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PhD in Geographical and Earth Sciences - GCRF Living Deltas Research Hub- Mangrove sediment carbon budgets along eroding and prograding coasts

College of Science and Engineering

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Dr A Bass , Dr T Balke No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Summary of the research program: The Living Deltas GCRF Research HUB aims to safeguard delta futures through building more resilient communities and expanding our knowledge of delta systems to enhance long-term sustainability. Delta regions in South-East and South Asia are dominated by mangrove ecosystems but land use change and altered sediment budgets are threatening mangrove health and extent. Increasing value is being attributed to mangrove systems due to their ecosystem services and considerable capacity to store carbon in mangrove sediments (‘blue carbon’). With atmospheric CO2 now approaching 410 ppm, research to understand such mangrove carbon budgets is more urgent than ever.
Current protocols for carbon stock assessments which are necessary to value, protect and trade carbon do not sufficiently take different scales of coastal change into account. For example, mangrove erosion and progradation can be rapid and localised following a storm event, or more gradual and regional as sediment flux to the delta changes with land use. Neglecting scales of coastal change harbours a risk for policy and management as carbon stocks may be more dynamic in space and time than acknowledged in current assessments. Carbon content in mangrove sediments is intrinsically linked to geomorphic processes of erosion and deposition of sediments in delta settings. The PhD candidate will explore this link between carbon budgets and coastal change to create a conceptual model of deltaic mangrove carbon across scales to inform future global policy on coastal blue carbon.

This Ph.D will address the following overarching questions:
1. At what spatial and temporal scale do we achieve a holistic net sediment / carbon balance in a deltaic mangrove system?
2. How does soil carbon differ between eroding and accreting mangrove sites.
3. What influence to mangrove plants have on carbon budgets along a successional gradient?
4. How can blue carbon policy better acknowledge spatio-temporal dynamics of mangrove carbon?

Proposed research activity: The candidate will work alongside 3 PDRAs at UoG and as part of the wider Living Deltas Hub team in mangrove systems in Vietnam (Mekong & Red River), India, and Bangladesh (Ganges-Brahmaputra). The work is largely field-based utilising sediment coring and (bio-)geomorphic change studies to generate a model of the carbon and sediment balance integrating various spatial and temporal scales. Field work will be complemented by a systematic meta-analysis of carbon budgets in deltas and estuaries worldwide.

Start date - October 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU/International applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,245 for Session 2020-21). Research and travel costs are covered by the project.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with an environmental science or geography component
• Knowledge of coastal processes and/or carbon dynamics
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