Job advertisement Fully funded PhD opportunity for EU/UK students: Constraining CO2 emission of cities with sensor networks

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European Geosciences Union

Fully funded PhD opportunity for EU/UK students: Constraining CO2 emission of cities with sensor networks

Fully funded PhD opportunity for EU/UK students: Constraining CO2 emission of cities with sensor networks


University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is a leading UK university committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching; ranked in the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings. The University of Leicester has a long and distinguished record of discovery in space science. Every year since 1967 has seen a Leicester-built instrument operating in space. We hold, and have held, vital roles in many space missions for space agencies including NASA, European Space Agency, UK Space Agency, ISRO (India) and JAXA (Japan), covering astronomical, planetary and Earth observation science missions.

The Earth Observation Science (EOS) group of the University of Leicester is an interdisciplinary group based in the School of Physics and Astronomy with academic staff also in the Departments of Chemistry and Geography. The main focus of the EOS group is to conduct integrated research and development, leading the design, build, data analysis and exploitation of increasingly sophisticated and powerful sensors that are now being flown on satellites. Underpinning this work is the utilisation of field instruments, laboratory data and models either in-house or through collaborations. The group has a strong foundation in leading space research at European level both with the European Space Agency and with the European Commission.

The EOS group at University of Leicester is also hosting the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO). NCEO is a distributed research centre of approximately 100 scientists from UK institutions that provides the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) with national capability in Earth Observation science and incorporates world-class capabilities in interpretive EO.


Leicester, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Relevant divisions
Atmospheric Sciences (AS)
Biogeosciences (BG)
Climate: Past, Present & Future (CL)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship

An annual tax free stipend is provided (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Preferred education

Application deadline
21 November 2019

7 October 2019

Job description

Constraining CO2 emission of cities with sensor networks

Reducing carbon emissions to prevent damaging climate change is one of the grand challenges of our time. Although most countries have now committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (thanks to the Paris Agreement), we currently have no reliable means of observing carbon emissions on the appropriate space and time scales required to provide a better understanding of emission sources to underpin mitigation policies (‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’).

A main focus will have to be on urban areas which cover only a small fraction of the land but are responsible for about 70% of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. Historically carbon cycle studies have focused on ‘natural’ ecosystems, but since our understanding of carbon budget of cities is poor, urban carbon is quickly becoming a new frontier in carbon cycle science with the emergence of megacity carbon projects e.g. in LA and Paris. Understanding carbon at city scale can also inform local policy decisions on carbon mitigation and ensure that cities setting ambitious local goals are directing their efforts effectively.

Recent development in sensor technology provides now an opportunity for developing novel sensor networks using flexible and ‘low-cost’ CO2 sensors that can be deployed in urban environments to provide frequent measurements across a city in real-time. Such detailed data will allow us to gain new scientific insights into human-generated emissions from cities and CO2 uptake by the biosphere, which is important for ‘green’ cities such as London. There will also be opportunities for exploring synergistic approaches with upcoming satellites that target cities (but on larger spatial scales) and with existing air quality networks.

This studentship will combine novel technology for low-cost sensors that will facilitate unique urban sensor networks and high profile science with high public interest, relevance to policy makers and a clear potential for commercial applications. The studentship is supported by the partner EarthSense Ltd., a Leicester-based company who specialises in air quality sensors and pollution modelling.

This research project is eligible for a fully funded College of Science and Engineering studentship for UK/EU applicants which includes:

  • A full UK/EU fee waiver for 3.5 years
  • An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)
  • Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)