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Enhancing the soil carbon sink: towards defining and quantifying new stabilising mechanisms

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D Beerling
    Dr B Sarkar
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Limiting future climate change requires urgently decreasing CO2 emissions and developing approaches for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere. Enhanced weathering (EW) is a CDR option achieved by amending the soils of managed croplands with crushed fast-reacting silicate rocks. Both IPCC and the US National Research Council have called for research into EW as a CDR strategy but have overlooked stabilisation of soil organic C as a pathway to C capture. The current exciting project addresses this important gap in our understanding of how to enhance the soil C pool to offset fossil fuel CO2 emissions. In a series of experiments, it will investigate the dissolution and concomitant retention/release of organic C in rock-amended soils grown with a representative crop, e.g., wheat. Rates of C-capture, turnover time and mechanisms involving silicate minerals will be studied using advanced techniques, including synchrotron spectroscopy, and projected in global change scenarios.
The post would suit a motivated student interested in ‘climate-smart soil’ research, with enthusiasm for a mix of laboratory and computer-based work, and will be based in the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation ( They will gain excellent training in a range of cutting-edge transferable skills in soil science, including advanced spectroscopic and C-isotopic techniques.

Funding Notes

Fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (at least £14,553 per annum for 2018-2019), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.


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 and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date, and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield the w/c 12th February 2018.

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