PhD: Shelf seas as sources and sinks of the greenhouse gases nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide

Project Description

Scientific background:

The atmospheric content of the long-lived greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) has been increasing, largely as a result of human activity. These increases lead to global warming and ocean acidification1. Shelf seas play an important role in global carbon and nitrogen cycles. Biological production in seasonally stratified shelf seas removes CO2 from the atmosphere and the fixed carbon can subsequently be exported to the adjacent deep ocean, a process known as the shelf-sea carbon pump. The production of CH4 and N2O in shelf seas counteracts the climate benefits of the shelf-sea carbon pump. Climate change, eutrophication, hypoxia and ocean acidification may change air-sea fluxes of the three gases in shelf seas.



This ambitious PhD project aims to quantify the sources and sinks for the three gases in Northwestern European shelf seas and to understand the underlying physical and biogeochemical processes. New, high-precision, integrated cavity output spectroscopy analysers2 allow the simultaneous measurement of all three gases. The student will install and operate an autonomous shipboard system for continuous analysis of CH4, N2O and CO2 concentrations in surface water and marine air on the RV Cefas Endeavour. He/she will quantify a 1.5 year time series of air-sea gas fluxes, against which future changes can be identified.


Person specification:

We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active team player with strong scientific interests and self-motivation. She/he will have at least a 2.1 honours degree in physics, chemistry, mathematics, computing, or environmental science. Good numerical ability and experience in chemical analysis are an advantage. He/she will participate in two cruises, subject a medical and sea survival training.



The student will benefit from the expertise in marine biogeochemistry at Cefas and UEA. He/she will present findings in seminars, at annual Cefas student days and at (inter-)national scientific conferences and will publish high-impact, scientific publications and a PhD thesis. The candidate will acquire key transferable skills, for example in project planning, effective collaboration, communication and computing, while carrying out cutting-edge research of global significance.



1Bakker DCE et al (2014) 113-169. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-25643-1.

2Grefe I, Kaiser J (2014) Ocean Science 10:501-512.


Read more and apply online.