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Long-Term Ecosystem Research in Europe

Ph.D research opportunity on dissolved organic carbon, using LTER datasets

A Ph.D research studentship is offered at the University of Reading (School of Human and Environmental Sciences), supervised by Dr Joanna Clark, Dr Andrew Wade, Dr Elena Vanguelova (Forest Research) and Don Monteith (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology). The project, which will involve collaborating with partners at the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, is entitled Identifying the spatial mechanism controlling variability in the long-term increases in dissolved organic carbon concentrations in soil and surface waters. Datasets from the UK's ECN network (an LTER-Europe member) are among those expected to be used during the study.

Recent papers in Nature have reported increased dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in many, but not all, acid impacted surface waters across Europe and North America, prompting concerns that terrestrial carbon stocks are beginning to destabilise due to climate change. However, significant progress has been made identifying a possible causal link between declining sulphur deposition (‘acid rain’) and increased DOC. The challenge now is to demonstrate that declining sulphur deposition explains why DOC has increased in some surface waters, but not others. Novel laboratory studies have shown that changes in DOC solubility in response to changing SO4 additions vary with respect to soil properties. This research projects aims to use available dynamic models and national monitoring data sets collected by Forest Research and the Environmental Change Network to evaluate if soil properties can explain the observed spatial variation in soil and stream water DOC trends in response to declining sulphur deposition at the catchment scale. There will also be opportunity to engage in field based research either independently or as part of existing research projects to supplement modelling work where needed and/or develop individual research interests. The studentship therefore offers balanced training in field- and modelling-based environmental science, supported by a team of supervisors with expertise in modelling, field and laboratory based work.

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Funding Details: Studentship will cover Home/EU Fees and pay the Research Council minimum stipend (£13,590 for 2010/11) per year for a period of up to 3 years.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent. Please note that due to restrictions on the funding, this studentship is for UK/EU applicants only.

How to apply: Eligible candidates should complete a University of Reading postgraduate application form available from http://www.reading.ac.uk/Study/apply/pg-applicationform.aspx . This should be submitted with supporting documents either to scipg@rdg.ac.uk or to:

Postgraduate Office
Joint Faculty Office for Science and Life Sciences
Geography Building
University of Reading
PO Box 227
Reading, RG6 6AB