Hey, my name is Dan Coathup and I am a 22-year-old student, originally from Newcastle. I have spent the last four years at the University of York, where I studied for an Integrated Masters in Environmental Geography. In October 2020, I will be starting a QUADRAT DTP in the School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen.

During my time at York, I completed my master’s thesis examining the developmental trajectory and drivers of long-term carbon accumulation of a peatland in the southern Pennines. I began this thesis after undertaking an internship as part of a wider research project that investigated the resilience to degradation of the site. My PhD project – Quantifying carbon accumulation and loss in Russian Arctic peatlands – follows on nicely from this.


Stratigraphic surveying on Ilkley Moor, during my internship


My project seeks to unravel the interlinkages between Russian peatlands and climate change over the Holocene. The project will examine how carbon accumulation rates, vegetation composition, water table depth, fire frequency and intensity, and the climate, have interacted on decadal, centennial and millennial timescales.

Why this project? Well, my brother began a PhD two years ago and I cannot be upstaged by him! All joking aside, this project will perform a vital function in understanding how climate change is likely to impact the major carbon store that is Russian peatlands. Peatlands worldwide are the largest terrestrial carbon store, with an estimated 188Gt stored in Russian peatlands, and may represent a damaging positive feedback to climate warming. Russia is a relatively understudied region, relative to its vast expanse of peatlands, and therefore it is vital to understand how a warming climate, shifting rainfall patterns and increased human disturbances may impact this.

Away from science, I am a big Newcastle United fan (how depressing) and a very keen footballer. I have played for the University of York Football Club for the last four years and for my college side there. I hope I have the time to do similar whilst I am in Aberdeen.

With my DTP I am excited to learn new techniques, including reconstructing past water table depths with testate amoebae, constructing age-depth models, analysing plant macrofossils and the relatively novel use of Raman spectroscopy in peatlands. I am also very excited to travel to Russia and live in Aberdeen, getting to be close to such incredible landscapes and geomorphology.

Playing for Langwith College FC against Greys College, Durham University, in College Varsity


Playing for University of York FC against Lancaster University, in Roses