PhD opportunity in the University of East Anglia: The calcium carbonate cycle in the Southern Ocean

Institution: University of East Anglia
Dept/School: School of Environmental Sciences
Project Supervisor: Dr D Bakker
Co-Supervisor: Dr U Schuster
Application Deadline: 20 April 2011

The problem: The world oceans take up about 25 % of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by human activity. This uptake is changing the carbonate chemistry of the oceans, a process known as ‘ocean acidification’ (1). Some marine plankton (coccolithophorids, foraminifera, pteropods) build calcium carbonate shells, while bony fish excrete high magnesium calcites (2). A chemical carbonate precipitate, ikaite, has recently been observed in sea ice (3). Carbonate precipitates sink out, while taking organic material with them. The reverse process of precipitation, carbonate dissolution was thought to occur primarily in the deep ocean, but recent work indicates that considerable dissolution may occur in the upper 1000 m (4). Continuing ocean acidification is expected to reduce carbonate precipitation with the most severe effects in the high latitude oceans (5). Additionally, the importance of carbonate precipitation in the Southern Ocean is poorly understood. The research: Recent awareness of the potential effects of ocean acidification on marine calcifying organisms highlights the need for an assessment of carbonate precipitation in Antarctic waters. This PhD studentship has the aim to characterize the calcium carbonate cycle in the Southern Ocean. Vertical cross-sections of inorganic carbon parameters have been made on recent cruises. The student may use data analysis, laboratory experiments and/or modelling in his/her research on calcium carbonate processes, depending on his/her scientific interests. Requirements, training, opportunities: We seek an enthusiastic team player with strong scientific interests and self-motivation. If possible the PhD student will participate in an oceanographic cruise or experiment and will greatly benefit from (inter-)national collaboration in ocean acidification research, ANDREX and Oceans2025. The candidate will acquire transferable skills, e.g. project planning, data analysis, effective collaboration, scientific writing, and oral communication, while carrying out research of global significance. Our website is at

Funding Notes:

Funding may be available for UK/EU students. If funding is awarded for this project it will cover tuition fees and stipend for UK students. EU students may be eligible for full funding, or tuition fees only, depending on the funding source. International students will not be eligible for this funding however they are still welcome to apply for this project but would have to find alternative funding.


Ref1: (1) Raven J., K. Caldeira, H. Elderfield, O. Hoegh-Guldberg, P. Liss, U. Riebesell, J. Shepherd, C. Turley and A.J. Watson (2005) Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Policy document 12/05,, The Royal Society, UK, 68pp.
Ref2: (2) Wilson, R.W., Millero, F.J., Taylor, J.R., Walsh, P.J., Christensen, V., Jennings, S. and Grosell, M., 2009. Contribution of fish to the marine inorganic carbon cycle. Science 323, 359-362.
Ref3: (3) Dieckmann, G.S., Nehrke, G., Papadimitriou, S., Göttlicher, J., Steininger, R., Kennedy, H., Wolf-Gladrow, D., Thomas, D.N.: Calcium carbonate as ikaite crystals in Antarctic sea ice. Geophys. Res. Letters, 25, L08501, doi:10.1029/2008GL033540, 2008.
Ref4: (4) Milliman, J.D., Troy, P.J., Balch, W.M., Adams, A.K., Li, Y.-H., Mackenzie, F.T., 1999. Biologically mediated dissolution of calcium carbonate above the chemical lysocline? Deep-Sea Research I, 46, 1653-1670.
Ref5: (5) Orr, J.C., Fabry, V.J., Aumont,O., Bopp, L., Doney, S.C., Feely, R.A., Gnanadesikan, A., Gruber, N., Ishida, A., Joos, F., Key, R.M., Lindsay, K., Maier-Reimer, E., Matear, R., Monfray, P., Mouchet, A., Najjar, R.G., Plattner, G.-K., Rodgers, K.B., Sabine, C.L., Sarmiento, J.L., Schlitzer, R., Slater, R.D., Totterdell, I.J., Weirig, M.-F., Yamanaka,Y. and Yool, A. (2005) Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms’. Nature 437, 681–686., Web site and more information.

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