Ship smoke on the horizon? Determining the impact of aerosol trace elements from shipping emissions deposited into the North Atlantic Ocean (USSHER_UPLYM17EE)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date: October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Simon Ussher

Project description:  

Scientific background and significance
The chemistry of the surface ocean and lower atmosphere are connected by transport pathways that have profound effects on the Earth’s climate and the growth of phytoplankton that form the base of the marine food chain. Though certain aerosol particles are natural in origin, there is growing evidence that anthropogenic derived aerosols significantly influence surface seawater chemistry. These emissions are currently intensifying along with expanding populations, changing land-use and industrial emissions.

In this project you will determine trace elements in ship emissions and aerosol / rainwater samples collected at coastal and open ocean sampling sites in the North Atlantic. Laboratory simulations will be used to study the dissolution of these trace elements into seawater, using well established techniques. Using these data, you will assess whether current anthropogenic emission associated with maritime shipping perturb pelagic ecosystems either by deposition of nutrient-type trace elements (P, N, Fe) or harmful toxic heavy metals, (e.g. Cu and Sn).

Research methods, training and supervision
Your will become an expert in cutting-edge techniques to sample and analyse marine aerosols and rainwaters. You will conduct fieldwork on ships, at a coastal atmospheric observatory (Penlee Point, Cornwall) and collect remote open ocean samples deposited in the North Atlantic Ocean (Bermuda). You will learn how to use advanced chemical analytical techniques and meteorological models to identify the origin of these aerosols and assess their impact on the surface ocean.

Training opportunities will be offered in marine atmospheric fieldwork at established study sites (Fig 1.) in Cornwall (UK) and Bermuda You will also receive comprehensive, hands-on training in advanced analytical techniques, including mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and X-ray techniques (XRF and SEM-EDX).

You will benefit from a team of experienced and friendly supervisors from Plymouth University, University of East Anglia (UEA), and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the scientific networks and career opportunities associated with these institutes.

Person specification: We are looking for a student with a minimum 2:1 BSc in Environmental Science, Marine Science or Chemistry (or similar courses) with a genuine passion for marine and atmospheric science.

Please note that the successful candidate will be registered for a PhD in the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences.

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.

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South East England