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Forest Resilience and Compound Events (FoRCE) in a Changing Climate

Cranfield University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Milton Keynes
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Fully-funded studentship
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th November 2023
Closes: 10th January 2024
Reference: SWEE0236

This is an exciting PhD opportunity in collaboration with Forest Research, UK’s largest forestry and tree-related research agency, to assess the impact of compound climate and weather events on forests using remote sensing data, climate models, field surveys, data science and machine learning approaches. The project outputs will contribute to the development of new management strategies to mitigate forest damage and promote resilience in a changing climate. It is a fully funded NERC - CENTA PhD Studentship for 3.5 years. Successful home-fees-eligible candidates will receive an annual stipend, stipend, set at £17,668, plus full university fees and a research training support grant.

Forests are critical to the realisation of UK net-zero ambitions through carbon sequestration. However, these valuable ecosystems can suffer from catastrophic forest damage and disturbances, exacerbated by the increasing impacts from compound climate events in a changing climate. This can have a significant impact on ecosystem services, such as water filtration, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat. As our climate changes, the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as droughts, storms, heat waves and their joint occurrences (IPCC 2021), threatens forests profoundly. This, in turn, leads to various forms of forest damage, from disturbance to windthrow and tree mortality, triggering both ecological and economic implications. These multiple climatic phenomena can have a compounding effect when they coincide or follow in succession. The compounded effects can amplify vulnerabilities, making trees more susceptible to hazards like windthrow. A drought may set the stage for subsequent threats, or a sequence of droughts and storms may compromise forest resilience and amplify the spread of disease. The cumulative impact of compound events often surpasses the isolated influence of individual climate events, as underscored by recent research, such as Gazol et al. (2022), which highlighted the role of combined climate events, particularly hot and dry conditions, in accentuating tree drought mortality within European forests.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have at least a 2:1 at UK BSc level or at least a pass at UK MSc level or equivalent in a related discipline.

Funding

The project’s open to applicants who meet academic requirements (a 2:1 at UK BSc level or a pass at UK MSc level or equivalent). The grant covers fee costs for a Home award, unless you are eligible for such a Home award, you will need to consider how you will be able to meet any shortfall in funding for tuition fees.

How to apply

For further information:

Name: Dr Abdou Khouakhi

Email: a.khouakhi@cranfield.ac.uk 

T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: +44 (0) 1234 754487

Academic profile link: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/people/dr-abdou-khouakhi-26326359 

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