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Studentships: Monitoring Arctic Ocean Acidification From Space Using Satellite Earth Observations

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Plymouth
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 3.5 years full-time study
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 10th August 2018
Closes: 31st August 2018

Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Exeter are inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September/October 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 3.5 years full-time study. Deadline for applications 31st August 2018. Interviews will take place mid September.

Academic supervisors: Dr Helen Findlay, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), hefi@pml.ac.uk; Dr Jamie Shutler, University of Exeter, j.d.shutler@exeter.ac.uk; Dr Peter Land, PML; Professor Richard Bellerby, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)

The student would be initially, for the first year, based in the University of Exeter’s Centre for Geography, Environment and Society, at the Penryn campus in Penryn, Cornwall. For the following years they will then be expected to work at PML, within the Remote Sensing, Marine Biology, and Biogeochemistry groups in Plymouth, Devon. Research visits to Norway are also anticipated.

Ocean Risk Scholarships: As a new initiative in 2018, XL Catlin, the global brand used by XL Group Ltd’s insurance and reinsurance companies, is funding three Ocean Risk Scholarships to examine and quantify risks to ecosystems, businesses and people from the changes taking place in the ocean. XL Catlin will act as a liaison throughout the research, providing risk supervision and allowing the student to work closely with industry professionals.

Background: About one third of the CO2 released into the atmosphere by anthropogenic activity since the Industrial revolution has been taken up by the oceans, resulting in a shift in marine carbonate chemistry, including a decrease in seawater pH and carbonate ion concentration; a situation referred to as ‘Ocean Acidification’ (OA). The majority of scientific efforts to-date for monitoring, observing and predicting the effects of OA have focused on using models and in situ studies (such as buoys, research cruises and laboratory- or field-based studies). Satellite Earth Observation (EO) has yet to be fully exploited in this area of research, but could play an important role in monitoring changes in oceanic carbonate chemistry, as well as assessing vulnerable regions, as they can provide quasi-synoptic, reproducible and well-calibrated measurements. A recent European Space Agency pilot project 'Pathfinders Ocean Acidification’ highlighted this approach (Land et al. 2015) and then established that satellite observations can in fact reproduce carbonate parameters with accuracy comparable to in situ or model-driven approaches. However, the Pathfinders-OA project also highlighted some regions where the empirical algorithms underperformed and further development is needed, including the Arctic Ocean.

Aims & Methods: Satellite EO have the potential to fill important gaps in monitoring and this project aims to establish the use of satellites for monitoring carbonate chemistry in the Arctic Ocean by comparing algorithms already described in the literature (e.g. Nondal et al. 2009; Arrigo et al. 2010) with new algorithms of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) with associated data, gathered from appropriate and available datasets, e.g. Global Data Analysis Project version 2. The latest available satellite data of salinity (from Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS), Aquarius, and Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellites) and temperature (from the Climate Change Initiative (CCI)) will be used to drive the algorithms, and algorithm uncertainty will be evaluated using in situ carbonate data. The best performing algorithms will then be used to evaluate the seasonal cycle of DIC and TA, and will be used to calculate pH and aragonite saturation state. Satellite-derived upwelling indices will be used to identify areas associated with coastal and ice-edge upwelling, allowing the potential impact of enhanced ocean acidification for those regions (and ecosystems, fisheries, infrastructure within them) to be assessed.

Training: The student will receive specific training in large data handling, satellite observation analysis, ocean acidification, and statistics. They will also become part of the UoE doctoral college, and will receive training on scientific writing, networking, communication, scientific programming etc. as required. The student will be expected to participate in outreach and communication activities directly associated to the project through XL Catlin and other engagement opportunities, including presenting to the European Space Agency and the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network community. There may also be opportunities to participate in Arctic fieldwork.

Suggested references: Land et al. 2015, Envir. Sci. Technol., 49: 1987-1994, doi: 10.1021/es504849s;
Nondal et al. 2009, Limnol. Oceanogr.: Methods 7, 109–118;
Arrigo et al. 2010 J. Geophys. Res., 115, G04024, doi:10.1029/2009JG001224;
Findlay et al. 2015, Polar Res., 34: 24252, doi.org/10.3402/polar.v34.24252; http://www.pathfinders-oceanacidification.org/

   
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