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ENV East Doctoral Training Partnership


Applications to the EnvEast Doctoral Training Partnership are now closed.

Below you can browse some of the PhD projects we have previously funded; if you would like to be informed when applications open, or if you have any questions about EnvEast and our application process, please email us.

Projects previously funded by EnvEast


Determining the active flux of carbon within the Southern Ocean and its sensitivity to climate change

Project description

The Southern Ocean is an important regulator of the climate system, particularly in buffering atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The region can act as a sink for CO2, drawing it in to the surface layers and eventually sequestering it to the ocean interior. This downward flux of carbon can occur in a number of different ways, from the passive sinking of particles to the downward movements of water masses at zones of convergence. What is particularly unknown is the rate at which carbon may be actively transported downwards through the migration of zooplankton. Some zooplankton eat in the surface layers and migrate to depth where they respire, defecate and excrete carbon closer to sequestration depths. These activities may be a key means by which carbon is sequestered, particularly in the highly productive parts of the Southern Ocean. Nevertheless, some of these regions are warming rapidly, and temperature change is likely to affect both the behaviour and physiological rates of these zooplankton. This project will aim to measure rates of active flux in a range of Southern Ocean environments and also examine how climate change may impact this flux.

The study will involve oceanographic fieldwork, most likely in the Scotia Sea sector of the Southern Ocean, where the candidate will capture and incubate biomass dominant zooplankton taxa that are known to migrate vertically. Measurements will be made of respiration, egestion and excretion to build up an overall measure of flux. This will be compared to an alternative approach examining enzyme activity across the whole zooplankton community. Sensitivity to temperature will be examined through incubations at present day and predicted future temperature regimes. The candidate will synthesise results and build models to extrapolate their findings to circumpolar scales.

  • Start date 1 October 2014