Precursors of atmospheric aerosols in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Branka Miljevic
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Aerosols are tiny liquid or solid particles suspended in air. They have a significant role in the radiative balance through their direct interaction with incoming solar radiation (scattering and absorption) , and indirectly through their interactions with cloud (they act as seeds on which water can condense to form clouds). Indirect effect is a much more complex problem, and involves the role of aerosols in the cloud formation and the modification of their properties such as changes to cloud reflectivity, cloud cover, lifetime, and precipitation.

The biggest uncertainties in the current climate models come from understanding the effects aerosols have on climate. To improve the models and reduce these uncertainties studies are needed of aerosol properties in pristine environments such as the Southern Ocean (SO) and the Antarctic where anthropogenic influence is negligible.

Research activities

Several voyages were conducted on the research vessel RV Investigator both in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic region, where information on aerosol properties (size, composition, etc.) were collected. At the end of 2018 will be further 4 voyages on the Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis, where data will be further collected on the aerosol properties in these regions.

This project will involve identifying gaseous precursors of aerosols by analysing data obtained by Chemical Ionisation Mass Spectrometer (CIMS) for the voyages so far conducted. CIMS is a state of the art instrument that measures gaseous components in the air in real time.

Skills and experience

Preference will be given to students with a background in chemical/physical sciences. Students with an interest in mass spectrometry and analysis of large datasets. If interest is expressed into furthering the study towards and honors or masters/PhD project training will be provided on the aerosol sampling equipment that will enable the student to participate in one of the voyages in the Southern Ocean and/or Antarctic.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.