About the Project
Global Systems Institute, Streatham Campus, Exeter
The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded by the A. G. Leventis Foundation to commence in September 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.
The combined effects of a hotter and drier climate and land-use is making forests more susceptible to fire, resulting in forest degradation that is increasing the loss of carbon and diversity across Amazonia.
The PhD candidate will address two research priorities: i) using novel satellite data to quantify tropical forest degradation and carbon stocks; and ii) understanding biome-scale indicators of resilience in the Amazon. The PhD student will work to realise the value of new remote sensing products, including new satellite-based radar instruments (BIOMASS, NISAR) and NASA’s GEDI lidar data for mapping tropical forest degradation and quantifying carbon stocks. These data will be validated against fine-resolution field data that, COVID-permitting, the student collect in collaboration with local students and researchers at existing and newly established forest monitoring plots with varying degrees of degradation (e.g., selective logging) and recovery spanning years to decades. The student will help to develop new approaches required to integrate complimentary products from multiple sensors to provide highly detailed ongoing observations of changing biomass across the tropics.
In addition to accurately estimating forest biomass at snapshots in time, it is critical to understand how forest structure and biomass are changing in response to current stresses, and how they will change in the future. The student will use approaches developed by Professor Tim Lenton’s team to investigate spatial data from satellite observations, in order to understand how resilience varies at landscape scales as a result of vegetation structure, anthropogenic activity, and climate variability.
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