CENTA PhD Studentship: Are Rockets the Next Air Pollution Frontier?

University of Leicester

PhD Fixed Term Leicester, UK

Uploaded 17 Nov 2019

Job Description

Project Highlights:

  • First estimate of air pollution and climate impact of rockets since the Space Race
  • Determine the impact of future as these become cheaper and more frequent
  • Work with supervisors who are leaders in their respective fields

Rockets are frequently launched into space and it’s getting cheaper and easier to do so. Even the UK has ambitious plans to host its own horizontal and vertical launch sites. Rocket launches are at very high temperatures and the fuel includes a mix of chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, can lead to the formation of toxic air pollutants and potent greenhouse gases. Nobody really knows the true global impact of rocket launches on air quality, climate and the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

In this project, the student will gather existing data on rocket launches (timing, location, type of fuel) from the Space Race starting in 1957 to the end of 2020 and also conduct a literature search to estimate the type and magnitude of air pollutants released during takeoff and, in the case of return rockets, landing. This information will be used to build an inventory of emissions that will then be implemented in the widely used global 3D GEOS-Chem model (http://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/geos/). Results from the model will be used to determine the contribution of rocket launches to changes in air quality, climate, and the chemical composition of the atmosphere today and whether increased launches in the future are cause for concern.

No prior experience in modelling is required. The student will be trained in the necessary computational skills by the University of Leicester Research Computing staff and by the lead supervisor who has over 10 years’ computer modelling experience. The student will become part of the dynamic and inclusive international GEOS-Chem User Community and have the opportunity to travel to local and international conferences and science meetings to present results from this work.

Person Specification

  • Applicants must have or expect to obtain a first class or upper second class BSc and/or M-level degree (or an equivalent overseas qualification) in a relevant subject.
  • Applicants who hold a lower second class honours degree (or an equivalent overseas qualification) in a relevant subject may be considered for admission provided that they also hold a Masters degree in a relevant subject.
  • University of Leicester English language requirements apply as necessary.