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Patchy supply of deep nutrients to surface waters over the mid-Atlantic ridge

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Sharples
    Dr M Palmer
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is an extract of the research project. Simply click on “Apply on-line” above for an instant access to the complete version.

The project will allow the first detailed investigation of the temporal and spatial patchiness of turbulent nutrient fluxes over the mid Atlantic ridge and in the adjacent, deeper basins. A novel set of turbulence data will have been collected by an ocean glider during a cruise in summer 2016, which will form the basis of the PhD research. The transects of data from the glider will allow identification of time-varying and spatially-varying signals in turbulent mixing (Palmer et al. 2015). Additional data from a research vessel survey and a long-term moored array of instruments on and adjacent to the ridge during the glider deployment will allow calculations of turbulent nutrient fluxes (e.g. Sharples et al. 2007). The analysis of in situ data will also be compared with high-resolution satellite images of ocean colour to assess the possibility of responses in surface layer chlorophyll to variability in nutrient flux. Knowledge of this patchiness in nutrient supplies towards the sea surface will be able to be extrapolated globally using datasets of ocean bathymetry, physical structure and nutrient distributions, leading to a new quantification of how global phytoplankton production is sustained by variability in ocean physics.

The student will become a part of the NERC Ridgemix project, a collaboration of ocean scientists from the Universities of Liverpool, Southampton and Bangor and from the National Oceanography Centre. They will have opportunities to go to sea to carry out additional measurements, and to visit colleagues at the University of Delaware (USA). The University of Liverpool offers courses in numerical analyses, ocean physics and ocean biogeochemistry that can augment undergraduate training towards application to this challenging multidisciplinary problem.

Funding Notes

Competitive tuition fee, research costs and stipend (£14,056 tax free) from the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership “Understanding the Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean” (DTP website: http://www.liv.ac.uk/studentships-earth-atmosphere-ocean/) led by the University of Liverpool, the National Oceanographic Centre and the University of Manchester. The studentship is granted for a period of 42 months. Further details on eligibility, how to apply, deadlines for applications and interview dates can be found on the website. EU students are eligible for a fee-only award.


Oschlies, A. (2002). "Nutrient supply to the surface waters of the North Atlantic: A model study." Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans 107(C5).

Palmer, M. R., et al. (2015). "Turbulence and mixing by internal waves in the Celtic Sea determined from ocean glider microstructure measurements." Journal of Marine Systems 144: 57-69.

Sharples, J., et al. (2007). "Spring-neap modulation of internal tide mixing and vertical nitrate fluxes at a shelf edge in summer." Limnology and Oceanography 52(5): 1735-1747.

Waterhouse, A. F., et al. (2014). "Global Patterns of Diapycnal Mixing from Measurements of the Turbulent Dissipation Rate." Journal of Physical Oceanography 44(7): 1854-1872.

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