PhD position in Mediterranean Mercury Modeling at LSCE and Mio, France

A fully-funded PhD position on “Modeling the biogeochemical mercury cycle in the Mediterranean Sea” is available at the Laboratoire du Sciences du Climat et d’Environnement (LSCE) and the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO). The objective is to investigate and simulate the mercury cycle in the Mediterranean Sea and how it is impacted by climate change and anthropogenic emissions. Mercury is a global pollutant and a neurotoxin with a serious health risk for humans, mainly via the consumption of marine fish. Anthropogenic Hg emissions have largely altered natural Hg levels (Lamborg et al. 2014, Outridge et al. 2018). Microorganisms feeding on sinking marine organic matter in the mesopelagic zone are thought to produce the toxic methylmercury species (MMHg), that bioaccumulates along the marine trophic chain to harmful levels (Villar et al. 2020). The direct links of anthropogenic Hg emissions and changing climate to marine fish Hg levels, and ultimately human exposure remain ill-understood (Schartup et al. 2019). The Mediterranean Sea is under the influence of anthropogenic emissions and changing climate, both affecting the biogeochemical mercury cycle. This oligotrophic basin, limited by macronutrients, mainly receives supply via atmospheric deposition, upwelling of deep waters and rivers.

The strategy is based on the use and analysis of 3D atmospheric and oceanic models, especially the regional coupled NEMOMed-PISCES model that simulates the dynamics and biogeochemical cycles of the Mediterranean at high resolution (1/12 ), including its evolution according to different IPCC climate change scenarios. We will simulate the biogeochemical cycle of mercury (Hg), resolving Hg species (MMHg, DMHg, Hg , Hg2+, pHg, pMMHg) in the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea is one of the best covered areas in terms of observational Hg data (Cossa et al. 1991, 1994, 1997, 2018, Horvat et al. 2003, Kotnik et al. 2007, 2009, Heimbürger et al. 2010). The data comprises over 1000 data points and the new data acquired during the recent cruises will add another 300 data points. The wealth of observational Hg data and the well-studied circulation and biogeochemistry (Ayache et al. 2015, 2016, MERMEX group 2011) make the Mediterranean Sea the ideal place to implement marine biogeochemical Hg model.

The PhD student will based at the LSCE, in Gif-sur-Yvette and spend several long terms stay at the MIO in Marseille, France. S/he will help with the validation and interpretation of all acquired data and be in charge of the implementation of the data into numerical models. Although the observational data for PhD project is already acquired, the student will be given the opportunity to learn about the observational aspects, ultra-trace clean techniques, participate to field campaigns. This project benefits of the national program MISTRALS and the international GEOTRACES programs.


A qualification comparable to a Master’s degree or Diploma in oceanography, environmental sciences, or related field is required. Experience in programming and numerical modeling is a requirement, and notions in marine biogeochemistry are desirable. We also expect good English language skills.

Applications including a motivation letter, CV and contact details of 3 referees should be sent to and as a single pdf file, using as subject “MED Hg modeling”.

Application deadline 5th September 2021. Possible starting date 1st October 2021


Ayache et al. 2016. Biogeosciences 13(18): 5259-5276. ; Ayache et a. 2015. Ocean Sci. 12, 2007–2041. ; Cossa et al. (2009). Limnology and Oceanography 54(3): 837-844. ; Cossa et al. 2018. Sources and exchanges of mercury in the waters of the Northwestern Mediterranean margin. Progress in Oceanography 163: 172-183. ; Cossa & Martin 1991. Marine Chemistry 36(1–4): 291-302. ; Cossa et al. 1994. Marine Pollution Bulletin 28(6): 381-384. ; Cossa et al. 1997. Deep-Sea Research II 44(3-4): 721-740. ; Durrieu de Madron et al. 2011. Progress in Oceanography 91(2): 97-166. ; Heimbürger et al. 2010. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta 74(19): 5549-5559. ; Horvat et al. 2003. Atmospheric Environment 37: 93-108. ; Kotnik et al. 2007. Marine Chemistry 107(1): 13-30. ; Lamborg et al. 2014. Nature 512, 65–68. ; Outridge et al. 2018. ES&T 52, 11466–11477. ; Schartup et al. 2019. Climate change and overfishing increase neurotoxicant in marine predators. Nature 572, 648–650. ; Villar et al. 2020. Environ. Microbiol. Rep. 1758-2229.12829.