PhD: Autonomous underwater vehicles with breakthrough sensors of ocean acidication

Project Description

Scientific background:

Every year, the world's oceans remove roughly one quarter of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) released by human activity, an important process for our climate. This uptake of anthropogenic CO2leads to ocean acidification, with potentially severe consequences for marine biota. Carbon is also one of the 'denominations' to quantify marine biological production and can provide insights into marine and atmospheric transport processes and rates. One of the big unknowns associated with the marine carbon cycle is the role of shelf seas in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and exporting it to the deep ocean. The northern North Sea is probably one of the most important seas in this respect. It has strong exchange with the North Atlantic across the northern boundary. Incoming water is relatively poor in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). In summer and autumn, it is enriched by remineralisation of organic matter; in winter, by enhanced CO2 dissolution due to cooling. The DIC-enriched leaves offshore to deeper waters, potentially for a long time. Previous studies of these processes required expensive efforts over large space and time scales.



The aim of this PhD project is to explore the use of autonomous underwater gliders with novel chemical sensors in gathering data on variability in the shelf-sea carbon system. The student will work on sensor implementation in the UEA glider facility, glider deployment and piloting, collection and chemical analysis of calibration samples and numerical data interpretation and publication.


Person specification:

We seek an enthusiastic team player with strong scientific interests and self-motivation, with good numerical and analytical skills and at least a 2i BSc in Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography or a similar subject. The student will participate in two or more research cruises.



The two primary partners in this project are the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas). Cefas will provide ship-time on their research vessel Cefas Endeavour for trials of the glider/sensor package and act as CASE partner for the student. Kyushu University (Japan) will provide sensors and associated knowledge transfer.



Cullison Gray, S.E., DeGrandpre, M.D., Moore, T.S., Martz, T.R., Friederich, G.E. and Johnson, K.S. (2011) Applications of in situ pH measurements for inorganic carbon calculations. Mar. Chem. 125, 82-90.

Shitashima, K., Maeda, Y., Koike, Y. and Ohsumi, T. (2008) Natural analogue of the rise and dissolution of liquid CO2 in the ocean. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 2, 95-104.


More information and apply online.