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What is the contribution of tropical African wetlands to the atmospheric CH4 budget?

Project Description

Our understanding of the observed global-scale variations of atmospheric methane (CH4) is incomplete. A period (2000-2007) of near-zero atmospheric growth in CH4 was immediately followed by one of sustained growth, which continues to present-day.

Tropical wetlands represent a significant natural source of the overall CH4 budget and its atmospheric variability, driven on broad scales by changes in water table depth and temperature. However, wetland CH4 emission estimates vary in magnitude and distribution (Saunois et al., 2016; Bloom et al, 2017), reflecting a lack of data over the region. It is therefore important we understand how these wetlands respond to contemporary changes in climate so we can improve our ability to predict how they will respond to future climate change. Recent work has revealed a multi-year expansion of the Sudd wetlands in South Sudan, due to increased water inflow from upstream catchments, is responsible for a regional increase in CH4 emissions that equates to a third of the observed global increase in atmospheric CH4 (Lunt et al, 2019). The Sudd is not alone in experiencing large-scale changes, but other tropical African wetlands are less well understood.

In this project, you will new, fine-scale satellite observations of atmospheric CH4, hydrology and land surface properties to investigate the underlying controls of wetland emissions over different parts of tropical Africa. You will use a combination of the JULES land surface scheme (Clark et al, 2011) and the GEOS-Chem atmospheric transport model (http://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/geos/) to address four specific objectives:

1) Is the magnitude and distribution of JULES CH4 emissions over tropical Africa consistent with atmospheric remote sensing data?
2) What role does local and upstream precipitation play in describing hydrological controls of CH4 emissions over major tropical African wetland regions?
3) How can we use the atmospheric data to optimize CH4 emissions in JULES?
4) Does the optimized version of JULES improve its predictive capability?

For further details: https://www.ed.ac.uk/e4-dtp/how-to-apply/our-projects?item=481

Funding Notes

E4 DTP studentships are fully-funded for a minimum of 3.5 years. They include:

* Stipend based on RCUK minima (currently £15,009 for 2019/2020)
* Fees (Home/EU Fees)
* Research Costs (Standard Research Costs plus, depending on the projects requirements, Additional Research Costs can also be allocated)

The stipend can be extended to up to another 5 months through our two optional schemes - see View Website.

The CASE partner for this project is the Met Office. The CASE supervisor is Dr Nichola Gedney: View Website.


* Bloom, et al.: https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-10-2141-2017, 2017.
* Clark, et al.: https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-4-701-2011, 2011.
* Lunt, et al: https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-477, in review, 2019
* Saunois, et al: https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-8-697-2016, 2016.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 104.98

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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