Ocean carbon pumps during the glacial

Quantifying carbon storage in the southeast Indian Ocean over the last glacial cycle

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement



$28,854pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

During the peak of the most recent glacial cycle (the last glacial maximum, or LGM, ~ 20,000 years ago), the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was ~80 ppm lower than during the pre-industrial era. Scientists have been trying to figure out why carbon dioxide was so low during the LGM since the discovery was made about forty years ago. Increases in the strength and efficiency of the ocean’s biological pump have been leading hypotheses for much of this time. This biologically-mediated transfer of carbon from the surface ocean to the deep plays a major role in regulating carbon dioxide concentrations on timescales of hundreds to thousands of years. Two feedback processes involving the biological pump have been proposed as contributing to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide after the LGM: 1) decreased iron supply by dust under warmer, moister conditions, decreasing biological productivity, and 2) faster microbial decomposition in warm water, decreasing the accumulation of carbon in the deep sea.

The aim of this PhD project is to assess the role of the poorly sampled, southern Indian Ocean, in ocean carbon storage during the last ice age. The project will apply geochemical techniques to reconstruct the strength and efficiency of the biological pump, the storage of carbon in the deep sea, and the impact of iron fertilisation by dust across the last glacial cycle. The project will focus on a set of sediment cores collected across a depth and latitudinal gradient in the southeast Indian Ocean. There is also the potential to participate in field work to collect new sediment cores along the Antarctic margin of the southern Indian Ocean.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Zanna Chase


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend co-funded by ARC of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

International applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.


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

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:

  • Experience working in a lab.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A background in chemical oceanography, paleoceanography or geochemistry would be advantageous.
  • Familiarity with quantitative data analysis approaches and tools, including scripting languages (Matlab/R/Python) is highly desirable

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Zanna Chase to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • 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.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application 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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