PhD: Short-lived halocarbons in the ocean and their role in atmospheric chemistry

Project Description


This project will have the successful candidate plying the length of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They will be joining an “Atlantic Meridional Transect” cruise using a British Antarctic Survey ship travelling from the UK to the Falklands.  They will also embark on a second cruise on a Korean ice-breaking vessel sailing the Pacific from the Arctic to the Antarctic.    



The student will investigate how the oceans can influence atmospheric chemistry and climate.  The candidate will be in charge of state-of-the-art atmospheric instruments at sea and use them to measure a cocktail of trace gases, the enigmatic “short lived halocarbon” (SLH) gases as they flux out of the ocean and into the atmosphere.  SLH are produced in seawater and are important in the oxidation chemistry of the atmosphere, particularly above the remote and relatively unexplored oceans away from the continents.  The student will quantify SLH fluxes whilst crossing the equator, the oligotrophic gyres, and more productive shelf and coastal waters.



The student will be joining two active and dynamic research groups in this exciting joint project between the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, two high profile research organisations.  He/she will receive training in the measurement of SLH and ozone using high sensitivity analytical equipment (PTR-MS, GCMS).  They will work closely with other marine and atmospheric scientists at PML/UEA and with national/international scientists on board the research ships.  The student will spend about the majority of their time at PML ( with easy access to the sea using local boats, recently refurbished laboratories and a newly established atmospheric station.  The candidate will benefit from a wide range of training in research and professional skills. 



Enjoyment of travel is essential.  We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active team player who is self-motivated, with a strong aptitude for practical work, and willing to work at sea.  He/she will have at least a 2.1 BSc in chemistry, physics or a suitable branch of environmental sciences.   

For scientific enquiries please contact Dr Phil Nightingale ( or Prof Bill Sturges (



Archer SD, Goldson LE, Liddicoat MI, Cummings DG, Nightingale PD, Marked seasonality in the concentrations and sea-to-air flux of volatile iodocarbon compounds, J. Geophys. Res. 112 DI10.1029, 2007

Dixon JL, Beale R, Sargeant S, Tarran G.A and Nightingale PD. Microbial acetone oxidation in coastal seawater, Frontiers in Microbiology, 5 doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00243, 2014

Beale R, Dixon JL, Arnold SR, Liss PS, & Nightingale PD, Methanol, acetaldehyde and acetone in the surface waters of the Atlantic Ocean and their air-sea fluxes, J. Geophys. Res., 118, 5412 – 5225, DOI: 10.1002/jgrc.20322, 2013

Cox MJ, H Schaefer, PD Nightingale, IR McDonald, JC Murrell, Diversity of methyl halide-degrading microorganisms in oceanic and coastal waters, FEMS Microbiol Lett., 334, 111-118 DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2012.02624, 2012


Start date: October 2015

Programme: PhD

Mode of Study: Full Time


Read more and apply online.