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Top thesis prize for a Southampton marine geophysics researcher

Dr Sudipta Sarkar from Ocean and Ea

Top thesis prize for a Southampton marine geophysics researcher Dr Sudipta Sarkar from Ocean and Earth Science has won a top prize for the best doctoral thesis of the year in geophysics. The Royal Astronomical Society, Keith Runcorn prize of £1,000 was open to students throughout the UK. He has worked on the effects of ocean warming on gas hydrates in shallow waters off west Svalbard in the Arctic.

Top thesis prize for a Southampton marine geophysics researcher Dr Sudipta Sarkar from Ocean and Earth Science has won a top prize for the best doctoral thesis of the year in geophysics. The Royal Astronomical Society, Keith Runcorn prize of £1,000 was open to students throughout the UK. He has worked on the effects of ocean warming on gas hydrates in shallow waters off west Svalbard in the Arctic.

Gas hydrates are crystalline solids which store methane within molecular cages of ice. These natural hydrates, which are found in marine and permafrost environments around the world, may prove to be a new energy source. However, scientists are interested in learning how they form, interact with surrounding sediments and may affect the environment if they are extracted.
Analysing data from a scientific voyage to Svalbard in 2008, Sudipta has found evidence that increasing ocean temperatures in the past three decades may have caused the hydrates to separate into methane and water. “If we know more about the effect of rising ocean temperatures, it may help us understand the fate of marine hydrates and their role in contemporary climate change,” he says.

While at Southampton, Sudipta sailed on research cruises to Arctic waters, the Caribbean and the seas around New Zealand and also took part in a study visit to Germany. He chose to study for his PhD at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS) after recommendations from academic colleagues. Sudipta studied for a bachelors degree in geology at the University of Calcutta and a masters in remote sensing geology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks before enrolling for his PhD. He is now moving to Germany for a postdoctoral research position in marine geosciences at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel.

His supervisor, Tim Minshull, Professor of Ocean and Earth Science at NOCS says: "I am very pleased that Sudipta's hard work and willingness to move into new fields of science have been recognised by this national award."

For more information please visit The Royal Astronomical Society   

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