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Lyell PhD Studentship

The Role of Dissolved Organic Matter in Atmosphere-Land-Ocean Interactions

Our Ref: EGISRP2016

Understanding how carbon is stored and transported along the land-ocean continuum is one of society's greatest challenges and an integral component of the global climate system. The advent of the industrial age has changed the way carbon is transported between the major stores on land and in the ocean by disturbing natural fluxes, creating new pathways and feedback mechanisms. Carbon cycling is intimately linked with the hydrological cycle through various chemical and physical processes across temporal and spatial scales, directly influencing the structure, composition and adaptation of ecosystems. Understanding these relationships between carbon and the water cycle and their effects on the environment and ecosystems is of central importance to improve our ability to better predict the consequences of global warming.

This project focusses on understanding how carbon stored and mobilised within the environment could affect ecosystem functionality and services, using long-term field sites managed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Scotland and northern England as experimental laboratories.

The complexity of biogeochemical interactions associated with carbon, nutrients (e.g. N, P, K) and water itself, controls how much carbon is sequestered, at what rate, and for how long. Despite its global relevance, no single dataset is able to provide a detailed understanding of the key processes involved. In this study you will tackle this challenge by pairing bulk geochemical measurements to assess carbon quantity with novel analytical techniques (including Size Exclusion Chromatography, Fluorescence Spectroscopy and carbon isotopes; 13C and 14C) to provide diagnostic information on the cycling of carbon pools. High-end analytical facilities in the new Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University will be used and further developed to identify and quantify components of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in lake, river and marine environments. This novel dataset will be explored using statistical and process-based modelling approaches in collaboration with Newcastle University, who will provide expertise in hydrological and nutrient cycle modelling. This partnership will enhance your ability to identify and quantify the mechanisms that are responsible for the formation, transport and storage of carbon in the studied natural and perturbed environments.

Funding Notes
This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of 14,057 for the 36 month duration of the project. Full funding is available to UK, EU and international students.

To be eligible, applicants should have a first-class honours degree or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Applicants must be highly motivated with an environmental science/biogeochemistry/hydrology related qualification. Applicants with an interest in advanced organic/isotope geochemistry and computer programming are particularly encouraged. Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.

This project will be based within the Lyell Centre of the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society at Heriot-Watt University.

How to Apply
Please complete our online application form:

You must quote the full project title and reference number on your application form. You will also need to provide a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts; proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English) and references from two academic sources.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Ryan Pereira (HWU):

The closing date for applications is October 2016. Applicants must be available to start the course of study in January 2017.

posted: 29 July 2016     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.