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PhD in Geographical and Earth Sciences – The hydroecology of glacial demise


   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr K Cameron, Prof W Sloan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project will focus on modelling the ecological impact of glacial melt. Climate warming is melting glaciers at unprecedented rates, however the ecological consequences of this are largely unknown. Melting glaciers release an abundance of sediments, nutrients and microbiota alongside gigatons of meltwater each year. Preliminary studies indicate that the burial of these meltwater components in downstream sediment environments leads to methane and nitrous oxide cycling; two potent greenhouse gases. This project takes an interdisciplinary, hydroecological approach to advance our limited understanding of the relationship between glacial loss and downstream ecosystem impact by addressing three overarching questions:

1) What is the fate of glacial nutrients and biota as glacial ice and snow diminishes?

2) How do changes in meltwater sources impact downstream sediment assembly and composition, and therefore ecological function?

3) As climate warming amplifies, how will future increases in glacial melt impact glacial-fed sediment greenhouse gas emissions and ecological function?

By combining glacial microbial ecology with hydrological community modelling, this project will carve out an innovative research dimension to consider the ecological fate and impact of microbiota and nutrients released from diminishing glacial systems. This project will form the basis for a more wholistic approach to glacial modelling, where the computed consequences of climate-induced glacial loss extend beyond sea-level rise, and additionally incorporate changes to the biosphere and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Ecological theory is a crucial and timely tool to bring to the field, as it bridges the gap between what can feasibly be sampled from these vast and often inaccessible environments, and the ecological reality of these dynamic systems.

Candidates are expected to have either an MSc, or considerable research or work-based experience. They should have an interest in climate change and microbial ecology, and they should have experience or background in either microbial ecology, molecular biology, hydrology, glaciology or ecological modelling.

How to Apply: Candidates should send a CV and cover letter to [Email Address Removed] by May 31st 2022. Cover letters should include 1) motivation for applying, 2) relevant experience and fit to this specific project, 3) research and career ambitions. Blanket cover letters will not be accepted.

Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to submit a full application through the University application portal, before being invited to interview.

Informal enquiries are welcome in advance of the deadline. Please send these to Dr Karen Cameron ([Email Address Removed])


Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU settled status applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (£16,062 for Session 2022-23).
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