PhD studentship

Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Implications of Integrated Energy Security and Climate Change Mitigation Options for Scotland 


Funding Status: Competition Funded Project (European/UK students only) Application Deadline: 2nd January 2015

Supervisory Team: Dr. Matthew Saunders (The James Hutton Institute)

Prof. Jo Smith (University of Aberdeen)

Dr. Mike Perks (Forest Research)

Dr. Jagadeesh Yeluripati (The James Hutton Institute).

Project Description: The Scottish Government (SG) is committed to a significant reduction in national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 42%, increasing to 80%, relative to 1990 baseline emissions, by 2020 and 2050 respectively. In order to achieve this world-leading reduction in emissions, a suite of complementary mitigation options will be required across all sectors, including land use, which currently accounts for approximately 20% of the national GHG emissions. Better informed land management strategies are therefore required to mitigate climate change by maintaining and enhancing land-based carbon (C) stocks, reducing emissions of other radiatively important GHGs including methane and nitrous oxide and offsetting GHG emissions produced through conventional, fossil-fuel based energy sources. This project will focus on the carbon and GHG dynamics of peatland ecosystems and will include an assessment of the impacts of forest to bog restoration in addition to the role of integrated renewable energy options in offsetting national greenhouse gas emissions. The student will undertake an extensive programme of field based and controlled environment experimental research to measure C stocks and GHG emissions from a semi-natural peatland and an afforested peatland that is due to be felled and restored subsequent to the construction of an onshore wind farm. This work will be co-supervised by The James Hutton Institute, Forest Research and The University of Aberdeen and will make a significant contribution to better informing the development of rural land management policy, especially in relation to climate change mitigation, energy security and the wider contribution of these land classes to environmental and societal benefits.

The specific objectives of this project are:

1). To quantify the climate mitigation potential of peatland ecosystems in Scotland and to assess the role of inter-annual and long-term climatic variability on the time-dependent impacts of peatland restoration on both total ecosystem C stocks and GHG emission dynamics.

2). To derive, using a life-cycle assessment approach, a more accurate assessment of integrated land management options on national GHG emissions.

3). To use a model based approach to better understand the process based variables driving the GHG dynamics of semi-natural and restored peatlands systems, and to assess how these ecosystems will respond to future climatic scenarios in Scotland.

Funding Notes: The studentship is funded under the James Hutton Institute Joint PhD programme, in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen and Forest Research. Candidates are urged to apply as soon as possible so as to stand the best chance of success. A more detailed plan of the studentship is available to suitable candidates upon application. Funding is available for European applications, but Worldwide applicants who possess suitable self-funding are also invited to apply.

Application Enquiries: Candidates wishing to make either an informal enquiry about the studentship or to apply directly should email Dr. Matthew Saunders ( for further details/instructions.