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Climate change and ecosystem services

Forests; oceans; humans in forests; wetlands; globe;

Earth’s climate system is intimately associated with processes in the oceans, feedbacks with the biosphere and astronomical influences. Superimposed upon these interactions is the increasingly important role played by humans in modifying Earth’s radiative balance and other components of the Earth system through, for example, nutrient enrichment and land use change. Our research seeks to monitor and quantify climate related change for a range of Earth’s systems, while increasing predictive capability through the development of Earth system models of intermediate complexity. These models are informed by proxies of past environmental change and are integrated with economic models so that the services ecosystems offer to humans may be quantified. Investigations into other aspects of ecosystem services are also carried out at a more local scale, including assessments of the carbon contained within ecosystems and the flood-alleviation potential of river floodplain meadows. There is a strong focus on quantifying exchanges of elements between various ecosystem reservoirs.

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) or an appropriate first degree and postgraduate qualification

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of climate change, ecosystem services and environmental science. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available for a 2018 start will become available towards the end of 2017.

Please also see further opportunities.

Current/recent research projects

  • The contribution of trees to ecosystem greenhouse-gas budgets
  • Ecosystems services of floodplain meadows
  • Integrating models of intermediate complexity with economic models
  • Ecosystem services of pollinators
  • Dynamic vegetation modelling
  • Fluvial carbon losses in tropical peatlands responding to deforestation and fire

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Michelle Aitken
+44 (0)1908 332943

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.