Atmospheric ocean iron fertilisation

Atmospheric trace element supply to Southern Ocean: Linking dust and bushfire emissions to marine biogeochemistry

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Oceans play a vital role in Earth’s climate through the control of atmospheric carbon dioxide. An important component of this system is the iron cycle, in which iron-rich aerosols are transported from the land via atmosphere to ocean. Iron is a key micronutrient for marine phytoplankton, the scarcity of which limits essential biogeochemical processes and ocean fertility. Important advances in our understanding of atmospheric trace element supply to the oceans have been made in recent years through an integrated oceanographic and atmospheric observational program around Australia. Yet there remain key unanswered questions regarding the solubility of trace elements in aerosols (and the processes controlling this), the role of different aerosol sources (mineral dust, anthropogenic emissions, bushfires), the potential toxicity of trace elements for marine plants, and how climate change may affect atmospheric supply.

This project will extend the research to new land-based stations and planned future voyages in the Southern Ocean, and the candidate will have the opportunity to participate in multiple field programs. Our observational strategy has strong collaborative activity under the auspices of the international GEOTRACES program (international study of global marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes), and data derived from this project will be fed into atmospheric and biogeochemical models in collaboration with theoreticians. This research will provide the critical information on iron and other trace elements supplied from atmospheric aerosols for ocean productivity and marine ecosystem health, providing the science for predicting a key factor in the future impact of the oceans on climate.

The successful applicant will join an active team within IMAS/AAPP that are working on important aspects of marine trace element biogeochemistry. The student will be trained in state-of-the-art sampling and analytical procedures for micronutrients for use both at sea and on land, and develop interdisciplinary analysis and synthesis expertise.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Andrew Bowie


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Additional funding

If successful, applicants will also receive a top-up scholarship of $6,000 per annum for 3.5 years. This scholarship is funded from the Australian Government as part of the Antarctic Science Collaboration Initiative program through the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP).


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to Domestic/ International/ Onshore applicants
  • Students should meet normal University of Tasmania PhD entry requirements
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Suitable for graduates with degrees in: Chemistry (preferably Analytical), any Earth or Environmental Science discipline, Oceanography/Marine Science

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A strong interest in the biogeochemistry of trace elements in the ocean or the atmosphere would be desirable

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Prof Andrew Bowie to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 27 March 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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