January 2020
Message 12

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[Met-jobs] 2 PhD Position in Earth Observation Science for EU/UK applicants

From "Boesch, Hartmut (Prof.)" <>
To "" <>
Date Sun, 5 Jan 2020 15:08:38 +0000

2 PhD Position in Earth Observation Science for EU/UK applicants at University of Leicester.


Application deadline: 12 noon 10th January 2020.

Start date: 28th September 2020

Funding: Studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by NERC. In addition to the full payment of your tuition fees, you will receive an annual stipend (current set at £15,009 for 2019/0) and a research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000


Diagnosing the Urban Carbon Cycle with Earth Observation

Project Highlights:

·        Work with cutting-edge satellite remote sensing and modelling method

·        Develop and apply novel approaches to monitor CO2 emissions in support of carbon mitigation policies

·        Research into the cutting-edge field of urban carbon cycle  

Reducing carbon emissions to prevent damaging climate change is one of the grand challenges of our time. Due to the Paris agreement most countries have now committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. However, there are still no reliable means of observing carbon emissions on the appropriate space and time scales required to underpin such mitigation policies. To address this challenge, a main focus will have to be on urban areas which cover only a small fraction of the land but are responsible for about 70% of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. Cities are also the focal point of many political decisions on mitigation with often very ambitious goals themselves. However, our understanding of carbon budget of cities is poor, as historically carbon cycle studies have focused on ‘natural’ ecosystems. The urban carbon budget is quickly becoming a new frontier in carbon cycle science with the emerging of megacity carbon projects e.g. in Los Angeles. In this project, we will use a combination of modelling and new observations to evaluate the carbon budget of cities, focusing initially on London, to gain new scientific insights into man-made emissions from cities and the role of the urban biosphere that sequesters CO2, which is important for ‘green’ megacities such as London. CO2 shares many emission sources with major air pollutants (NO2, particles), so that we need to understand the relationship between carbon and air quality as mitigation policies will impact both. This will be especially relevant for megacities in developing countries and we will also study megacities in India, e.g. Delhi, which has some of the largest air quality levels globally. This studentship will contribute to the high-profile science area of urban carbon with high public interest, relevance to policy makers. The student will work with the teams of current and upcoming CO2 satellite missions including the French/UK MicroCarb mission and the ESA CO2M, which will be the first mission to measure at the same time CO2, NO2 and aerosols.


Improving Key Carbon Cycle Processes in Climate Models Using Satellite Observations

Project Highlights:

·        Will receive training on the use and analysis of the UK Earth System Model, the UK’s state-of-the-art climate model.

·        Will use emergent constraint and machine learning methods to analyse relationship between new satellite observations and carbon cycle processes in land-surface models and fully-coupled climate simulations.

·        Will use climate simulations from UKESM with updated processes/couplings and assess the impact that changes have on future climate projections, expected to be a major impact.

The impact of man-made emissions on climate is recognised as a, if not the, major global societal issue. To understand the effects of these emissions (and mitigate/adapt to the subsequent changes), it is vital that we have a better understanding of the various couplings and feedbacks within the Earth system. Climate models are beginning to incorporate processes and feedbacks related to biogeochemical cycles, becoming “Earth system” models (ESMs). How such processes interact with each other and the physical climate is highly uncertain but has a huge impact upon climate predictions. ESMs successfully reproduce current atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations but diverge wildly in predictions because of fundamental differences at the process-level. For methane (CH4), the situation is worse and no CMIP6 (Climate Model Intercomparison Project) model will run with interactive CH4 as the uncertainties are too large. This leads to large uncertainties in climate predictions or prevents important processes from being included in simulations due to their unrealistic feedbacks. Observations are key to understanding and constraining these processes. The growth in the quantity and capability of satellite observations offers an excellent opportunity to evaluate and constrain many climate-relevant carbon cycle processes. We are entering a period where we will have an unprecedented wealth of satellite missions measuring the carbon cycle (CO2, CH4, CO, SIF, Biomass). These observations must be fully utilised in developing and improving our representation of the carbon cycle in future ESMs. This studentship would aim to use observations to evaluate and better develop our understanding of key biogeochemical processes and feedbacks in the carbon cycle that are vital to the accurate modelling of the Earth system and hugely significant for predictions of future climate. New methodologies like “emergent constraints” have already begun to demonstrate the utility of satellite observations for constraining climate processes. These methods use observations of quantities that can be measured to explore relationships within ensembles of climate models and ultimately to constrain and improve understanding of parameters that we currently cannot measure. This studentship will use such approaches, combined with new satellite observations, to improve our process-level understanding and representation of the carbon cycle.


Professor Hartmut Boesch  

Head of Earth Observation Science

Department of Physics and Astronomy

University of Leicester

Leicester, UK 



T: +44 (0)116 252 2273


Twitter: @HartmutBoesch

Divisional Director, National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)


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