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Marine emissions and uptake of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide

   School of Environmental Sciences

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  Prof Jan Kaiser, Dr D Bakker  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Every year, the world's oceans take up roughly one quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by human activity, a process of eminent importance for our climate. However, the oceans not only remove CO2, but also produce other climatically active gases, including methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). In the past, these gases could only be measured with dedicated equipment that could only measure a single gas at a time. However, in the last few years, multi-parameter sensors for ultra-sensitive measurements of trace gases have become available. We have acquired three of these so-called cavity ring-down spectrometers, which combine high precision with stability. At the start, the project will focus on laboratory testing and validation of one or more of these sensors for what will be the first deployment of its kind on shipboard platforms. Measurements of surface ocean gas concentrations will initially involve research ships, with the ultimate goal being autonomous operation on commercial vessels such as container ships and ferries. The wide coverage and rich data return that will become possible could pave the way for several new scientific opportunities including: - Quantification of the subtropical North Atlantic CO2 sink - Quantification of the oceanic N2O source - Solving the mystery about CH4 production in the surface ocean There are ample other possible scientific directions and we encourage prospective candidates to suggest their own ideas. In collaboration with our co-workers, it may be possible to complement the experimental work with satellite data and/or marine biogeochemical models. You will be part of a vibrant research team with a wide range of expertise of oceanic and atmospheric trace gas measurements, instrument development and data integration. Participation in national and international conferences is strongly encouraged.

Funding Notes

Funding may be available for UK/EU students. If funding is awarded for this project it will cover tuition fees and stipend for UK students. EU students may be eligible for full funding, or tuition fees only, depending on the funding source. International students will not be eligible for this funding however they are still welcome to apply for this project but would have to find alternative funding.


Ref1: Bange H. W. (2006) New Directions: The importance of oceanic nitrous oxide emissions, Atmos. Environ. 40, 198-199
Ref2: Forster G., Upstill-Goddard, R. C., Gist, N., Robinson, C., Uher, G. and Woodward, E. M. S. (2009) Nitrous oxide and methane in the Atlantic Ocean between 50ºN and 52ºS: Latitudinal distribution and sea-to-air flux, Deep-Sea Res. II 56, 964-976
Ref3: Karl D. M., Beversdorf, L., Bjorkman, K. M., Church, M. J., Martinez, A. and Delong, E. F. (2008) Aerobic production of methane in the sea, Nature Geosci. 1, 473-478
Ref4: Rhee T. S., Kettle, A. J. and Andreae, M. O (2009) Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from the ocean: A reassessment using basin-wide observations in the Atlantic, J. Geophys. Res. 114, D12304, doi:10.1029/2008JD011662
Ref5: Schuster, U. and Watson, A. J. (2007) A variable and decreasing sink for atmospheric CO2 in the North Atlantic. J. Geophys. Res. 112, C11006, doi: 10.1029/2006JC00394
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