbon cycle, and explore how it may change in the future under a warming climate. The PhD candidate will introduce zooplankton vertical migration in a global ocean ecosystem model that currently represents five types of zooplankton (Wright et al. 2021; Buitenhuis et al. 2019; Le Quéré et al. 2016), and examine the effect of the daily and seasonal vertical migrations by different types of zooplankton. The work will be guided by information derived from images collected with zooscan and with Underwater Video Profiler (UVP) instruments (Lombard et al. 2019). Model developments will use machine-learning techniques to parameterise and evaluate the new processes.

The PhD candidate will be part of a dynamic research group and contribute to the development of a cutting-edge model of the ocean carbon cycle used for understanding the Earth System. There will be opportunities to interact with an international group of experts, attend Greenocean workshops, and present at international conferences.

Start date

June 2024

Entry requirements

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1 (Hons).  

This project is particularly suited for candidates with first degrees in any sciences (Biological Sciences, Computational Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics) and an interest in marine ecosystems and climate change (including physics, computer sciences, mathematics, biology and earth and environmental sciences). Enthusiastic individuals with experience in computer-based analysis are encouraged to apply.

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Computer Science (8) Environmental Sciences (13) Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded for four years by Schmidt Futures. Applications are welcomed from UK applicants eligible for home tuition fees only. Funding comprises home tuition fees and an annual stipend of £18,622 (for a maximum of 48 months).


i) Wright, R. M., Le Quéré, C., Buitenhuis, E., Pitois, S. & Gibbons, M. J., (2021). Role of jellyfish in the plankton ecosystem revealed using a global ocean biogeochemical model. Biogeosciences. 18, 4, 1291-1320.
ii) Buitenhuis, E.T., C. Le Quéré, N. Bednaršek, and R. Schiebel (2019). Large Contribution of Pteropods to Shallow CaCO3 Export. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 33, 458-468.
iii) Le Quéré, C., E. T. Buitenhuis, R. Moriarty, S. Alvain, O. Aumont, L. Bopp, S. Chollet, C. Enright, D. J. Franklin, R. J. Geider, S. P. Harrison, A. Hirst, S. Larsen, L. Legendre, T. Platt, I. C. Prentice, R. B. Rivkin, S. Sathyendranath, N. Stephens, M. Vogt, S. Sailley, and S. M. Vallina (2016). Role of zooplankton dynamics for Southern Ocean biomass and global biogeochemical cycles. Biogeosciences, 13, 4111-4133.
iv) Boyd, P., H. Claustre, M. Levy, D. A. Siegel, and T. Weber (2019). Multi-faceted particle pumps drive carbon sequestration in the ocean. Nature, 568, 327-335.
v) Lombard F, Boss E, Waite AM, Vogt M, Uitz J, Stemmann L, Sosik HM, Schulz J, Romagnan J-B, Picheral M, Pearlman J, Ohman MD, Niehoff B, Möller KO, Miloslavich P, Lara-Lpez A, Kudela R, Lopes RM, Kiko R, Karp-Boss L, Jaffe JS, Iversen MH, Irisson J-O, Fennel K, Hauss H, Guidi L, Gorsky G, Giering SLC, Gaube P, Gallager S, Dubelaar G, Cowen RK, Carlotti F, Briseño-Avena C, Berline L, Benoit-Bird K, Bax N, Batten S, Ayata SD, Artigas LF, Appeltans W (2019) Globally Consistent Quantitative Observations of Planktonic Ecosystems. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 196.

Where will I study?