Doctoral Position investigating the Ocean Carbon Cycle

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: Permanent

In der aktuellen Covid-19 Situation laufen die Rekrutierungen weiter. Es kann dabei allerdings zu Verzögerungen kommen. Vielen Dank für Ihr Verständnis.


100%, Zurich, fixed-term


We are searching for a highly motivated candidate for a recently funded project “Bomb Radiocarbon and the Ocean Carbon Cycle: Observations, Legacy and Implications (BROCCOLI)” to be undertaken at ETH Zurich.

Are you interested in pursuing doctoral studies? Are you interested in the Earth’s carbon cycle? Are you interested in oceanography? Would you have an interest in participating in an oceanographic cruise? Would a blend of field, laboratory and computational research activities be of interest? If so, then you may like BROCCOLI 


Job description

The deep ocean (> 2000 m) occupies approximately 60% of the Earth surface, contains Earth’s largest active reservoir of carbon, and hosts our planet’s largest ecosystem, yet we know remarkably little about how it functions. A fundamental paradigm that underpins our current understanding of carbon cycling in the ocean is the so-called “biological pump”, a complex suite of processes that result in the transfer of carbon fixed by phytoplankton in surface waters to the deep ocean. However, recent studies reveal that carbon delivery to the deep ocean is more dynamic and spatially heterogeneous than hitherto considered. This proposed project seeks to elucidate underlying processes, and explore implications for our understanding of the oceanic carbon cycle. In particular, the project will examine natural 14C variability as well as and “bomb” radiocarbon (from atomic weapons testing in the mid-20th century) in a unique archive of ocean particle samples collected using deep ocean sediment traps to better understand the functioning and significance of the oceanic biological carbon pump. As part of the project, the doctoral candidate will have the opportunity to participate in research cruises from the island of Bermuda and to work with collaborators in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA.  The comprehensive suite of 14C and ancillary data that will be acquired during this project will form the basis for testing models of the carbon cycle, and developing a mechanistic understanding of carbon supply and turnover in the deep ocean.

The PhD position is available to begin immediately, and should start before January 1, 2022.


Your profile

We are seeking a candidate for a 48-month PhD position (salary according to ETH guidelines ). Applicants must hold a relevant MSc degree or equivalent (e.g., in earth, ocean or environmental sciences, chemistry or physics), with prior experience in analytical and quantitative numerical methods. We are seeking a person that can demonstrate independence, creativity, and strong technical skills. An ability to work in a multidisciplinary cooperative environment and prior experience in fieldwork is also a plus. Fluency in spoken and written English is essential, and a good level in German is useful.


ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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