PhD opportunity: The role of river flow is regulating ocean acidification in Belizean coastal waters

Deadline for applications: 1 June 2018!


Ocean carbon chemistry can exert a potentially powerful control over coastal ecosystem processes, particularly in low latitude systems containing coral reefs. The carbon system in such regions is complex, with in situ processes, terrestrial runoff and increasing atmospheric concentrations, all of which vary in time and space, all playing important roles in regulating surface concentrations. This project will use a suite of autonomous systems, satellite remote sensing, in situ sampling and numerical modelling to investigate controls over the nearshore carbonate system around Belize. Belize is one of the most pristine countries in central America and is fringed by the second largest barrier reef in the world. A central aim is to disentangle the relative importance of land derived organic matter, biological processes and atmospheric invasion as terms involved in driving the coastal ocean CO2 system.

As part of the Commonwealth Marine Economies programme we are undertaking a sustained programme of work in the Belize Coastal Environment. This includes deploying an autonomous surface vehicle which will be equipped with a surface sampling package including various carbonate sensors, an ocean acidification monitoring system, an in-situ sampling programme focused on rivers, coral reefs and coastal waters and a land based programme focused on sampling the catchment. This project will use these data in conjunction with numerical model output and freely available satellite data to determine the primary controls over the ocean carbon system in the region. Key partners in this work are the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute ( and University of Belize who will help the student exploit the historical archive of data and link the work undertaken through to policy development in the region. This studentship represents a unique opportunity to contribute to an integrated assessment of how the coastal zone carbonate system in a relatively pristine tropical environment is influenced by land ocean coupling and a changing environment.

The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial / government / policy partners. The student will be registered at Southampton University and hosted at the National Oceanography Centre. Specific training will include: inorganic and organic chemistry of calibration samples (Evans, Sanders, Thompson), calibration and interpretation of sensor data (Sanders), analysis of numerical model and satellite outputs, mooring data (Loucaides) and biological information (Evans and Sanders).

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