PhD opportunity on atmospheric ocean iron fertilisation, University of Tasmania, Australia

Project: Atmospheric trace element supply to Southern Ocean: Linking dust and bushfire emissions to marine biogeochemistry

Oceans play a vital role in Earth’s climate through the control of atmospheric carbon dioxide. An important component of this system is the iron cycle, in which iron-rich aerosols are transported from the land via atmosphere to ocean. Iron is a key micronutrient for marine phytoplankton, the scarcity of which limits essential biogeochemical processes and ocean fertility. Important advances in our understanding of atmospheric trace element supply to the oceans have been made in recent years through an integrated oceanographic and atmospheric observational program around Australia. Yet there remain key unanswered questions regarding the solubility of trace elements in aerosols (and the processes controlling this), the role of different aerosol sources (mineral dust, anthropogenic emissions, bushfires), the potential toxicity of trace elements for marine plants, and how climate change may affect atmospheric supply.

This project will extend the research to new land-based stations and planned future voyages in the Southern Ocean, and the candidate will have the opportunity to participate in multiple field programs. Our observational strategy has strong collaborative activity under the auspices of the international GEOTRACES program (international study of global marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes), and data derived from this project will be fed into atmospheric and biogeochemical models in collaboration with theoreticians. This research will provide the critical information on iron and other trace elements supplied from atmospheric aerosols for ocean productivity and marine ecosystem health, providing the science for predicting a key factor in the future impact of the oceans on climate.

The successful applicant will join an active team within IMAS/AAPP that are working on important aspects of marine trace element biogeochemistry. The student will be trained in state-of-the-art sampling and analytical procedures for micronutrients for use both at sea and on land, and develop interdisciplinary analysis and synthesis expertise.

Deadline for applications: 6 March 2023

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