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Carbon fluxes along environmental and altitudinal gradients in the Colombian Andes (CENTA2-SGGE4-BERR)

Project Description

Studies on carbon fluxes (CO2 and CH4) and forest biomass along the Amazonian-Andean slopes located north of the equator are non-existent. The majority of research efforts have been focused in locations south of the equator, making difficult to account for regional comparison of carbon fluxes and forest biomass on both sides of the equator. The importance of lowland tropical rainforest in carbon dynamics and forest biomass is relatively well studied (Araujo-Murakami et al., 2014; Malhi et al., 2015). The neighbouring area of the Amazonian-Andean slopes has recently received some attention and initial data on plant diversity and forest biomass have been produced. However, these initial studies have also been focused on sites located south of the equator e.g. Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador (Girardin et al., 2014). A similar study north of the equator has yet to be conducted. The extensive band of Amazon-Andean forest on both sides of the equator forms part of the orographic encroachment and contributes to the control of easterly air masses and precipitation which promotes high biodiversity (Ter Steege et al., 2003). The region is, in several parts, under threat by extensive agriculture and yet little is known about carbon fluxes, forest biomass and species composition.
Recent research conducted in the Peruvian Andes has demonstrated some minor variation in the above ground net primary productivity (NPP) along the altitudinal gradient as a result of elevation and variation in respiration within different forest types (Marthews et al., 2012). In South America, a strong seasonal variation in rainfall is driven by the mean annual position of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) that creates a warmer effect towards the northern hemisphere causing a strong energy flux across the equator (Schneider et al., 2012). Such ITCZ-driven seasonality may contribute to the generation of feedbacks in carbon pools and climate at regional scales (e.g. in the Amazon basin) especially in anomalously dry periods and during strong El Niño events (Doughty et al., 2015). Therefore, in order to have a more accurate estimation the regional carbon fluxes (CO2 and CH4) along Amazon-Andean gradients in South America, there is a need for new data to complete models of carbon fluxes and biomass estimations for the complete Amazonian-Andean area from Peru-to-Colombia.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


Araujo-Murakami, A. et al. (2014) The productivity, allocation and cycling of carbon in forests at the dry margin of the Amazon forest in Bolivia. Plant Ecology & Diversity 7, 55-69.

Doughty, C.E et al. 2015. Drought impact on forest carbon dynamics and fluxes in Amazonia. Nature 519, 78–82.

Girardin, C.A.J. et al. (2014) Spatial patterns of above-ground structure, biomass and composition in a network of six Andean elevation transects. Plant Ecology & Diversity 7, 161-171.

Malhi, Y. et al. (2015) The linkages between photosynthesis, productivity, growth and biomass in lowland Amazonian forests. Global Change Biology 21, 2283-2295.

Marthews, T.R. et al. (2012) Simulating forest productivity along a neotropical elevational transect: temperature variation and carbon use efficiency. Global Change Biology 18, 2882–2898.

Schneider, T. et al. (2012) Migrations and dynamics of the intertropical convergence zone. Nature 513, 45–53.

Senior, C.A., et al. (2016) Idealized climate change simulations with a high-resolution physical model: HadGEM3-GC2. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 8, 813-830.

Ter Steege, H. et al. (2003) A spatial model of tree α-diversity and tree density for the Amazon. Nature 12, 2255–2277.

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