Can Natural Marine Emissions Help Explain Southern Ocean Climate?,- Geography– MPhil/PhD (Funded) Ref: 3009

About the award

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with The Met Office is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2018.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,553 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.


Geography, Streatham Campus, Exeter

Academic Supervisors:
Dr Paul Halloran, University of Exeter
Dr Jane Mulcahy, Met Office
Dr Tom Bell, Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Dr Matthew Woodhouse, CSIRO

Project Description:
This NERC funded 4 year project is looking to appoint a talented, enthusiastic and numerically minded PhD student to work between the University of Exeter and Met Office (CASE partner) from September 2018, to help improve our understanding of Southern Ocean climate.

A key natural marine aerosol (atmospheric particles) precursor is Dimethyl Sulphide (DMS), a gas produced through biological activity in the surface ocean. Natural background emissions of DMS were an important contributor to the total aerosol concentration in the pre-industrial era. How “dirty” our pre-industrial atmosphere was determines how sensitive our current climate system is to additional aerosol particles emitted by humans via activities such as power production agriculture (Carslaw et al., 2013). The state-of-the-art climate model, UKESM1, is being developed by the Met Office and UK scientific community. This model shows that the level of these pre-industrial emissions may have a big impact on how much our planet has warmed in response to industrialisation. We also hypothesise that these emissions may help explain why global climate models typically overestimate Southern Ocean surface temperatures.

We want to work with you to:
-       Develop novel climatologies of surface ocean DMS concentrations, carefully exploring potential uncertainties. To further this, there is the possibility of making new DMS measurements in the Southern Ocean to help fill gaps in our understanding.
-       Perform new climate model experiments at the Met Office, to quantify how sensitive our climate system, and particularly Southern Ocean surface temperatures, are to this DMS emission uncertainty.
-       Use this information to improve or explain the UK’s state-of-the-art climate simulations.
The successful candidate will primarily split their time between the University of Exeter and the Met Office. Depending on the candidate’s skills and interests, there may also be the opportunity to undertake marine fieldwork in the Southern Ocean, and/or for an extended visit to CSIRO in Melbourne. The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate evidence of, or potential for developing, programming skills, the ability to analyse large datasets, statistical analysis and a desire to understand our climate system. We expect the project’s results to be communicated to policy makers and presented at international conferences.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 4 years of full-time study to commence in September 2018.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, currently £14,553 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the NERC.  Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend.  Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.  Further information about eligibility can be found here.

Entry requirements:
Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in Geography, or another related subject
If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see


Application deadline:9th February 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:£14,553 for 4 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Postgraduate Research

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English
The closing date for applications is midnight on 9th Feb 2017.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus the week commencing 26th Feb 2017.
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.