PhD Studentship - Is Europe a Carbon Sink?

University of Bristol - School of Chemistry

Funding amount: Standard Research Council rate

The project: This project is a CASE award with the Met Office.

The two biggest drivers of climate change, carbon dioxide and methane are now being monitored more closely than ever before. Our ground-based measurement networks are increasing in density and precision, and multi-million-dollar satellite systems are examining the carbon cycle from space. However, estimates of carbon fluxes using surface or space-based observations differ markedly over Europe, to the extent that it is unclear whether the continent is a net sink of carbon, or whether sources and sinks are approximately in balance.

We can derive carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4) fluxes from atmospheric observations by using chemical transport models and Bayesian methods. This allows us to learn about the carbon exchange with terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems, and to evaluate national emissions. Recent studies that used the ground-based observing system estimate that each year 1.36 ± 1.28 Gt more CO2 is taken up by the terrestrial biosphere in Europe than is emitted. In contrast, satellite observations suggest that this uptake is almost three times higher. Our current estimates of CH4 emissions suggest that Europe emits 1.33 ± 0.3 Gt CO2-equivalent, therefore making the continent either a significant sink or being close to breaking even, when both gases are considered together.

In this project, you will work with the Met Office, to interpret satellite data from NASA’s OCO-2 and the JAXA GOSAT instrument. You will examine whether uncertainties in the observations or the chemical transport models could close the gap between the ground- and space-based observations or whether sampling biases in one or both sets of data could be playing a significant role.

This studentship will use cutting-edge methods to tackle one of the most pressing problems in global carbon cycle studies. You will work as part of the team responsible for verifying and reporting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to the UNFCCC, along with international colleagues a MIT, NASA and other institutions. You will have the opportunity to participate in a range of field courses and present your work at national and international conferences.

References: Reuter et al., doi:10.5194/acp-14-13739-2014

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Select NERC Great Western Four Plus Doctoral Training Partnership PhD on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements: a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. Applicants with a minimum Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply

Funding: The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes. A few fully funded studentships across the DTP are available for EU/EEA applicants not ordinarily resident in the UK (please note that this may be subject to change pending post EU referendum discussions). Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

Contacts: Dr Matt Rigby, Contact number: 0117 9288311

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South West England