Centre for Doctoral Training 2019 call

Closing date (Outline proposals): 16:00 on 25 April 2019

Closing date (Full proposals): 16:00 on 8 August 2019

NERC invites proposals for a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) specialising in the priority area of Earth observation: Data for Earth systems.

Funding for eight studentships will be awarded per annum for three years of new student intake (24 studentships in total) from the start of the academic year 2020-21. An expectation of the CDT is that NERC funding will be used to leverage additional investment (either cash or in-kind support) from multiple stakeholders.

Earth observation (EO) uses measurements from satellites, aircraft, drones and ground-based instruments to monitor and assess the natural and human environment and its dynamics. EO is becoming increasingly sophisticated with the deployment of new satellites and development of instruments. Not only are data more accessible and voluminous, but the combination of high signal quality, high temporal frequency and high spatial resolution is unprecedented and game changing to the scientific community. The UK, largely through the European Space Agency (ESA), is at the forefront of major EO advances such as the Copernicus programme; Sentinel-1 in particular has set a high benchmark for future satellite radars. The ESA open data policy strongly encourages scientific and commercial exploitation of the data.

Current satellite systems, including Copernicus satellites, promise long (multi-decadal) global, comparable, time series of data essential for understanding global environmental change, including climate change, as well as providing the foundations for operational and commercial services. Upcoming satellite missions such as Biomass, Surface Water Ocean Topography and MicroCARB will enable the continuity of these data and allow critical gaps in our understanding of the Earth's system to be addressed.

Climate is a particular focus for this call and applicants should use both current and future satellite missions as a basis for formulating CDT proposals. EO is an important tool in helping us to understand and predict future climate change. Upcoming satellite missions will generate new data for climate science. In order to maximise the long-term usage of data from these, it is crucial to develop researchers who have the relevant skills and expertise to understand, manage and utilise the data.

It is through collaborative science across land, ocean, atmosphere and climate that the next generation digital environment will be developed. The primary data sources for these will be satellite data from Copernicus and wider EO platforms; the skills set is required now for NERC scientists to understand this data and gain both knowledge and products from it.

The successful CDT will be expected to demonstrate their ability to mitigate against potential changes in respect to satellite and data access through the EU and should seek to inform the students of the issues and implications of the potential or actual changes, such that the community is best placed to maintain its leading role going forward.

How to apply

There is a two-stage application process for this call.

Outline proposal applications must use the form provided below and be submitted by email to . The closing date for outline proposals is 16:00 on 25 April 2019.

Outline proposal form (Word, 81KB)

Following an outline assessment panel, successful outline applications will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Full proposal applications using the form provided below must be submitted via the research councils' Joint electronic-Submission system (Je-S). The deadline for submission of full proposals is 16:00 on 8 August 2019.

Full proposal form (Word, 52KB)

Please see the Announcement of Opportunity document below for full details of this call.

Announcement of Opportunity (PDF, 285KB)

Background to NERC CDTs

NERC is developing a portfolio of CDTs to complement the Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) scheme. CDTs support strategically targeted, focused PhD studentships aimed at addressing specific research and skills gaps identified by NERC, our partners and the wider community.

In October 2013, in recognition of the importance of focused training, NERC Council agreed additional funding for the NERC CDT portfolio to allow the establishment of at least one CDT per year.

The focus of each NERC CDT call is informed by the CDT commissioning framework. This framework is in place to ensure that decision-making concerning NERC CDT focus areas continues to be robust and evidence-based, informed by a broad range of evidence and clearly linked with the objectives of the CDT programme. It also makes the process by which evidence submissions are considered for CDT investment more transparent. Further information concerning the CDT commissioning framework is available on the commissioning framework page.

For further information about this initiative, please contact .