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Understanding the flows of carbon through shelf seas using cutting edge sampling systems and analysis techniques (JOHNSONU17iNERC)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Johnson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This PhD concerns the nature and processing of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in shelf seas, with study locations in UK waters. The student will develop technical skills in cutting edge analytical techniques applied to important research challenges in the marine carbon cycle.

Understanding DOM fluxes from land to sea is important for managing water quality and because DOM is a potentially manageable pathway for long term carbon storage in the deep ocean, with associated environmental and economic benefits. Working with CASE funder Cefas, Defra’s marine agency, the student will gain insight into marine management and policymaking as well as benefitting from the technical and research expertise at both Cefas and UEA.

The studentship will be associated with a new large UK strategic research programme, LOCATE (Land Ocean CArbon TransfEr). This will bring valuable opportunities for the student to interact with a broad community of researchers, with associated scientific and career benefits. The student will be encouraged to present their work not only at national and international research conferences but also to policy and commercial audiences as part of developing impact for their research.

Dr Martin Johnson (School of Environmental Sciences), primary supervisor, is a specialist in shelf sea carbon and nutrient cycling. He leads the NERC Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry ‘Blue Carbon’ work package, linking biogeochemistry and environmental economics to better understand the value of our coastal seas in carbon storage. He has worked extensively with Cefas on SmartBuoy samples for dissolved organic nitrogen and carbon.

The student will work closely with Dr Andrew Mayes (School of Chemistry) to apply a spectrofluorimetric technique (PARAFAC) to the characterisation of DOM in samples. 2-dimensional excitation-emission spectra are used to determine likely sources and nature of dissolved organic matter in samples.

There will be the opportunity to undertake seagoing research cruises with Cefas, as a core part of the research and / or for experience and training purposes.

This NERC Industrial Case studentship is fully funded by NERC through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), in partnership with Cefas for 3.5 years. An annual stipend of £14,553 will be available to the successful candidate who meets the UK Research Council eligibility criteria. These requirements are detailed in the RCUK eligibility guide which can be found at http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/traininggrantguidance-pdf . NERC has, exceptionally, relaxed the residential eligibility rule for NPIF studentships, therefore the award may be made to an international candidate if justification can be made that it has not been possible to recruit a UK candidate. This appointment will be subject to approval by NERC. A successful international applicant will be eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance.

Funding Notes

Please see above.


i) Barrón, C., and C. M. Duarte (2015), Dissolved organic carbon pools and export from the coastal ocean, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 29, 1725–1738, doi:10.1002/2014GB005056.

ii) Johnson, M. T., Greenwood, N., Sivyer, D. B., Thomson, M., Reeve, A., Weston, K., & Jickells, T. D. (2013). Characterising the seasonal cycle of dissolved organic nitrogen using Cefas SmartBuoy high-resolution time-series samples from the southern North Sea. Biogeochemistry, 113(1–3), 23–36. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-012-9738-8

iii) Murphy, K., Stedmon, C., Graeber, D. and Brod, R. (2013) Fluorescence spectroscopy and multi-way techniques: PARAFAC, In Analytical Methods, 23
iv) Jiao, N. , Robinson, C. , Azam, F. , Thomas, H. , Baltar, F. , Dang, H. , Hardman-Mountford, N. J. , Johnson, M. , Kirchman, D. L. , Koch, B. P. , Legendre, L. , Li, C. , Liu, J. , Luo, T. , Luo, Y. , Mitra, A. , Romanou, A. , Tang, K. , Wang, X. , Zhang, C. ( 2014), Mechanisms of microbial carbon sequestration in the ocean – future research directions, In : Biogeosciences. 11, 19, p. 5285-5306

v) Bauer, J. E., Cai, W.-J., Raymond, P. A., Bianchi, T. S., Hopkinson, C. S., & Regnier, P. A. G. (2013). The changing carbon cycle of the coastal ocean. Nature, 504(7478), 61–70. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12857

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