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Evaluating plant level eco-evolutionary optimality approaches in the context of land-surface modelling

University of Reading - Geography & Environmental Science, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Reading
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Tuition fees plus stipend for 3.5 years
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 29th June 2022
Closes: 31st August 2022
Reference: GS22-101
 

Project title:  Evaluating plant level eco-evolutionary optimality approaches in the context of land-surface modelling

Department/School: Geography & Environmental Science, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science

Supervisors:  Professor Sandy Harrison, Professor Pier-Luigi Vidale, Professor I. Colin Prentice

Project Overview: The terrestrial biosphere plays a critical role in regulating water, energy and carbon exchanges between the land surface and the atmosphere, and vegetation is therefore a crucial component of the land-surface scheme in climate models. Although vegetation and land-surface models have become increasingly complex as they incorporate new processes, systematic errors and persistently large differences among carbon and water cycle projections by different models highlight the limitations of their current process formulations. Eco-evolutionary optimality theory provides a basis for developing hypotheses about the controls of key processes at leaf and plant level and thus is providing simple but robust formulations of these processes. Initial tests of these formulations suggests that they provide a parsimonious way of simulating vegetation in a land-surface modelling framework. The goal of this project is to implement eco-evolutionary optimality formulations of photosynthesis and primary production, dark respiration and stomatal behaviour within the JULES land-surface scheme of the UK Earth System Model, including explicitly differentiating the timescales of acclimation to environmental factors. The project will include comparing the performance of these new formulations against the existing version of JULES using field and experimental data, flux tower measurements and remote-sensing products. The PhD project is part of and funded by the "Land Ecosystem Models based On New Theory, obseRvations, and ExperimEnts" (LEMONTREE) project.

Specific training opportunities

  • An understanding of theoretical developments in plant physiology and ecology
  • An understanding of land-surface modelling and the role of the land surface in climate and carbon cycling
  • Modelling skills through implementing new components in the JULES land-surface scheme
  • Statistical, analytical and programming skills through the manipulation and analysis of field and remotely-sensed data sets for model evaluation
  • Science communication skills including communication across disciplines and to policy-oriented stakeholders.

The project is designed as a thesis-by-papers. The student will be based in Reading but will be funded by the "Land Ecosystem Models based On New Theory, obseRvations, and ExperimEnts" (LEMONTREE) project and will have the opportunity to work closely with the international members of that project, including staff at UKMO. The student will be expected to take part in LEMONTREE science meetings and working groups, as well as presenting their work at appropriate international conferences. 

Eligibility: 

  • Applicants should hold a 1st or upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) in quantitative biology, environmental science or meteorology.
  • Good quantitative & analytical skills required
  • Experience in programming (R, Fortran, Python) essential
  • Open to applicants worldwide

Funding Details:  

  • Tuition fees plus stipend for 3.5 years. 
  • Starts no later than October 2022.

How to apply:   

Please submit an application for a PhD in Environmental Science at Apply for a programme quoting the reference GS22-101 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding section.

Application Deadline:  31th August 2022

Further Information:  

https://www.reading.ac.uk/graduate-school/doctoral-opportunities/how-to-apply

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. 

 

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