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Using Novel Earth Observation Sensors to Map Aerosol particles and Air Quality over Cities (CENTA2-PHYS11-REME)

Project Description

Airborne particles play a critical role in environmental science with major implications for climate and air quality. Particulate matter (aerosols) is one of the most important factors for poor air quality and most of the estimated 4 million excess deaths per year stem from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases caused by particulate matter in the air. However, aerosols are highly complex and variable, especially in cities, due to their diverse sources (vehicle exhaust, industry, fuel-burning etc.) and atmospheric reactions and existing ground-based networks can give us only a very incomplete view on the urban aerosol distribution. For many cities, a new form of observation is required to provide aerosol air quality information to all and would transform our assessment of aerosol distributions and their likely health impacts.

Optical instruments on satellites are an important resource to monitor aerosols from space that can provide us with a wealth of details on aerosols not possible from ground-based observations. However, the spatial resolution of dedicated aerosol sensors is too coarse for cities. Consequently, many key questions on the urban aerosol distribution and their sources are unanswered, limiting our ability so far to make well-informed decisions for improving air quality within cities.

The recently launched Sentinel-2 can fundamentally change our approach to urban aerosols by allowing us to derive aerosol information on an unprecedented scale of tens of meters which is the relevant scale to pinpoint the different aerosol sources (roads, industrial facilities etc.), to diagnose aerosol variations across urban conurbations and to diagnose the impact of transport pathways within a city (street canyons).

In this project, we will make use of the power of the Sentinel-2 satellite to create a novel aerosol dataset with very high spatial resolution and use it to challenge our current understanding of urban aerosols. This studentship offers exciting science opportunities in the important and timely research area of urban air quality which is of large interest to the public and to policy makers. Results will be published in high quality journals and shared with government and local authorities, particularly through contacts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Physics Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


Journal: Aerosol Remote Sensing



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