PhD Studentship - Turbulent Breath: Observing the Interplay of Upper Ocean Fine Structure and Oxygen Variability with Autonomous Ocean Gliders (PALMER_UNOC18NEX)

University of East Anglia

Primary supervisor: Dr Matthew Palmer (NOC)

Start date: October 2018

Project description

Ocean-atmosphere gas exchange is important for global climate and oceanic ecosystems. Oxygen concentrations in surface waters are influenced by air-sea exchange; the transfer of oxygen to deeper layers has an important role in ventilating our oceans to maintain healthy and productive seas. Regions where ocean oxygen levels are depleted to potentially unhealthy levels are growing globally, caused by changing temperatures, nutrient supply and atmospheric forcing. This has dangerous implications for marine ecosystems and the potential to change global carbon cycles.

Many of the physical and biogeochemical mechanisms that regulate air-sea transfer of gases are determined by turbulent mixing: chaotic and difficult to measure. Developments using autonomous ocean gliders provide improved capability in resolving fine-scale ocean structure and turbulence up to the sea surface that may enhance our understanding of gas exchange.

Data for this project comes from ocean sites including the Celtic Sea, Porcupine Abyssal Plain and the mid-Atlantic. The student will collect additional data in the framework of the NERC AlterEco project. Each dataset provides measurements of near surface finescale and microscale temperature and velocity by autonomous underwater gliders that allow quantification of turbulent mixing in the near-surface layer and upper ocean thermocline. Combining meteorological and surface measurements from autonomous Wavegliders and ship data, this studentship will investigate the links between variable meteorological and ocean forcing on air-sea gas transfer.

The student will process and analyse turbulence and other physical and biogeochemical data collected by state-of-the-art autonomous ocean vehicles, and develop expertise in air-sea gas transfer mechanisms and parameterisations. Combining this new dataset with models of the ocean surface mixed layer and meteorological data, the student will develop an improved understanding of how changing weather, waves and ocean conditions impact on oxygen uptake to address the key question:

How will future climate impact on the turbulent transfer of oxygen and other gases between ocean and atmosphere?


The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/government/policy partners. The student will be registered at the University of East Anglia, and hosted at the NOC in Liverpool. Specific training includes:

  • Data processing and analysis techniques relating to a wide range of ocean measurements including ocean microstructure (turbulence), gliders, ADCP and CTD.
  • Understanding of air-sea gas transfer mechanisms and parameterisations.
  • Development of ocean surface boundary layer models including coupling of atmosphere and oceans and gas-transfer.


A degree in any numerate discipline, Chemistry, Mathematics, Oceanography or Marine Science, or Physics (minimum 2:1 or equivalent)


Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC/EPSRC 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. 

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