The Atlantic saltmarshes of the Solway Firth represent nearly 25% of the UK total. These wetlands support internationally important biodiversity yet are highly vulnerable to coastal squeeze; eroded by the sea and reclaimed for our use inland. The organic carbon (OC) stocks held by these wetlands are poorly characterised, though evidence from other studies suggests that they could have some of the highest OC burial rates of all terrestrial environments and contain significant long-term stores of OC. At the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve in Southwest Scotland, where this project will be based, tidal erosion is causing significant loss of saltmarsh (merse), breaking down the carbon store. This challenge has important implications for the management of coastal wetlands in an era of long-term climatic change, threatened by potential rises in sea-level and increasing storm intensity.
Working with Scottish Natural Heritage, we will investigate the carbon cycle in these dynamic environments, quantifying burial rates, total stocks and atmospheric fluxes of OC in relation to a range of parameters including plant communities and soil chemistry. Photogrammetry analysis of drone-acquired aerial imagery will allow the extent of different merse environments to be estimated and an overall OC stock to be determined. Geotechnical monitoring and aerial imagery will allow an estimation of erosion rates, particularly in relation to tidal action and extreme events, though we also wish to understand the factors determining the formation of new areas of merse on the site.
The findings of the project will contribute to the understanding of how OC stored in coastal wetlands contributes to global carbon budgets.
This project would suit a candidate with practical experience in ecology and geochemistry. Some knowledge of geotechnical methods and GIS would also be advantageous.
For more information, please contact Michael Deary ([email protected]
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. OP.....) will not be considered.
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.
We have a minimum of 12 (3.5 year) PhD fully funded studentship awards available for October 2020 entry. Each award includes fees (Home / EU), an annual living allowance (for 2019/20 this is £15,009) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).