PhD Using atmospheric oxygen to unravel anthropogenic and natural CO2 signals (1.0 FTE)

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 06 Feb 2023

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global center of knowledge.

This position is embedded in the Centre for Isotope Research (CIO) of the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG). CIO is devoted to measurements of atmospheric greenhouse gases and related substances. Modern instrumentation, and an experienced technical crew support this work. Close collaboration with the Dept. of Meteorology and Air Quality of Wageningen University exists. More information on CIO's activities can be found at

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, and its atmospheric increase is due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. These emissions are partially compensated by uptake by natural sinks in the biosphere and oceans. To estimate rising atmospheric CO2 levels, it is therefore not only crucial to know the rates of the emissions, but also how much CO2 is taken up by these natural sinks.

In this PhD project, you will use atmospheric oxygen (O2) to contribute to two fundamental challenges in carbon cycle research: understanding the gross drivers of biosphere CO2 exchange –photosynthesis and respiration– and separating the anthropogenic and natural components in the atmospheric CO2 signal. Atmospheric O2 is a powerful tracer here, because O2 and CO2 are directly coupled in the carbon cycle and connected through their so-called exchange ratios. In this program we will further explore the potential of this tracer in carbon cycle research.

The aim of this project is to provide near real-time estimates of CO2 fossil fuel emissions based on new atmospheric CO2 and O2 measurements, using unique exchange ratios per fuel type to “fingerprint” the CO2 signals and attribute them to different emission sources. To this end, you will perform new atmospheric O2 and CO2 measurements in the city of Rotterdam which offer an exciting possibility to better quantify an urban CO2 landscape. This is highly relevant for the energy transition towards achieving pledged CO2 emission reductions.

We are therefore looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate who enjoys finding answers to fundamental scientific questions by making highly precise and challenging measurements. This position is part of a NWO funded Vidi project by Ingrid Luijkx at Wageningen University and Research, and you will also collaborate with a PhD candidate (at WUR) who will work on the gross drivers of biosphere CO2 exchange. In case you are also interested in that position, please see here:

We offer in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,541 in the first year to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the final year (PhD salary scale), based on a full-time position
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% year-end bonus.

The position is for four years and is available from March 2023. First you will be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate whether a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering of the Faculty.

The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources:

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