January 16, 2017

Plant-climate interactive feedbacks to peatland methane dynamics

Plant-climate interactive feedbacks to peatland methane dynamics 400 x 400 px

After remaining stable for almost a decade, methane (CH4) concentrations in the atmosphere have started to rise again since 2007. Increasing emissions from the warming high northern latitude wetlands are probably responsible for this observed rise in CH4. This is important since methane is a potent greenhouse gas, having a potential impact at least 25 times that of CO2. Understanding the effects of warming on greenhouse gas feedbacks to climate change therefore represents a major global challenge [1,2].

This project aims to investigate how climate warming and its interaction with specific peatland vegetation communities regulate landscape CH4 emissions. Of critical importance for this work is developing a deeper understanding of the microbial processes of CH4 oxidation and production under peatland vegetation. These processes co-exist in a variety of ratios leading to either net emission or consumption of CH4 at the soil-atmosphere interface. The challenge of this PhD is therefore to decouple these biological processes within the context of a previously established long-term peatland warming and vegetation manipulation experiment.

The successful student will be based at CEH in the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University. The student will have unrivalled access to the range of equipment and facilities across CEH and LU. This studentship is co-supervised by Dr Niall McNamara, Professor Nick Ostle (LU) and Dr Christina Biasi (University of Eastern Finland). As part of the work an internship will be made in Finland where relevant peatland biogeochemical research is on-going. A comprehensive training programme will be provided by both CEH and Lancaster University (see ENVISION DTP).

1. Winden J et al. Temperature-Induced Increase in Methane Release from Peat Bogs. PLoS ONE (2012).

2. Ward S et al. Warming effects on greenhouse gas fluxes in peatlands are modulated by vegetation composition. Ecology Letters (2013).

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Ecology, Natural Sciences, Biological Sciences.For further details please contact Dr Niall McNamara