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Droughts, Fires and Climate Induced-Shifts of the Amazon Tropical Forests (CENTA2-SGGE3-ESPI)

Project Description

In 2019, at least 125,000 hectares, equivalent to 172,000 soccer fields, were burned in the entire Brazilian Amazon ( The majority of these fire occurrences were observed in the northern state of Amazonas, which alone accounted for 39,100 hectares, or about 30 percent of the total cleared-and-burned areas. Significant deforested-and-burned lands were also detected in the northern states of Rondônia and Pará, where fire hotspots were also prominent in August. However, although most of these fires relate to slash-and-burn agriculture, droughts from previous El Niño events may increase the occurrence of forest fires (McDowell et al., 2018). The combination of land-use activities and El Niño events between 2015 and 2016 in Central Amazon resulted in large wildfire areas around of the Tapajos National Forest (Fig. 1).

Tropical fires represent one of the largest net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere, as well as impacting local and regional air quality (Cochrane et al., 2003). Given that average global temperatures are projected to rise between 1.4 and 5.8°C over the next century, it is likely that small scales of tropical forest fires will undergo dramatic changes in the future (Chen et al., 2011). While land-use and climate models that inform the IPCC have progressed markedly since the late 1980s, the response of tropical fires to climate change is a notable missing process (Poulter et al., 2010). Currently, future tropical forest fire scenarios follow predetermined spatial patterns rather than explicitly responding to the climate changing around them, and there is no feedback between, say, CO¬2 emissions and climate change.

Although there exists a large dataset from remote sensing for tropical forest fires, these remain underexploited for investigating the relationship of fires to climate change. This project will address this knowledge gap and provide new ways to evaluate and develop land surface models. The study will focus on the Brazilian Amazon, where several rainforest areas were burned in 2019, resulting in a severe loss of trees.

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.

Related Subjects

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