Job Description: Three MSc’s, three PhD’s and one Post Doctorate opportunity in the SOCCO bio-optics project
Introduction:Phytoplankton primary production and carbon export to the deep ocean, “the biological pump” is considered a major contributor to the Southern Ocean CO2 sink removing ~33% of the global organic carbon flux each year. Climate models and decadal data sets predict changes in the earth’s climate that will influence the effectiveness of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink through adjustments to sea surface temperature, stratification and mixing, all of which affect the nutrient and light supply necessary for phytoplankton production (and associated carbon export). The regional character of the sensitivity of biological production to predicted changes in the earth’s climate are however unknown, which impedes our ability to predict the future response of the Southern Ocean’s biological carbon pump to a changing climate. The following research projects aim to derive information from ocean colour and autonomous platforms in the Southern Ocean to provide new insight into ecosystem function.
Study 1:Two MSc projects in measuring rates of phytoplankton primary production in the Southern Ocean using 14C and 15N isotope techniques. These projects will measure rates of new, regenerated and total primary production in the Southern Ocean and interpret the results in context of the physical and chemical environment that the phytoplankton community are living in. The aim of this research is to better understand the response of the biological pump to changes in light and nutrient availability.
Requirements: A background in biological sciences advantageous (e.g. botany, marine biology).
Study 2:One MSc project that analyses high resolution bio-optics data sets from gliders and floats in order to improve our understanding of the seasonal progression of the phytoplankton community in the subantarctic Southern Ocean. Bio-optical sensors (fluorescence, backscattering, PAR) on autonomous platforms (gliders / floats) can be converted to biogeochemical parameters (e.g. phytoplankton biomass, carbon content, size, physiology, productivity) using empirical relationships and simple models. These data will be analysed in conjunction with the underlying physics to assess the phytoplankton community response to small scale variability in ecosystem physical drivers in the subantarctic Southern Ocean.
Requirements: A background in maths, physics or oceanography advantageous. Mathematical programming skills (e.g. MatLab) essential.
Study 3:One Phd project that makes high resolution ship board underway estimates of Particulate Organic and Inorganic Carbon (POC and PIC respectively) using bio-optical measurements of backscattering and intermittent acidification. The relationship between PIC distribution and total particulate backscattering will be examined in order to determine the importance of calcium carbonate producing coccolithophores to the overall optical properties of the Southern Ocean.
Requirements: Numerate with mathematical programming skills (e.g. Matlab). Some knowledge of bio-optics advantageous.