Fully Funded PhD Scholarship: Dissociation of Gas Hydrates and Methane Release Under Changing Permafrost Conditions

Swansea University - Department of Geography

This scholarship is funded by Swansea University’s College of Science and the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

Start date: 2018/19 academic year

Arctic permafrost and gas hydrates stored within experience cyclical annual changes in active layer properties such as spatial extent, ice and liquid water content, and porosity and permeability. This controls not only permafrost and gas hydrate stability and infrastructure resilience, but also impacts on the carbon cycle, specifically the emission of key greenhouse gases such as methane from the Arctic. Our understanding of the governing mechanisms of gas hydrate storage and destabilisation in a warming climate is still limited, however. Three important scientific questions therefore arise:

  1. What permafrost properties control the reservoir storage of gas hydrates within in permafrost areas?
  2. What are the physical and chemical processes by which gas hydrates are destabilized and gases released into the atmosphere?
  3. What are the current and future rates of climate gas release under projected climate scenarios, and how will this release feedback on marine environments and global climate systems?

This PhD project will help answer questions ‘1’ and ‘2’ using a novel high-resolution geophysical approach, thus generating essential data that are needed to constrain numerical models that aim to answer the all-important question (3).

Annual permafrost dynamics and mechanics can be measured and monitored in boreholes, thus providing high-quality information in one vertical dimension. Geophysical imaging can greatly enhance our ability to extrapolate borehole information in two or three spatial dimensions, and integrated geophysical monitoring of permafrost dynamics and mechanics has exciting untapped potential in estimating current and predicting future climate gas emissions and supporting infrastructure management. This PhD project will develop a novel integrated electrical and seismic geophysical approach for assessing and monitoring the evolving physical and chemical properties of permafrost and gas hydrates stored within, which will be validated by ground control measurements.  The project will include extensive periods of fieldwork in in Svalbard, High Arctic, and benefit from multi-facetted data generated by existing scientific projects.


Academic requirements:

Candidates must have a first, upper second class honours or a Master's degree with Merit, in a relevant discipline. 

Residency criteria:

There are no restrictions on the nationality of candidates but international applicants will need to cover the difference between UK/EU and international fees.

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