PhD Studentship: Investigating Climate Change Via The Atmosphere: Using Multi-Species Greenhouse Gas Measurements to Shed Light on Earth System Land, Ocean And Atmospheric Processes

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date: October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Manning

Project description: Is the UK on track to meet its fossil fuel emissions reduction commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement? What is the impact of El Niño variability on the North Atlantic Ocean sink for absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2)? What are the consequences of climate change on agricultural and forest greenhouse gas emissions? Why is atmospheric methane (CH4; second most important greenhouse gas) increasing globally, and is the ‘2°C warming target’ under threat because of these methane increases? What are the predicted changes in UK nitrous oxide emissions (N2O; third most important greenhouse gas), as agricultural and fertiliser practices change?

These are just some of the important, policy-relevant climate change questions that you will have the opportunity to investigate, in what is truly a multi-disciplinary PhD opportunity. Your work will primarily involve addressing questions, such as the above, via data analysis of long-term atmospheric greenhouse gas time series, primarily from UEA’s ‘Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory’, but also from other monitoring stations in the UK, Europe and globally. The objectives of this studentship are deliberately varied, and too many for any single student – you get to choose! But at the same time, you will receive comprehensive supervision to guide your choices, and ensure your chosen goals are exciting, policy-relevant, and feasible.

The studentship also includes fieldwork, operating state-of-the-art greenhouse gas measurement equipment at Weybourne, and on a commercial freighter ship that travels between the UK and South America. This will provide you with training in practical transferable skills. You will join an international community of atmospheric measurement scientists and will have opportunities to attend European and international meetings, particularly under the EU’s ‘International Carbon Observation System – ICOS’. In addition, you will have formal data analysis training opportunities through UK and European summer schools, workshops and collaborations, such as, learning how to use atmospheric transport models to quantify different sources of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 12/13 February 2018.

For further information, please visit

Person specification:

You will have a numerical skills or maths-based background. Attention to detail (specifically relating to the practical aspects of the project) and excellent writing skills are also required.

EnvEast welcomes applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited background in environmental sciences. Excellent candidates will be considered for an award of an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 or equivalent.

Funding notes: Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources. 

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