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Using underwater robots to measure the breathing of the ocean (ROBINSONCU20SCIO)

Project Description

The problem:
The ocean is running out of oxygen, thereby reducing the volume of water in which oxygen breathing fish can live. Yet our understanding of how microbial respiration, the main process removing oceanic oxygen, is affected by increasing temperature, is severely limited. This project will fill this knowledge gap by improving our ability to predict how microbial respiration and thus oceanic oxygen will be affected by climate change.

The project aims to :
1. Quantify how microbial respiration is influenced by temperature and oxygen
2. Quantify how microbial respiration varies over spatial and temporal scales
3. Develop new model descriptions of microbial respiration

Research methodology:
You will undertake laboratory experiments to assess the influence of temperature and dissolved oxygen on bacterial respiration. Using these data, alongside a database of respiration and dissolved oxygen measured with sensors on Biogeochemical Argo floats, gliders and seal tags, you will derive numerical relationships between oxygen consumption, temperature and dissolved oxygen and estimates of respiration over a range of time and space scales. You will then compare these temperature and dissolved oxygen relationships with those used in state-of-the-art ocean models and develop new numerical descriptions of microbial respiration.

You will receive training in laboratory analytical techniques, data analysis, ocean biogeochemical models and oral and written presentation skills. You should have the opportunity to participate in shipboard Antarctic fieldwork to collect data using underwater gliders and floats. This combination of observational and modelling skills is rare and highly sought after by employers. You will be fully integrated into the PICCOLO project and a Bacterial respiration project, collaborating with research teams at the University of East Anglia and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. You will present your conclusions at international scientific conferences, in peer-reviewed publications and to the general public at science festivals and in schools.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of the project is 1 October 2020.

The mode of study is full-time. The studentship length is 3 years with a non-funded 1-year registration period.

Entry requirements:

Acceptable first degree in Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Oceanography, Marine Sciences, Chemistry.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a competition for a Faculty of Science funded studentship. Funding is available to UK/EU applicants and comprises home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009 for 3 years. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (which for 2019-20 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at View Website . Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual increase).

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