PhD student: Southern Ocean biogeochemistry

The department of Bioscience of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany, invites applications for a position as PhD student within a project that studies physical and biological feedbacks in the Southern Ocean carbon cycle and their effects on the global carbon cycle by analysis of data from observations and from model output starting at August 1st, 2014.

The Southern Ocean is a crucial player in the global carbon cycle. It is, however, vehemently debated whether the Southern Ocean CO2 sink has recently become less efficient in spite of ever increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations .The „saturation“ of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink was explained by stronger westerly winds that go along with the positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index.

Enhanced phytoplankton production during the positive phase of the SAM, however, can modulate the response of the Southern Ocean carbon cycle. It will be particularly important for future climate change predictions to understand how changes in the physical and biological carbon pumps interfere and how the SAM effect will interact with direct climate change effects.

The export of nutrients from high-latitudes also determines how much biological production can occur in lower latitudes and therefore SAM-induced changes in Southern Ocean nutrient budgets can also affect the efficiency of the low-latitude biological carbon pump.

Changes in Southern Ocean biology (nutrient budgets, surface chlorophyll and phytoplankton functional types) and carbon fluxes related to the SAM shall be analysed in the AWI data sets that stem from Polarstern cruises of repeat sections in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean and from satellite products. One aspect of the analysis will be the detection of changes in high-latitude carbon budget and fluxes. A second aspect of this data analysis will be the effect of the SAM‐induced changes on nutrient export to lower latitudes. The repeat section along the Prime Meridian will be occupied again in the austral summer season 2014/2015 and the PhD student will join the cruise. Model output will be used to determine changes in nutrient transport and low-latitude productivity and carbon drawdown.


  • Master degree (or comparable) in (chemical) oceanography, marine/environmental/climate sciences, (environmental) physics, or a closely related discipline
  • Experience with a higher programming language (e.g., Matlab, R, Ferret, Fortran, Python,…)
  • Good statistical and mathematical skills
  • Fluency in English and good communication skills
  • Interest in biological oceanography and global biogeochemical cycling
  • High degree of motivation and independence and ability to work well in a team environment
  • The willingness to participate in scientific ship cruises is a precondition for this position

Application deadline: 15th May 2014

Please see also:

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