Academic Year 2023-2024
Institution Queen's University, Belfast


School: School of Natural and Built Environment

Project: Arctic peatland response to climate change: carbon bomb or self- repair?

Supervisors: Graeme Swindles, Dmitri Mauquoy & Donal Mullan

Undergraduate Education: BSc Geography, Queen’s University Belfast

Postgraduate Education: MSc Environmental Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast

Research: This research project will focus on changes in Arctic peatland dynamics, particularly regarding their significant carbon store, as a result of climate change and associated permafrost thaw. Permafrost peatlands contain approximately 227 Pg of carbon, equivalent to 14% of the global soil carbon store, which has been rendered effectively inert due to frozen soil conditions. However, with estimated increases in global mean surface temperatures of between 0.3 and 4.8 °C by the end of the 21st century, which is predicted to be greater in Arctic regions, this leaves this carbon store vulnerable to repaid decomposition due to widespread permafrost thaw. This has huge implications for global warming potential as a result of a potential increase in greenhouse carbon gas fluxes (methane and carbon dioxide) to the atmosphere; which is rarely considered in current climate simulation models. Therefore, it is essential that a thorough understanding of this climate feedback system is understood.


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