PhD: Shining new light: Using chemiluminescence to measure and understand diel variability in seawater

Project Description

Background and Significance

Dimethylsulfide (DMS) is a gas produced by algae in the oceans.  Once in the atmosphere it influences atmospheric chemistry and is thought to affect Earth's radiative balance (albedo) through the formation of particles and clouds.  Current techniques for measuring seawater DMS are limited either by the requirement for manual involvement or by power and cost limitations.  This has limited our understanding of the spatial and temporal variability in global DMS, an uncertainty in current climate models that needs to be reduced.


Research Approach and Student Role

You will work with international researchers at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Plymouth University.  You will primarily be based in Plymouth where you will develop an automated method to measure DMS using a technique that quantifies the light emitted when ozone reacts with DMS.  Emphasis will be placed upon reducing the size of instrumentation and cost of analysis and you will have the opportunity to spend time at Plymouth University to learn the technique of flow injection.  You will learn to use existing techniques for DMS analysis (gas chromatography, mass spectrometry) and will compare results from these with the approach you have developed.


Field and Lab testing

Once you have developed the method, you will have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork during regular (weekly) trips to a sampling site in the English Channel.  You will also investigate the use of this instrument with lab cultures.  If trials are successful, there may also be the opportunity for you to participate in a research cruise on the RRS James Clark Ross across the Atlantic: UK to the Falkland Islands.


Person Specification

We seek an enthusiastic and capable student to undertake the work described above.  Candidates must be prepared to go to sea for periods of up to 8 weeks to make measurements in challenging conditions.  He/she must have achieved at least a 2:1 BSc Honours and/or an MSc in a physical science (environmental science, chemistry, physics or maths) and be capable of independent and team work. Candidates are encouraged to contact supervisors with any scientific enquiries and for further details.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview day on either Thursday 12 or Friday 13 February 2015.

The successful candidate will be registered for a PhD in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, to which applications should be addressed.



Law, C. S., Breviere, E., de Leeuw, G., Garcon, V., Guieu, C., Kieber, D. J., Kontradowitz, S., Paulmier, A., Quinn, P. K., Saltzman, E. S., Stefels, J., and von Glasow, R.: Evolving research directions in Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere (SOLAS) science, Environmental Chemistry, 10, 1-16, Doi 10.1071/En12159, 2013.

Willetts, D. 2013. Eight Great Technologies. ISBN: 978-1-907689-40-6)


Start date: October 2015

Programme: PhD

Mode of Study: Full Time


Read more and apply online.