PhD Studentship: Understanding Vegetation Response To Fire During Glacial and Interglacial States.

University of Reading - Geography and Environmental Science, SAGES

Supervisor: Professor Sandy Harrison

Project Overview:

Fire is highly sensitive to changes in climate, which impacts both on fuel availability and on the suitability of conditions allowing fire spread. Changes in fire regime in turn affect vegetation structure and dynamics, and both changes in fire itself and fire-induced changes in vegetation have feedbacks through the carbon cycle on climate. However, the magnitude of these feedbacks is as yet poorly constrained. The goal of this project is to explore how fire has changed during past climate states, how this has impacted on vegetation, and how these changes may have affected the carbon cycle using sedimentary charcoal records of past fire regime, advanced statistical analysis, and fire modelling tools. The project will draw on an existing global compilation of sedimentary charcoal records (Global Charcoal Database) to analyse the controls on fire in warm, interglacial and cold glacial climates over the past 130,000 years. Model simulations using a fire-enabled vegetation model, LPX, will be used to explore the potential causes of these changes and their implications for fire emissions and carbon-cycle feedbacks.


The ideal candidate for this project would have a Masters in an appropriate science, good programming and numerical skills, an understanding of the mechanisms of past climate change, and an interest in applying palaeoclimate information to improve our understanding of biosphere dynamics. Good team and communication skills are essential.

Funding Details:  

This PhD position is fully-funded by the ERC project “GC2.0: Unlocking the past for a clearer future”

How to apply:

Please submit an application for a PhD in Environmental Science at: quoting the reference GS17-204 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding section.

Application Deadline: 

31st October 2017

Further Enquiries:  


NB: Where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter which is provided separately from any Offer of Admission and which is subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England