PhD project: Quantifying the impacts of ocean acidification on benthic biogeochemistry: Effects on total carbon & nitrogen turnover rates in marine sediments

Project details

Scottish Association for Marine Science, UHI Millennium Institute

Project Supervisor(s) Dr H Stahl

Funding Availability
Directly Funded Project (Students Worldwide) – See Funding Key for more details Directly Funded Project (Students Worldwide)

Application Deadline 19 April 2010

The average acidity (pH) of the world’s oceans has been stable for the last 25 million years. However, the oceans are now absorbing so much anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere that measurable changes in seawater pH &carbonate chemistry can be seen. It is predicted that this could affect the basic biological functions of many marine organisms, with implications for the survival of populations &communities, as well as the maintenance of biodiversity &ecosystem function. Until now, OA research has largely focused on negative effects of high pCO2 world (i.e. lower pH in seawater) on biological functions &physiology of especially calcifying marine organisms. However, little is known about how this effect will transplant to the overall efficiency of elemental cycling in the marine realm. Coastal & shelf sediments play a major role in the global carbon & nitrogen cycle & the overarching question here is how OA might affect the efficiency of benthic C & N cycling. How will increasing pCO2 levels (lower pH) affect the sediment microbial community & ultimately the process rates for which they are responsible? For example, will there be a shift in the competition for nitrate between benthic primary producers & nitrifying/denitrifying bacteria as CO2 becomes more readily available for the algae? This & several other questions will be addressed in this study, where the student will focus on the combined effect of pH & temperature on benthic carbon & nitrogen cycling using a set of laboratory based flume- & percolation experiments in association with state-of-the-art sensor technology. The project is based on two complementary NERC proposals (one funded & one under review) on “Impacts of OA on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species & life cycles” & “Quantifying & monitoring potential ecosystem impacts of geological carbon storage” respectively.

Funding Notes
Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a first class or upper second-class honours degree in an appropriate discipline.

For further information regarding the studentships or the application process please contact the Education Department at SAMS via

Project descriptions and the application form are posted on our web site:
Deadline for applications is 19 April 2010.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview week commencing 17th May 2010.

Economy class travel and accommodation expenses may be reclaimed from the point of entry to the UK, up to a limit of £200, 2 April 2010. Web site.

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