Project title: Rainfall intensity reconstruction from past greenhouse worlds via microbes in peat bogs
Director of Studies: Dr Sabine K Lengger
2nd Supervisor: Professor Simon Belt
Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2018.
The recent rise in extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods, is likely linked to the increase in global temperatures. To prepare, create mitigation strategies, and assess economic and infrastructural risks, we thus must understand the link between global warming and the strength and frequency of precipitation. This can be achieved by studying past warm worlds using molecular organic remains of microorganisms and plants in geological samples (molecular fossils). Proportions of deuterium and hydrogen atoms (δD values) of precipitation water are typical for precipitation regimes (storm vs drizzle). Organisms using this water transfer this signature into their molecules, where it can be preserved for millions of years. The δD values of molecular fossils can thus provide information about the hydrology of past worlds. In your project, you will study this relationship in modern peatbogs, and apply this knowledge to fossilised peat to better understand the hydrology of past warm worlds.
You will plan, and conduct fieldwork, collect and analyse water and peat samples, and geological samples from collaborators, using chemical techniques; and receive appropriate training. You will use GC/LC with (isotope ratio-) mass spectrometry; and with collaborators at Bristol University. You will relate δD values of lipid biomarkers to hydrological conditions in the present; apply this knowledge to interpret results from geological samples from past warm worlds; and present your work at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
… are a motivated chemistry (interested in earth and environment), earth/environmental science, or physical geography graduate.