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Applications are now open for PhD studentships starting in October 2018. 

Please read the recruitment introduction for more information about eligibility, how to apply, and possibilities for further funding.

The deadline for applications is 8 January 2018.

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FREY_UBAS18EE - A source of atmospheric nitrous acid (HONO) in snow – understanding air quality above snow covered regions

Project description

Selected other project supervisors:
Professor Bill Sturges (UEA)

Figure: The Clean Air Sector Lab at Halley on the Antarctic Coast.

Background & Objective
Snowpacks emit many chemical trace gases to the overlying atmosphere, which affect air quality, chemistry and even climate. One example is the nitrogen oxides NO and NO2, which alter concentrations of ozone (O3), a pollutant and greenhouse gas, and the hydroxyl radical (OH), which is responsible for the removal of many other atmospheric pollutants. Changes in O3 can influence the regional energy balance and climate, whereas OH controls levels of the greenhouse gas methane – as up to 40% of the Earth’s land surface is covered seasonally by snow or ice, these processes can have a substantial impact.  Nitrous acid gas (HONO) is a particularly reactive nitrogen species, related to NO and NO2, which has been observed previously at surprisingly high levels in air above snow, suggesting a large snowpack source may be present. The aim of this project is to quantify the HONO snow source in coastal Antarctica in summer.  

The project will use a state of the art HONO monitor to measure atmospheric HONO production from snow in lab experiments using natural snow samples and in the field, with a possible stay in Antarctica. The data will be used together with a numerical air-snow model to assess the importance of HONO for atmospheric composition above snow, and to improve global chemistry climate models. The project will be based at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge, with the option of extended stay at the UEA Air-Sea Ice camber.

The student will be part of a dynamic research team at BAS (, which is working on a wide range of environmental topics in the polar regions. Full training in the specific instrumental techniques, modelling tools and fieldwork will be provided. The candidate will attend an atmospheric sciences summer school, and will be supported in preparing results for publication in peer-reviewed journals and at national/international conferences.

Degree in chemistry, physics or related Earth/Environmental Science, with experience in experimental work and good numerical skills (e.g. basic knowledge of a programming language).

Contact: Dr Markus M. Frey

The successful candidate will be registered for a PhD in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by EnvEast on 12/13 February 2018.

Selected candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. Ordinarily, EnvEast studentships are for 3.5 years, although longer awards may be made to applicants from quantitative disciplines who have limited experience in the environmental sciences, to allow them to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover tuition fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

This PhD studentship is expected to begin in September/October 2018. Both full-time and part-time study are possible (those planning to study part-time may wish to discuss this with the supervisor before applying).


  1. Frey, M. M., Roscoe, H. K., Kukui, A., Savarino, J., France, J. L., King, M. D., Legrand, M., and Preunkert, S.: Atmospheric nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2) at Dome C, East Antarctica, during the OPALE campaign, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 7859–7875, doi:10.5194/acp-15-7859-2015, URL
  2. Legrand, M., Preunkert, S., Frey, M., Bartels-Rausch, T., Kukui, A., King, M. D., Savarino, J., Kerbrat, M., and Jourdain, B.: Large mixing ratios of atmospheric nitrous acid (HONO) at Concordia (East Antarctic Plateau) in summer: a strong source from surface snow?, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 9963–9976, doi:10.5194/acp-14-9963-2014, URL, 2014.
  3. Beine, H., Colussi, A. J., Amoroso, A., Esposito, G., Montagnoli, M., and Hoffmann, M. R.: HONO emissions from snow surfaces, Environmental Research Letters, 3, 045 005 (6pp), URL, 2008., 2015.
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  5. Grannas, A. M., Jones, A. E., Dibb, J., Ammann, M., Anastasio, C., Beine, H. J., Bergin, M., Bottenheim, J., Boxe, C. S., Carver, G., Chen, G., Crawford, J. H., Domin ́e, F., Frey, M. M., Guzm ́an, M. I., Heard, D. E., Helmig, D., Hoffmann, M. R., Honrath, R. E., Huey, L. G., Hutterli, M., Jacobi, H. W., Kl ́an, P., Lefer, B., McConnell, J., Plane, J., Sander, R., Savarino, J., Shepson, P. B., Simpson, W. R., Sodeau, J. R., von Glasow, R., Weller, R., Wolff, E. W., and Zhu, T.: An overview of snow photochemistry: evidence, mechanisms and impacts, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 4329–4373, doi:10.5194/acp-7-4329-2007, URL:, 2007.