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The impact of climate change and variability on ocean oxygen (LEQUÉRÉQU19RSUEA)

Project Description

Climate change affects the ocean in profound and multiple ways. It warms the ocean, alters the physical circulation, and impacts on marine ecosystems. These impacts combine to cause changes in the carbon and oxygen content of the ocean in ways that are difficult to understand, but will have important impacts on future climate change.

This project looks at climate change and variability through the lense of ocean oxygen. It aims to quantify the decadal variability and trends in the ocean oxygen content, and understand its natural and anthropogenic controls. The work will use and contribute to the development of a cutting edge model of ocean biogeochemical cycles, combining for the first time a high-resolution ocean physical component with a high-complexity representation of marine ecosystems. The ecosystems component will use new ’machine learning’ techniques to make a step change in the representation of biological processes. The PhD student will develop models and conduct model simulations of the world’s oxygen content under a changing climate over the time period 1950-2100, explore the variability in oxygen fluxes in coastal environments and low-oxygen zones, using machine learning techniques along with model data to quantify fluxes, and combine observations of atmospheric oxygen and CO2 with model simulations to assess the contribution of climate change and climate variability to recent changes.

The PhD studentship will be part of a dynamic research group. The successful candidate will have opportunities to interact with an international group of experts and with policymakers in the climate change area, particularly through the Global Carbon Project and associated activities.

This project is particularly suited for candidates with first degrees in any sciences and an interest in the environment and climate change (including physics, computer sciences, mathematics, biology and earth and environmental sciences). Enthusiastic candidates with experience in computer-based analysis are encouraged to apply.

For more information on the project’s supervisor, please visit:
Type of programme: PhD
Mode of study: full time
Studentship length: 4 years (funded period)
Start date: January 2020

Funding Notes

This 4 year PhD studentship is funded by the Royal Society ( and the University of East Anglia. Funding is available to UK/EU applicants only and includes an annual stipend of £15,009

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree in physics, computer sciences, mathematics, biology and earth and environmental sciences, engineering. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1. or higher.


i) Le Quéré, C., et al. (2018), Global Carbon Budget 2018, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, doi: 10.5194/essd-10-2141-2018, 2141-2194.
ii) Andrews, O., Buitenhuis, E., Le Quéré, C., and Suntharalingam, P. (2017). Biogeochemical modelling of dissolved oxygen in a changing ocean, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. A-Math. Phys. Eng. Sci., 375.
iii) Andrews, O.D., N. Bindoff, P.R. Halloran, T. Ilyina, and C. Le Quéré. Detecting an external influence on recent changes in oceanic oxygen using an optimal fingerprinting method (2013). Biogeosciences, 10, 1799-1813.
iv) DeVries, T., C. Le Quéré, O. Andrews, J. Hauck, T. Ilyina, A. Lenton, P. Landshutzer, M. Nowicki, J. Schwinger, and R. Séférian (2019). Decadal trends in the ocean carbon sink. PNAS, 116, 11646-11651.
v) Pickers, P. A., Manning, A. C., Sturges, W. T., Le Quéré, C., Fletcher, S. E. M., Wilson, P. A., and Etchells, A. J. (2017). In situ measurements of atmospheric O-2 and CO2 reveal an unexpected O-2 signal over the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Glob. Biogeochem. Cycle, 31, 1289-1305.

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