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  Quantifying ‘Blue Carbon’ stores around Man-Made Structures


   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr N Hicks  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

About the Project: The North Sea has >1300 oil and gas installations, and a further 1800 offshore wind turbines all of which will require full removal, as part of decommissioning, at the end of their service. However, in some areas of the world, decommissioning practice has led to a ‘rigs-to-reefs’ approach, where these man-made structures (MMS) are left in situ, to form artificial reefs. This approach however, has not yet been approved for the North Sea, largely due to a lack of scientific knowledge about how MMS removal (i.e. full vs partial) impacts on the marine ecosystem, and how this may impact the vital carbon stores in the marine sediment. This PhD Studentship funded by the NERC-INSITE programme, University of Essex and the National Decommissioning Centre (University of Aberdeen) will be the first to quantify the ‘blue carbon’ stored in marine sediments, specifically in the exclusion zones around oil and gas infrastructure. This will include collection of new data through direct sediment sampling, using radioisotope and stable isotope measurements, to evaluate the extent and age of carbon stores. This project is likely to have direct policy impact, and data collected through this studentship will provide the first knowledge of the carbon sequestration potential around man-made structures. The project data will feed directly into the national carbon budgets, and inform future decommissioning guidelines. 

Collaborative Partners: Based at the School of Life Sciences, University of Essex, the student will join the internationally recognized Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Research Group and is supported by the supervisory team at the collaborative partners: National Decommissioning Centre (University of Aberdeen), University of St Andrews, Centre for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment Science (Cefas), and Shell (Case Partner). The student will become empowered in their path to become an independent researcher by a supportive and experienced supervisory team.

Training Opportunities: Combining lab and fieldwork, the student will receive a comprehensive package of training on diverse analytical chemical techniques (radioisotopes and stable isotopes), and direct experience of sampling on research vessels around man-made structures. The student will also have the opportunity to spend time within the research labs of collaborative institutes (National Decommissioning Centre, Aberdeen, and University of St Andrews), and gain business and policy experience (at Cefas, Shell). The student will also present their research at national and international conferences and publish their findings for data dissemination and to build their research profile.

Funding: Based on UKRI rates 2021-22 £15,609 plus tuition fees. This studentship is a 3 year + 1 year award that may be taken full-time or part-time. To be eligible for this award you must be a Home student (i.e. UK national meeting residency requirements) and have a first or upper second class BSc (or equivalent) or Masters in a relevant area. We welcome applicants from environmental science, chemistry or molecular biology backgrounds.

How to apply: Email a CV to Emma Revill [Email Address Removed] Please contact Dr Natalie Hicks ([Email Address Removed]) for further information about the project.

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6)

 About the Project