Carbon dioxide uptake and carbonate chemistry in UK shelf waters (PhD project)

Project Description

The problem: Net uptake of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) by the oceans and shelf seas reduces the increase of atmospheric CO2 and consequent global warming, but also promotes ocean acidification. The North Sea constitutes an important net CO2 sink with large spatial and seasonal variation (Thomas et al. 2004). Seasonal stratification and off-shelf transport of carbon-rich subsurface water are key mechanisms in the North Sea continental carbon pump (Thomas et al. 2004). Other processes may affect the efficiency of the continental shelf pump, for example cooling (Tsunogai et al. 1999) and carbon overconsumption (Bozec et al. 2006). Large year-to-year variation has been observed in North Atlantic CO2 uptake (Watson et al. 2009). As the Northern North Sea exchanges large volumes of water with the North Atlantic Ocean, it is likely that the North Sea CO2 sink equally has large year-to-year variation. The role of other UK shelf seas in the atmospheric CO2 budget is less well quantified. There is a clear need for long-term, accurate observations of carbonate chemistry and data synthesis of such observations for UK shelf waters. A new surface ocean CO2 synthesis product, the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas ( (Pfeil et al. 2012), enables systematic study of variation of CO2 air-sea transfer in UK shelf waters.

The research: This PhD studentship has the objective to assess shelf sea CO2 uptake and carbonate chemistry, their variation and the processes driving this variation. The student will participate in the collection of marine carbon data, will use SOCAT and will contribute to SOCAT releases. Tools may include statistical methods, parameterisations, mapping techniques, satellite observations and modelling. This will be a joint PhD project between the University of East Anglia and Cefas, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science ( The student will benefit from (inter-)national collaborations in the European Union CarboChange Project (, SOCAT and the UK Ocean Acidification Programme (, as well as from the link to policy at Cefas.

Requirements, training and opportunities: We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active team player with strong scientific interests and self-motivation. She/he will have at least a 2.1 honours degree in chemistry, mathematics, physics, computing, or a branch of environmental science with good numerical ability and experience in chemical analysis. He/she will participate in seagoing research, subject to a successful ENG-1 medical and sea survival course, and will be trained in marine CO2 measurements. The student will be enrolled in the UEA Science Graduate School ( and the Cefas Student Network and will spend several weeks per year working at Cefas in Lowestoft. The candidate will acquire transferable skills, such as project planning, handling and visualization of data, execution of fieldwork, effective collaboration, scientific writing, and oral communication, while participating in research of global significance.


Bozecclim Y, Thomas H, Schiettecatte L-S, Borges AV, Elkalay K, De Baar HJW (2006) Assessment of the processes controlling the seasonal variation of dissolved inorganic carbon in the North Sea. Limnology and Oceanography 51: 2746-2762.

Pfeil B, Olsen A, Bakker DCE, Hankin S, Koyuk H, Kozyr A, Malczyk J, Manke A, Metzl N, Sabine CL, Akl J, Alin SR, Bellerby RGJ, Borges A, Boutin J, Brown PJ, Cai W-J, Chavez FP, Chen A, Cosca C, Fassbender AJ, Feely RA, González-Dávila M, Goyet C, Hardman-Mountford N, Heinze C, Hood M, Hoppema M, Hunt CW, Hydes D, Ishii M, Johannessen T, Jones SD, Key RM, Körtzinger A, Landschützer P, Lauvset SK, Lefèvre N, Lenton A, Lourantou, A, Merlivat, L, Midorikawa, T, Mintrop, L, Miyazaki, C, Murata, A, Nakadate A, Nakano Y, Nakaoka S, Nojiri Y, Omar AM, Padin XA, Park G-H, Paterson K, Perez FF, Pierrot D, Poisson A, Ríos AF, Santana-Casiano JM, Salisbury J, Sarma VVSS, Schlitzer R, Schneider B, Schuster U, Sieger R, Skjelvan I, Steinhoff T, Suzuki T, Takahashi T, Tedesco K, Telszewski M, Thomas H, Tilbrook B, Tjiputra J, Vandemark D, Veness T, Wanninkhof R, Watson AJ, Weiss R, Wong CS, Yoshikawa-Inoue H (2012) A uniform, quality controlled Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT). Earth System Science Data Discussions 5: 735-780, doi:10.5194/essdd-5-735-2012.

Thomas H, Bozec Y, Elkalay K, De Baar HJW (2004) Enhanced open ocean storage of CO2 from shelf sea pumping. Science 304: 1005-1008.

Tsunogai S, Watanabe S, Sato T (1999) Is there a “continental shelf pump” for the absorption of atmospheric CO2? Tellus 51B(3):701-712.

Watson AJ, Schuster, U, Bakker DCE, Bates N, Corbière A, González-Dávila M, Friedrich T, Hauck J, Heinze C, Johannessen T, Körtzinger A, Metz N, Olaffson J, Oschlies A, Pfeil B, Olsen A, Oschlies A, Santano-Casiano JM, Steinhoff T, Telszewski M, Ríos A, Wallace DWR, Wanninkhof R (2009) Tracking the variable North Atlantic sink for atmospheric CO2. Science 326 (5958): 1391-1393, doi:10.1126/science.1177394.


Environmental Sciences

Co-Supervisors: Dr Naomi Greenwood (Cefas), Dr Ute Schuster (UEA)
Primary Supervisor: Dr Dorothee Bakker


Start date: October 2013
Programme: PhD
Mode of Study: Full Time
Studentship Length: 3 years

How to Apply

Deadline: 17 May 2013. We have several selection rounds. If you wish to be considered in our January selection meeting, please apply by 30 November. If you wish to be considered in our March meeting please apply by 31 January. Applications received by 31 Mar will be considered in May.
Apply online

Fees & Funding

Funding Status: Competition Funded Project (EU Students Only)
Further DetailsFunding Source: Funding is available from a number of different sourcesThis project is also open to applicants who have their own funding.

Fees: Fees Information (Opens in new window)Other Funding Info: Bench fees consist of:
£492/year top slice
£800 laptop
£724 for meeting attendance, travel to BASThe RTSG estimate is composed of:
Instrument training & technical support by research technician (2 weeks) £1500
Shipment to/from Lowestoft £100
ENG-1 medical and dental check £110
UEA insurance and Travel risk assessment for Cefas cruises £100
Sea survival £180
Laboratory consumables £400
Chemicals & electrodes for DIC and TA £400
Certified reference material (30 bottles) £1500
Safety Shoes £60
2 Publications £1600
International conference £1500

Funding Conditions: Funding is available to 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.

Entry Requirements

Acceptable First Degree: Physics, chemistry, mathematics, computing, or a branch of environmental science.
Minimum Entry Standard: The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1

University of East Anglia, November 2012. Job advert.

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