March 2018
Message 79

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[Met-jobs] Funded PhD studentship at Lancaster Environment Centre

From "Ashworth, Kirsti" <>
To "" <>
Date Mon, 26 Mar 2018 15:33:03 +0000

PhD studentship: "Evaluating the response of forest ecosystems to future climate and air quality change", Lancaster University, UK

For millennia, humans have looked to forests to provide food, fuel and shelter. Now, in the Anthropocene, we have also come to rely on the world’s forests to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, slowing the rate of climate change. Trees also remove harmful air pollutants, such as ozone, improving air quality and reducing the impacts on human health. The interactions between the atmosphere and vegetation are complex and fascinating, but remain poorly understood. There are indications that the rate at which forests cleanse the atmosphere is slowing, suggesting climate and air quality could deteriorate rapidly in the future.

In this project, you will measure rates of photosynthesis and growth together with levels of carbon dioxide and air pollutants in two oak forests with very different growing conditions: the first, near Birmingham, where summers are cool and relatively moist and air quality is moderate; the second, near Rome, where conditions are hotter and drier, and air quality more variable. Differences in soil water availability at these contrasting sites may affect canopy gas exchange and pollutant removal. Excitingly, the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research has an area where trees are growing under concentrations of carbon dioxide that we can expect to see in 50 years’ time. This facility provides a unique opportunity to see first-hand how the rate of removal of carbon dioxide and pollutants might change.

You will incorporate these field measurements into a computer model to investigate how the world’s forests will respond to future changes in climate and air quality, and the extent to which we can continue to rely on them.

You should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Natural or Environmental Science, or a related discipline. Experience of atmospheric measurements, processing and analysis of field data would be desirable but are not essential as full training and support will be given. Enthusiasm, self-motivation, curiosity and the ability to communicate to a range of audiences would all be distinctly advantageous.

Funding is available to cover UK/EU tuition fees and tax-free stipend. The deadline for applications is 13th April 2018 with interviews scheduled early to mid-May. The studentship would commence summer/autumn 2018. Further information about the project and how to apply are available at

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