PhD Scholarship – Nitrogen cycling in vegetated coastal systems

N2O is a potent greenhouse gas with marine sources estimated to contribute about 30% of natural global load. However, the contribution from the coastal zone, in particular seagrass and mangrove systems, is poorly constrained. High rates of nitrification and denitrification occur in tropical seagrass and mangrove sediments driven by heterotrophic respiration (see Eyre et al., 2011. Biogeochemistry 102, 111-133). N2O is by-product of nitrification and an intermediate during denitrification suggesting that these sediments may make a significant contribution to coastal N2O emissions. This fully funded project will study a number of vegetated coastal systems along the east coast of Australia using a combination of in situ N2O concentration and stable isotope measurements using cutting-edge cavity ring down spectroscopy, benthic process measurements and stable isotope 15N labelling experiments. With this technology we aim to determine not only the flux of N2O but also identify which mechanisms are driving N2O release in these coastal sediments.

Applicants will need to have an Honours or Master degree in a field such as biogeochemistry, environmental chemistry, or a closely related field. The project will involve extended periods in the field, sometimes in remote areas. The PhD scholarship will provide a tax free stipend of $23,728 and tuition fees will be exempt.Interested applicants should send their CV highlighting their research background in this area to Prof. Bradley Eyre (bradley.eyre@scu.edu.au). Only short-listed applicants will be notified. Closing date December 2, 2012 although may extend longer if position is notfilled. Starting date is flexible.

The project will be undertaken in the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry (www.scu.edu.au/coastal-biogeochemistry) at Southern Cross University which received the highest rank of 5.0, well above world average, in geochemistry in the most recent assessment of research excellence by the Australian government.

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