Dynamics of greenhouse gases (GHG) in marine vegetation, from seafloor to ocean-atmosphere fluxes (PhD position)

HOST ORGANIZATION: IMEDEA – CSIC – Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados

GROUP LEADER: Dr. Iris E. Hendriks (iris.hendriks@csic.es)


Research Project / Research Group Description

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have caused sea surface temperatures to increase, while this increase of atmospheric CO2 has partly been mitigated by the oceans’ uptake. This uptake has drastic consequences for the marine environment, as it drives a pH decrease in seawater known as ocean acidification (OA). The concentration of other gases besides CO2, responsible for the greenhouse effect (CH4 and N2O) in the marine environment also has a high spatial and temporal variability as a consequence of the physical and biogeochemical processes characteristic of each area. In coastal areas, the balance of GHG gases is particularly variable and, in addition to natural causes, is driven by anthropogenic factors. Determining whether the different coastal regions act as sources or sinks is relevant for establishing global greenhouse gas balances.

The Global Change Research Group (GCR) at IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), in Mallorca, Spain, has decades of experience in research of the evidence and effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems, in particular in vegetated habitat like seagrass meadows. The group is involved in monitoring the CO2 concentration in atmosphere and surface water since 2008 and other GHGs since 2018. Their main research subject are processes structuring seagrass meadows, but also invasive macrophytes and they harbour valuable background knowledge about evolution of meadow healt and trayectories of ecosystem services of the meadows. The marine component of the group include:

–        Iris E. Hendriks ( CSIC)

–        Núria Marbà (CSIC)

–        Andrea Anton (UIB)

–        Susana Flecha (CSIC)

–        Elvira Mayol (CSIC)

–        Alex Morell (CSIC)

The GCR group has a high scientific output, with publications in prestigious journals. During the last 5 years, the group has formed 10 PhD students. The group’s PhD students usually obtain competitive contracts or positions after completion of their thesis.

Job position description

The proposed research work will focus on different marine compartments in order to get an overall view of the dynamics of GHG in coastal areas. 1) Through the analysis of time-series CO2, CH4 and N2O from three sites in the Archipelago of the Balearic islands (part of the Balearic Ocean Acidification Time Series – BOATS) GHG concentration in surface water will be determined and ocean-atmosphere fluxes calculated. These measurements will be matched to time series of dissolved CO2 from satellite data (i.e. CMEMS – Copernicus) and additional parameters obtained in-situ. Calculations of gas fluxes will be validated by surface measurements using incubation chambers. Seasonal and interannual variability will be determined from the ongoing series (started in 2018) and the drivers that determine this variability (physical and / or biological) will be identified.

2) In order to identify the production/retention of GHGs in the benthic compartment, we will deploy benthic incubations in-situ. Manipulations of organic matter and evaluation of key bacterial communities will determine the link between organic matter deposition, i.e. from WWTPs close to seagrass meadows and CO2/CH4 dynamics in seagrasses and macrophytes. Furthermore we will collection cores for laboratory incubation to validate field rates. Laboratory manipulation of temperature according to IPCC future scenarios should enable a prediction of future emissions in the coastal benthic zone of the Balearic islands.

3) The link between benthic GHG dynamics and transfer to the pelagic water column and eventually atmosphere will be established by concentration profiles of the water column.

To apply: Dr. Iris E. Hendriks (iris.hendriks@csic.es)

“La Caixa” Foundation, 29 November 2022. More information.

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