University of Hong Kong Featured PhD Programmes
University of Southampton Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

NERC GW4+: Atmospheric measurements and modelling to support the Montreal Protocol and international climate agreementsor


About the Project

You can find a full PDF of this project here:

Project Background
In papers published in Nature in 2018 and 2019 [1,2], our team used atmospheric data to present evidence of a major violation of the Montreal Protocol, the universally ratified treaty designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer; emissions of the potent ozone depleting substance, CFC-11, had increased since 2012, despite the global ban in 2010. Intense media coverage followed, and enforcement activities were initiated in China, where a substantial fraction of the new emissions were found to originate. Ultimately, it is hoped that these findings will prevent further delay to the recovery of the ozone layer, and the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of the whole of London. Here, we will develop global and regional atmospheric modelling tools to provide an “early warning system” for the detection of similar anomalous trends in the emissions of a wide range of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances covered by the Montreal Protocol and other international climate treaties.

Project Aims and Methods
The Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group (ACRG) is a key member of the international Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE). AGAGE measures over 50 greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances covered by the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. To infer emissions from the AGAGE data, models of atmospheric chemistry and transport are required (e.g., Figure 1). These inferred emissions are reported to the UK government, and are vital to international decision making on climate. In this project, you will:

a) create new computationally efficient open-source modelling tools to infer global greenhouse gas
emissions using observations from remote monitoring sites from AGAGE and other international
networks, allowing us to understand how global emissions are changing
b) devise an operational regional emissions estimation framework using the Met Office NAME model
and Bayesian methods to “pinpoint” major sources near measurement stations (e.g. Figure 2)
c) develop a cloud-based system for the efficient and open sharing of data, model output and code,
thus ensuring transparent and rapid access to results by interested parties

Candidate requirements
This project is an excellent opportunity to use your scientific, mathematical or computational skills to provide policy makers, scientists and the public with vital information on the emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances. You should have a degree in physical sciences, mathematics or computer science. Experience in chemistry is not required. A good foundation in mathematics is essential. Experience in scientific computing is desirable. We welcome and encourage student applications from underrepresented groups. We value a diverse research environment.

Collaborative partner
This project has been co-developed with the Met Office Hadley Centre. The Met Office supervisor will provide training on the NAME model and ensure close links to policy makers through the UK DECC network. Training and international collaboration In collaboration with the Met Office and our team of post-docs and postgrads, you will be trained in atmospheric measurements and modelling, Bayesian methods and high-performance computing. There will be the opportunity to work extensively with international AGAGE collaborators (e.g. MIT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CSIRO), with whom exchange visits can be arranged. You will have the opportunity to participate in AGAGE meetings and measurement site visits (e.g. to Mace Head, Ireland or Ragged Point, Barbados). With the Advanced Computing Research Centre, you will be trained in cloud computing techniques that have been developed through the ACRG-led Open GHG project. You will have the opportunity to participate in meetings with scientists and policy makers at national and international conferences and meetings of ACRG-led projects such as DARE-UK or the UK DECC network.

Funding Notes

Full funded studentship providing stipend (standard UKRI 21/22 rate) and fee coverage for 4 years


[1] Montzka, S. A., et al., An unexpected and persistent increase in global emissions of ozone-depleting CFC11, Nature, 557(7705), 413–417, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0106-2, 2018.
[2] Rigby, M., et al., Increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern China based on atmospheric observations,
Nature, 569(7757), 546–550, doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1193-4, 2019.

Useful links
Matt Rigby:
NERC GW4+ DTP Website:
For more information about the NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership please visit
Bristol NERC GW4+ DTP Prospectus:
How to apply to the University of Bristol:

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here

The information you submit to University of Bristol will only be used by them or their data partners to deal with your enquiry, according to their privacy notice. For more information on how we use and store your data, please read our privacy statement.

* required field

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2020
All rights reserved.