9/12/2017 10:57:06 AM News

PhD: Scotland's Blue Carbon: The contribution from seaweed detritus

Phd Blue Carbon

Application deadline: 2nd October 2017, 5 pm BST

The studentship will be based at SAMS in Oban on the west coast of Scotland. The SAMS lab has easy direct access to potential coastal study sites, and has extensive laboratory and aquarium facilities to support the project.  SAMS also hosts the UK Natural Environment Research Council’s National Facility for Scientific Diving, providing support for a wide range of shallow water research around the UK and around the world and training opportunities for developing skills in scientific diving.  

Being jointly funded by Marine Scotland in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, the project will give access to those working in policy development and management of the marine and coastal ecosystem. Marine Scotland will provide access to analytical facilities at their Aberdeen laboratory for the measurement of kelp isotope and lipid biomarkers in coastal detritus and decaying seaweed. 

There will also be opportunities to work at Aberystwyth University and the Marine Biological Association through the duration of the project.

Project overview

Carbon fixed and stored by coastal plants/algae, aka blue carbon, may significantly offset atmospheric CO² emissions from human activities. There is a profound lack of knowledge of the role that coastal kelp beds in particular play in fixing carbon and acting as donor habitats for adjacent sediment stores.  Kelp may be the dominant source of organic carbon fixed in coastal areas, with a 400,000 tC/yr contribution from macroalgae in Scottish waters. The total contribution of plants to organic carbon stored annually in sediments depends on the rates of breakdown of detached plant material and processes transporting material to storage areas, currently largely unknown.

The studentship will determine the relative contribution of seaweed to coastal blue carbon stocks using biomarkers, quantify the amount and distribution of seaweed detritus produced each year in Scottish waters, determine the likely losses of detritus carbon through respiration during decay and transport, and re-assess the total contribution of seaweed to Scotland’s blue carbon budget both now and in a changing climate.

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