How will climate change affect the production of carbon dioxide by marine plankton (ROBINSON_UENV17EE)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date:  October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Carol Robinson

Project description:  
Scientific background
Plankton in remote ocean regions play a key role in the global cycles of carbon and oxygen. Climate change is increasing the extent of these regions, making them increasingly important to study. Until recently, all open ocean regions were considered to be the same. However our recent work has shown that the North and the South Atlantic Ocean have different air-sea fluxes of CO2, and so may react differently to a changing climate. Plankton require nutrients to grow, and so this difference may be due to a difference in availability of dissolved organic nutrients. This project will address this question through the first spatially and temporally representative study linking plankton production of CO2 with organic nutrients in the Atlantic Ocean. 

The role of the student
You will use techniques only available in the UK at the University of East Anglia to measure plankton respiration and organic nutrients during the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT; program co-ordinated by the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

You will:

  1. participate in AMT cruises to collect samples for respiration and organic nutrients, learning skills in seagoing oceanography
  2. measure organic nutrients in the laboratory, learning skills in analytical chemistry
  3. produce a calibrated dataset of oxygen, nutrients and respiration, learning skills in data processing
  4. interpret the data in terms of how much O2 is consumed and CO2 produced by which size class of plankton under which nutrient conditions, learning skills in statistics
  5. compare these interpretations with those made in the Pacific Ocean by colleagues, learning skills in comparative analysis

You will be trained in seagoing biological and chemical techniques, benefiting from working at both a University and a Research Centre, and within the AMT international research community.

Person specification: This project will suit a student with at least a 2i BSc degree in environmental, biological, chemical or marine sciences, who can work independently and collaboratively at sea.

Funding notes: This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with twenty other research partners.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 14/15 February 2017.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2016/17, the stipend was £14,296.

For further information, please visit

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England