January 16, 2017

Measuring and modelling the effects of climate change on cyanobacteria in lakes

Measuring and Modelling the Effects of Climate Change on Cyanobacteria in Lakes 400 x 400 px

Toxic cyanobacterial blooms have a damaging effect on water quality in lakes. Hot summers typically enable formation of a shallow mixed layer at the surface of stratified lakes, providing a warm and light environment ideal for cyanobacterial growth.

Future predictions are for such conditions to increase as climate changes, leading to the associated likely increase of these toxic blooms. This project aims to:

1. investigate how different weather conditions alter the mixed layer and affect vertical mixing within lakes;

2. improve our understanding of how this affects the light climate experienced by cyanobacteria and other phytoplankton; and

3. utilise this information to predict the extent to which cyanobacterial blooms will increase in the future.

Regular fieldwork will be carried out on two lakes in the English Lake District collecting data on mixing rates and phytoplankton populations. These data will be supplemented by data collected by state-of-the-art automatic monitoring stations situated on the lakes and used in conjunction with a computer model of lake phytoplankton growth to investigate the impact of climate changes on cyanobacterial populations.

The student will be based in the Lake Ecosystems Group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster, one of the largest lake research groups in Europe, and will work closely with staff at Lancaster University in the Lancaster Environment Centre. During the PhD a wide range of training will be provided including in limnological fieldwork, data analysis and computer modelling.

The successful applicant will need to be: enthusiastic, numerate, able to take part in lake fieldwork in all conditions, interested in ecology, and to possess a full UK driving license, whilst it will also be an advantage to have good communication skills, a practical attitude, experience with computer programming and to be pro-active and self-motivated.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a numerate, environmental or computing discipline. For further details please contact Dr Ian Jones at