Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Warwick Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes

QUADRAT DTP: Dynamics of carbon capture in Scottish and Irish peatlands over the past centuries

School of Natural and Built Environment

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
Dr M Blaauw No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Because peatlands store and potentially release large amounts of carbon, predicting their role in future warming is essential (e.g., Gallego-Sala et al., 2018; Ferretto et al. 2019). The aim of this project is to quantify the carbon dynamics in near-pristine and damaged bogs over the past 4-5 centuries, and to assess possible relationships between carbon burial rates and environmental dynamics. Relationships between carbon accumulation, local vegetation and water tables in the bogs will be explored using plant macrofossil and testate amoebae analyses.

Robust chronologies are essential for reliable centennial-scale reconstructions of carbon accumulation within bogs. However, large natural and human-made changes in atmospheric C-14 content over the past 4-5 centuries cause imprecise chronologies, and current chronologies based on Pb-210 are inflexible and incapable of incorporating other dates. This project will be among the first to combine C-14, Pb-210 and microtephra dates through a newly published Bayesian alternative (Aquino et al., 2018), in order to produce enhanced, precise and more flexible chronologies with realistic uncertainty estimates.

Four peat profiles in Northern Ireland and Scotland will be investigated at high resolution in order to produce highly detailed time series of carbon accumulation spanning the past ~500 years. Together with existing contemporary monitoring of fluxes of CO2 and CH4 from bogs by the Hutton Institute, this will enable enhanced estimates of carbon fluxes to, within and from peatlands. By combining high-resolution C-14 and Pb-210 data, together with analysis of microtephras, we will for the first time be able to independently test the universally accepted assumption of a constant Pb-210 flux. If we find varying Pb-210 fluxes, then many existing Pb-210 chronologies are flawed. Thus this project could have implications for the role of peat bogs in carbon accumulation as well as for Pb-210 studies across the world.

The student will be required to undertake fieldwork on Scottish and Northern Irish bogs, perform laboratory analyses (C-14, Pb-210, microtephra, macrofossils, testate amoebae) and undertake some programming. Candidates should display a strong computational aptitude, and have experience in or be willing to learn the R or Python programming languages. Experience with palaeoecological fieldwork and laboratory techniques would be an advantage, and relevant training will be provided where required. More project details are available here:

How to apply:

Please note: applications should be submitted directly to QUADRAT and not to Queen’s University Belfast.

Funding Notes

QUADRAT studentships are open to UK and international candidates (EU and non-EU). Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend/research & training support grant only.

Before applying please check full funding and eligibility information:


Aquino Lopez, M.A., Blaauw, M., Christen, J.A., Sanderson, N., 2018. Bayesian analysis of 210Pb dating. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics 23, 317-333.

Gallego-Sala, AV., and 76 others, 2018. Latitudinal limits to the predicted increase of the peatland carbon sink with warming. Nature Climate Change, vol. 8, pp. 907-913.

Ferretto, A., Brooker, R., Aitkenhead, M., Matthews, R., Smith, P., 2019. Potential carbon loss from Scottish peatlands under climate change. Regional Environmental Change 19, 2101-2111.
Search Suggestions

Search Suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.