School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Victoria University Scholarships

Many scholarships are available for students at Victoria University, through the Scholarships Office.  

The office maintains the Scholarships Database, a comprehensive searchable database listing all available scholarships with criteria, value, tenure and closing dates. Most application forms can be downloaded from this database. For best results when searching the database, keep the search terms broad. 

The office also welcomes enquiries from students and staff. Please contact us by email or drop in to 10 Kelburn Parade between 8.00am and 4.30pm.


The School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences' Scholarships

  • Master scholarship: Reconstructing Wellington fossil fuel CO2 emissions from tree rings 

Reconstructing Wellington fossil fuel CO2 emissions from tree rings

Location: GNS Science National Isotope Centre in Gracefield, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Duration:   2 years

Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion are the dominant driver of atmospheric CO2 increases and the current observed global warming. Urban areas contribute 75% of global fossil CO2 emissions with contributions from vehicle use, industry and electricity generation, and urban areas are leading the way in reducing emissions through planning and local regulation. For example, increasing public transport availability decreases private vehicle use and reduces fossil CO2 emissions. Detailed information on current and past emissions is needed to help urban areas make decisions on the best strategies for reducing their emissions. Measuring current CO2 emissions accurately is not easy - but finding out what they were in the past is even more difficult.

This project aims to reconstruct fossil fuel CO2 concentrations in the Wellington atmosphere from the 1920s until present, using measurements of the radiocarbon content of tree rings collected in and around Wellington. The radiocarbon content of CO2 is then used to determine fossil fuel CO2 concentrations. We expect to see increases in the fossil CO2 concentration associated with the increase in fossil CO2 emissions through time.

The successful candidate will be part of a team developing this exciting new method for reconstructing past CO2 emissions. The Masters project will involve preparing and measuring tree ring samples for radiocarbon content, and interpreting and writing up the results. There is potential to include some laboratory method development, improving the tree ring sample preparation methods. The project may involve field work in Wellington collecting tree cores. Interpretation of the results requires strong data analysis skills, at minimum a strong grasp of Excel is needed and the student will be expected to know or learn a scientific programming package such as MatLab. Data analysis will include comparison of the observational results with atmospheric transport models, and may require some modelling work. In addition to completing the thesis requirements, the student will be expected to present their research at a conference and submit a publication on the results.

The successful candidate will receive an annual stipend (amount to be negotiated depending on experience). The research project and lab work will be based at the GNS Science National Isotope Centre in Gracefield, Lower Hutt. The successful candidate will be expected to work onsite at Gracefield when not participating in university classes. The student may be expected to contribute to related research projects at GNS beyond the scope of the thesis work. We will consider students who are beginning either their first or second year of a Masters program. Start date in early 2015.

Enquiries and applications including current CV should be submitted by email to: Dr Jocelyn Turnbull GNS Science (04) 570 4726

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