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ONE Planet DTP - The importance of microorganisms in cloud formation (though ice nucleation) and its influence on albedo in the Arctic (Ref: OP202070)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Bacteria and other primary biological aerosol particles are now known to enhance cloud formation through acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) or through the expression of ice nucleation proteins in their cell membranes, hence acting as ice nucleating particles (INP). Clouds play an important role in the global climate system (IPCC, 2013). Depending on their optical properties, either their reflection of shortwave solar radiation dominates (hence exerting a cooling effect) or reflection of terrestrial longwave radiation dominates (resulting in a warming effect). The net radiative effect of a cloud is a function of its altitude, size, thickness, and the number liquid droplets and ice crystals (Shupe and Intrieri, 2004. Journal of Climate 17: 616-628). Furthermore, the brightness (albedo) of the underlying ground is critical. This is particularly important in the Arctic, where snow and sea ice feature a very high albedo and clouds act as a ‘blanket’ increasing the temperature at the surface. This effect is most critical in the transition from winter to spring time, when the Arctic becomes more cloudy and the net cloud radiative effect results in warming, moving the sea ice and snow closer to the melting temperature (Stramler et al., 2011. Journal of Climate 24: 1747-1762). In this project, we will investigate the distribution and source of INP in the Arctic today, and how they might change and influence Arctic clouds in the future. We will install samplers at observatories and remote locations around Svalbard that represent marine and terrestrial aerosol sources. With these samples, ice nucleation studies can be conducted in parallel with microscopy and microbiological investigations that attempt to close the link between the presence of biological particles and INP concentrations. This project will link to MicroArctic (Horizon 2020), the Greenland Circumnavigation Expedition (GLACE) and the Svalbard Integrated arctic Earth Observation System (SIOS). The PhD student will gain experience of microbial ecology, Arctic fieldwork, flux measurements, modelling and laboratory based simulations.
Essential: Knowledge/experience of experimental microbiology and/or chemistry
Desirable: Knowledge/experience of modelling
For more information, please contact

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.

Funding Notes

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).

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