A source of atmospheric nitrous acid (HONO) in snow - understanding air quality above snow covere...

British Antarctic Survey
October 11 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Background & Objective

Snowpacks emit many chemical trace gases to the overlying atmosphere, which affect air quality, chemistry and even climate. One example is the nitrogen oxides NO and NO2, which alter concentrations of ozone (O3), a pollutant and greenhouse gas, and the hydroxyl radical (OH), which is responsible for the removal of many other atmospheric pollutants. Changes in O3 can influence the regional energy balance and climate, whereas OH controls levels of the greenhouse gas methane - as up to 40% of the Earth's land surface is covered seasonally by snow or ice, these processes can have a substantial impact. Nitrous acid gas (HONO) is a particularly reactive nitrogen species, related to NO and NO2, which has been observed previously at surprisingly high levels in air above snow, suggesting a large snowpack source may be present. The aim of this project is to quantify the HONO snow source in coastal Antarctica in summer.


The project will use a state of the art HONO monitor to measure atmospheric HONO production from snow in lab experiments using natural snow samples and in the field, with a possible stay in Antarctica. The data will be used together with a numerical air-snow model to assess the importance of HONO for atmospheric composition above snow, and to improve global chemistry climate models. The project will be based at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge, with the option of extended stay at the UEA Air-Sea Ice camber.


The student will be part of a dynamic research team at BAS (https://www.bas.ac.uk/team/science-teams/climate), which is working on a wide range of environmental topics in the polar regions. Full training in the specific instrumental techniques, modelling tools and fieldwork will be provided. The candidate will attend an atmospheric sciences summer school, and will be supported in preparing results for publication in peer-reviewed journals and at national/international conferences.


Degree in chemistry, physics or related Earth/Environmental Science, with experience in experimental work and good numerical skills (e.g. basic knowledge of a programming language).

Contact: Dr Markus M. Frey


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 12/13 February 2018.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

EnvEast welcomes applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited background in environmental sciences. Excellent candidates will be considered for an award of an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

For further information, please visit www.enveast.ac.uk/apply.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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