Investigating climate change via the atmosphere: Using multi-species greenhouse gas measurements to shed light on Earth System land, ocean and atmosph

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Environmental Sciences


A major problem in the in-situ, long-term atmospheric greenhouse gas measurement community is that we are sitting on a wealth of measurement data sets, with no time or resources to examine them. Instead we are too busy keeping the measurements running, as they must run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year - this is very different from most atmospheric scientists, who operate in start-stop campaign mode, and therefore have opportunities to 'catch their breath', analyse their data and write papers. This problem, which has existed for at least a couple of decades in our community, significantly hinders scientific advancement, and is also becoming a growing problem at UEA/ENV. Therefore, this PhD studentship aims to take steps to address this problem at the UEA/ENV-level. This will be achieved by having a studentship focussed not on running campaigns, setting up new instrumentation, or establishing a new measurement station (as our previous students have done), but rather, exploiting the existing data sets that we have. These include, at Weybourne, 9-year records of CO2, O2, CO and H2, a 4-year record of CH4, and 3-year records of N2O and SF6. In addition to Weybourne, we have data sets of CO2 and O2 from Mace Head (west coast of Ireland), CO2, O2 and CH4 from a container ship travelling continuously from Germany to Argentina, and CO2, O2, CH4, N2O and CO from Halley Research Station, Antarctica.

This project is very much a data mining exercise, and is deliberately not prescriptive. The student will have the opportunity both to see where the data leads them, and to chase their own interests. But at the same time, strong direction and guidance will be given by the supervisory team, to ensure that the student does not flounder, and to ensure that their chosen path is both feasible and publishable in the peer-reviewed literature.

Weybourne is the UK's only atmospheric station that is a part of the European Union's 'Integrated Carbon Observation System - ICOS', a major coup for UEA, which provides us access not only to a vibrant international community, but also gives the student access to the atmospheric data sets from the entire ICOS network (~30 atmospheric stations across Europe). In addition, ICOS-Atmosphere holds twice-yearly meetings, and we strongly encourage the student to attend every second meeting, that is, annually. This would allow the student to establish relationships with European and UK colleagues, as well as meet a network of other PhD students researching similar topics.

Multiple training opportunities exist, for example, the Met Office holds training workshops for their 'NAME' atmospheric transport model, and ICOS hold summer schools on greenhouse gases for PhD students.

Finally, the student will also be responsible for maintaining some of the instrumentation at Weybourne, specifically that instrumentation not presently covered by any research grants. This will broaden the student's transferable skills, as the student will obtain an understanding for state-of-the-art instrumentation. The student will also acquire detailed knowledge and understanding of gas handling and complex calibration procedures.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007334/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2028
2094147 Studentship NE/S007334/1 30/09/2018 30/11/2022 Leigh Fleming
NE/W503034/1 31/03/2021 30/03/2022
2094147 Studentship NE/W503034/1 30/09/2018 30/11/2022 Leigh Fleming