PhD position: Using isotopes to understand the role of sea ice in the biogeochemical cycles of the main greenhouse gases

Post date: Jun 12, 2016 10:45:45 PM

PhD position: Using isotopes to understand the role of sea ice in the biogeochemical cycles of the main greenhouse gases

Application deadline: 30th of July 2016

Work environment

The PhD candidate will have a contract of 4 years and be based at the Laboratoire de glaciologie of the Free University of Brussels (ULB) (see the website of the institute: For this project, the Laboratoire of glaciologie collaborates very closely with the chemical oceanography unit of the University of Liège (ULg) and with the isotope laboratory of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU) of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The candidate will have to perform laboratory work at these 2 institutes for several months during the two first years of his/her contract.

Project description

The major greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) play a significant role in the Earth ‘s climate system. Their atmospheric concentrations have largely increased over the last centuries because of anthropogenic activities, but the contribution of their natural sources is still poorly assessed. We aim to investigate the role of sea ice on the budget of these three gases to better understand their biogeochemical cycles and to estimate how the decline in sea ice cover may affect the atmospheric budget of these gases in the future. Concentration and flux measurements as well as stable and radioactive isotope analyses of these gases will be used as qualitative tools to characterize the formation and removal pathways of these gases in, under and above sea ice. This unique dataset will be used in a second step in biogeochemical and atmospheric models to obtain quantitative estimates of the role of sea ice on the atmospheric budget of CO2, CH4 and N2O.

Role of the PhD candidate:

The PhD candidate will help in the development of an isotope targeted new air extraction system and be responsible for measuring gas concentrations and isotopes on sea ice, seawater and atmospheric samples from different polar expeditions at the ULB, ULg and IMAU laboratories. He/She will have as well the chance to collaborate in the development of numerical models to obtain a more quantitative understanding of his/her data. The candidate might have the chance to participate to fieldwork in polar regions and will be able to go to present his/her results at international conferences. The PhD candidate will have to publish at least 2 articles in international journals in order to defend his PhD thesis.

Qualification requirements:

The applicant must:

- Have a Master degree in environmental/climate sciences or chemistry/ physics with an environmental component.

- Have an excellent knowledge of English (oral and written).

- Be highly motivated to perform laboratory work (previous experience in gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, method development and field work is an asset).

- Be ready to participate in polar field surveys up to three months

- Be flexible, independent, goal-driven and open to work in an international team.


Application should be sent by email to Dr C.J. Sapart ( with:

- CV

- Letter of motivation

- The names, addresses and email addresses of 2 references

- Diploma and transcript from your Bachelor’s degree or equivalent

- Diploma and transcript from your Master’s degree or equivalent

- Proof of English language proficiency

For more information, please contact:

Dr Célia Julia Sapart (Supervisor ULB and IMAU):

Prof Jean-Louis Tison (Promotor ULB):

Dr Bruno Delille (Promotor ULg):