Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours
  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Joel Alroe
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science
Professor Zoran Ristovski
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science


This research sits within the Cooling and Shading Subprogram of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP).

RRAP is an ambitious and innovative R&D effort that places Australia as the leader of coral reef adaptation and restoration science. It is a consortium of Partners, including QUT, dedicated to creating an innovative toolkit of interventions to help the Reef resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change. These partners include the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, James Cook University, Southern Cross University, QUT, and the University of Queensland. For more information visit

The Cooling and Shading Subprogram investigates technologies to prevent or reduce coral bleaching by reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Reef. This includes emitting sea spray droplets into the atmosphere to create shade through clouds or fog to reduce solar radiation during high-risk periods for coral bleaching.

Research activities

As the successful applicant you will be working within the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and collaborating with national and international partners in atmospheric and ocean sciences. There will be potential opportunities for students to travel to undertake field work and participate in conferences/workshops during your candidature.

The successful applicant will undertake research across one (or some) of the QUT-led components of the cooling and shading sub-program. For example VRES project could entail:

  • undertaking laboratory measurements of physical and chemical properties of artificially generated sea spray aerosol
  • examining atmospheric data collected in-situ over the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and/or
  • using the above to estimate the impact of adding sea spray aerosol over the GBR to cooling and shading
  • participate in field measurements on the GBR if time permits.
Postgraduate research students will be involved in one (or some) of the following cooling and shading activities.
  • taking observations of the atmosphere over the GBR
  • designing and testing sea salt droplet generation methods that have the potential to be scaled up for implementation over the GBR. Sea salt droplet generation systems will be designed to shade the reef by fogging (directly scattering incoming solar radiation) and marine cloud brightening (changing cloud properties to scatter incoming solar radiation)
  • modelling the dispersion of sea salt droplets through the marine boundary layer and their capacity to scatter solar radiation
  • measure emissions from prototype sea spray droplet generation systems in-situ over the GBR.
The research focus and scope of the project can be tailored to the applicant to some degree.


The Cooling and Shading Subprogram aims to advance technologies to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the reef. Outcomes for a VRES project would be to produce data on the physio-chemical properties of sea spray aerosol and estimate how these properties could contribute to cooling and shading.

Outcomes for postgraduate research students will depend on the project, however examples might include the following.
  • identifying the sources of cloud condensation nuclei over the GBR
  • determining the performance of atmospheric models and provide ground truthing for satellite-based observations
  • determining the capacity of sea salt droplets to cool and shade the GBR
  • evaluating the efficacy of prototype sea spray droplet generation systems.

Skills and experience

This project is suitable for those with a physics, chemistry, earth science or engineering background with an interest in earth systems, measurement techniques or analysis of large datasets. If you're interested into furthering the study towards an honours or masters/PhD project, you'll be provided with training on the aerosol sampling equipment. This will enable you to participate in field work.

Postgraduate research students should submit an expression of interest.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

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Contact the supervisor for more information.