PhD candidate on the ecological impacts of deep-sea mining

Updated: about 2 hours ago
Deadline: 01 Jan 2022

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About the position

In 2015, the 2030 agenda with the 17 sustainability goals was adopted by all UN member states. The sustainability goals see the environment, economy and social development in context. The time horizon for necessary changes is short, and it is challenging to combine different considerations without conflicts of objectives and unintended consequences of measures.

NTNU is now announcing 43 individual PhD positions that will contribute to a greater understanding of system effects, societal changes and conflicts of interest related to the sustainability challenges. These positions are divided into 9 interdisciplinary projects with mainly 4-7 PhD positions in each project. (https://www.ntnu.no/sustainability/calls )

In this position, the candidate is expected to cooperate with the other PhD students in the project Sustainability - Deep sea mining dilemmas by TripleDeep - NTNU  

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate on the ecological impacts of deep-sea mining. The appointment has a duration of three years with the possibility of one additional year of compulsory work (a decision of 3 or 4 years is made in connection with the recommendation and offer, after assessment of whether compulsory work is suitable for the relevant candidate). The appointment is financed by NTNU through its call for interdisciplinary research collaboration in sustainability.

The Marine Science group at the Department of Biology uses interdisciplinary approaches at the interface between marine biology, aquaculture and marine technology and contributes to research and higher education within NTNUs Strategic Focus Area "Marine and Maritime Research".  The activities comprise research fields such as aquaculture, ecology, biodiversity, physiology, systematics, ecotoxicology, and populations dynamics in marine ecosystems with a strong emphasis on national and international collaborative projects.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree. The position is connected to the PhD program at the Faculty of Natural Science.


Project description
The deep ocean floor contains vast deposits of minerals that are necessary in renewable energy technologies. These minerals are expected to be in high demand due to the de-carbonization of the global economy and the transition to a net-zero economy. But while the “blue minerals” may hold the key to a greener future, mining the deep seas raises many questions and dilemmas. Can the minerals be mined without causing massive and irreparable harm to the unique ecology of the deep oceans? Who will be allowed to exploit these minerals, and on what conditions? How can conflicts over rich deposits be avoided? What rules and incentives are needed to attract responsible investors that can pay for the development of the necessary technology? Is it worthwhile to destroy unique and largely unknown habitats in the deep seas in order to address the climate crisis?

The primary objective of the TripleDeep project is to investigate whether Deep Sea Mining can provide a new source of critically important minerals in a sustainable manner. To do so we must address significant knowledge gaps about the political, economic, technological and ecological dimensions of deep-sea mining, and particularly how they interact with each other. The TripleDeep project group consist of an inter-disciplinary team, bringing together historians, marine biologists, economists and engineers.

The PhD position on the ecological impacts of deep-sea mining will focus on the dilemma to balance environmental protection against societal and economic interests. The aim is to assess potential impacts of mining activities on deep-sea species and ecosystems, habitat transformation and biodiversity. Knowledge gaps on mining-induced impacts will be identified and the consequences of change on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems will be assessed. Aspects such as the degree of vulnerability of deep-sea habitats, ecological indicators, biodiversity loss, habitat modification, and recovery potential will be considered thus supporting a more sustainable ecosystem-based management and the process of decision-making.

You will report to Associate Professor Nicole Aberle-Malzahn. The position is embedded into the Marine Science group at the Department of Biology, NTNU campus Trondheim, and embedded into the interdisciplinary research project: TripleDeep – The Deep Dilemmas: Deep Sea Mining for the new Deep Transition.


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