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From Marine Aerosol Emissions to Global Climate Change - Environmental Sciences - NERC GW4+ DTP PhD Studentship

   College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr P Halloran  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

About the award
This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus six Research Organisation partners: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Met Office, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see http://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/

Location: Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project description:
A key natural aerosol (particulate) precursor found over the ocean is Dimethyl Sulphide (DMS). DMS is produced by biology in the surface ocean. The natural background emissions of this gas determines how ‘dirty’ our preindustrial atmosphere is, which subsequently determines how sensitive our climate system is to aerosol particles or aerosol precursors emitted by human activity, from power production to agriculture (Carslaw et al., 2013). The state-of-the-art climate model the Met Office and UK scientific community are developing for the next IPCC assessment is showing that the levels of these preindustrial emissions can have a huge impact.

Project Aims and Methods
This studentship will:
- Make novel DMS measurements in the Southern Ocean, where the pristine environment provides the best window into our preindustrial atmosphere.
- Use these and existing measurements, along with existing model results and established statistical techniques to estimate, with robust uncertainties, what preindustrial DMS emissions could have looked like.
- Perform new climate model experiments to quantify how sensitive our climate system is to this DMS emission uncertainty.
- Use this information to improve or explain the UK’s state-of-the-art climate simulations, and improve the next generation of climate projections.

We are looking for a numerically capable, but also practical student. The project will primarily involve data analysis and working with climate models, but will also contain laboratory and field elements (e.g. research cruise to the Southern Ocean). The student must be able to demonstrate the ability to work with computer code and large datasets, to communicate their science effectively, and to ask probing scientific questions.

Case Award Description
Full commitment from the Met Office to CASE support this project.
The Met Office Science Programme generally funds a visit of over 2 weeks as £835 per calendar month (this is pro-ratad for visits of less than that but visits of 2 weeks or less or reimbursed as actuals with relevant receipts submitted). As an average, the Science Programme reimburses c. £1-3k for T&S per student over the period of their studentship.

Beyond the GW4 supplied training opportunities, and the ‘informal’ training by supervisors, the student will be encouraged to attend:
- The NCAS climate modelling summer school (on which the main supervisor has taught)
- Unified Model training workshops (put on by NCAS)
- Met Office College Python, IRIS and FORTRAN and oceanography courses.

Funding Notes

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018, research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.


Carslaw KS; Lee LA; Reddington CL; Pringle KJ; Rap A; Forster PM; Mann GW; Spracklen DV; Woodhouse MT; Regayre LA; Pierce JR (2013) Large contribution of natural aerosols to uncertainty in indirect forcing, NATURE doi: 10.1038/nature12674