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NERC GW4 DTP Projects 2020: (Changing Planet) Estimating greenhouse gas emissions using the next generation of satellite observations

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Through the work in Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group (ACRG) and the Met Office, the UK is world-leading in the estimation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using atmospheric data. The next frontier in this field is the use of satellite data to learn new insights about the global carbon cycle and atmospheric methane budget. The recent launch of space-based instruments such as TROPOMI on ESA’s Sentinel 5-Precursor, or NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) are providing global carbon dioxide and methane data at a resolution orders of magnitude higher than previous systems. However, our current tools, which have been developed primarily for national in situ monitoring infrastructure (such as that in the ‘Detection and Attribution of Regional GHG emissions in the UK’ project), are ill-suited for estimating GHG fluxes from such enormous datasets. In this studentship, you will develop novel approaches for the estimation of GHG flux at urban through global scales to help us tackle some of the most pressing questions regarding the changing concentration of atmospheric GHGs. Our team has shown that GHG emissions can be inferred at national scales from the previous generation of satellite observations, based on simulations of atmospheric gas transport using the Met Office NAME model and Bayesian methods (e.g. Ganesan, et al., 2017). However, the extension of current approaches to the new generation of satellite data are challenging due to the size of datasets involved. Here, we propose to use novel data science approaches to explore how to infer GHG fluxes from large atmospheric concentration datasets and use this information to tackle a range of pressing challenges, such as: a) what is driving the current rapid growth in atmospheric methane? b) how is the terrestrial carbon sink changing with time? c) are national GHG emissions reports reliable? We have a wide range of ongoing GHG science projects using atmospheric data that span urban to global scales. The student will have flexibility to align their research with any of these projects, if desired.

Funding Notes

You should have a degree in physical sciences, mathematics or computer science and a strong desire to apply cutting edge computational and mathematical principles to environmental science. Experience in chemistry is not required, but a good foundation in mathematics is essential.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 46.45

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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