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Dr. Matthew Saunders
Assistant Professor, Botany

Biography

My background is in Environmental Science, where from my undergraduate days I have had a strong interest in the fields of climate change, sustainable development and role that plants play in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. I have worked on the tolerance of commercial crop cultivars to salt stress, the impacts of land use, management intensity and land use change on food, fuel and fiber production, in addition to investigating the role of terrestrial ecosystems in atmospheric warming and/or cooling by assessing the carbon and greenhouse gas dynamics of these systems.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Ruchita Ingle, Saheba Bhatnagar, Bidisha Ghosh, Laurence Gill, Shane Regan, John Connolly and Matthew Saunders, Development of Hybrid Models to Estimate Gross Primary Productivity at a Near-Natural Peatland Using Sentinel 2 Data and a Light Use Efficiency Model, Remote Sensing, 15, 2023, p1673- Journal Article, 2023 URL TARA - Full Text

Ruchita Ingle, Wahaj Habib, John Connolly, Mark McCorry, Stephen Barry & Matthew Saunders, Upscaling methane fluxes from peatlands across a drainage gradient in Ireland using PlanetScope imagery and machine learning tools., Nature Scientific Reports, 13, (11997), 2023 Journal Article, 2023

The 2018 European heatwave led to stem dehydration but not to consistent growth reductions in forests, Roberto L. Salomón 1,2,60, Richard L. Peters1,3,60, Roman Zweifel 3, Ute G. W. Sass-Klaassen 4", Annemiek I. Stegehuis 5,6, Marko Smiljanic 7, Rafael Poyatos 8,9, Flurin Babst10,11, Emil Cienciala 12,13, Patrick Fonti 3, Bas J. W. Lerink 14, Marcus Lindner 5, Jordi Martinez-Vilalta 8,9, Maurizio Mencuccini 8,15, Gert-Jan Nabuurs 4,14, Ernst van der Maaten 16, Georg von Arx 3, Andreas Bär 17, Linar Akhmetzyanov 4, Daniel Balanzategui18,19, Michal Bellan 13,20, Jörg Bendix21, Daniel Berveiller22, Miroslav Blaženec 23, Vojt"ch "ada 6, Vinicio Carraro24, Sébastien Cecchini25, Tommy Chan 26, Marco Conedera 27, Nicolas Delpierre 22, Sylvain Delzon 28, "ubica Ditmarová 23, Jiri Dolezal29,30, Eric Dufrêne22, Johannes Edvardsson 31, Stefan Ehekircher32, Alicia Forner 33,34, Jan Frouz35, Andrea Ganthaler 17, Vladimír Gryc 36, Aylin Güney 37,38, Ingo Heinrich 18,19,39, Rainer Hentschel 40, Pavel Janda6, Marek Ježík 23, Hans-Peter Kahle 41, Simon Knüsel 27, Jan Krejza 13,20, "ukasz Kuberski 42, Ji"í Ku"era43, François Lebourgeois 44, Martin Mikoláš6, Radim Matula 6, Stefan Mayr 44, Walter Oberhuber 44, Nikolaus Obojes 45, Bruce Osborne 46,47, Teemu Paljakka 26, Roman Plichta 48, Inken Rabbel 49, Cyrille B. K. Rathgeber 3,44, Yann Salmon 26,50, Matthew Saunders 51, Tobias Scharnweber 7, Zuzana Sitková 52, Dominik Florian Stangler 41, Krzysztof Stere"czak 53, Marko Stojanovi" 13, Katarína St"elcová 54, Jan Sv"tlík13,20, Miroslav Svoboda6, Brian Tobin 47,55, Volodymyr Trotsiuk3,6, Josef Urban 48,56, Fernando Valladares34, Hanuš Vavr"ík 36, Monika Vejpustková 57, Lorenz Walthert 3, Martin Wilmking 7, Ewa Zin42,58, Junliang Zou 59 & Kathy Steppe 1", Nature Communications, 2023, p1 - 11 Journal Article, 2023

Alina Premrov, Matthew Saunders, Dara Stanley, Blanaid White, James C. Carolan, James Quirke, Mike Broderick, Kenneth Conroy, Jesko Zimmermann, Jane Stout, Insights into using HAIR2014 tool for estimating soil pesticide risks in Irish grasslands for selected herbicide active substances , 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Klara Finkele, Tamara Hochstrasser, Paul N.C. Murphy, Eve Daly, Caren Jarmain, Karl Richards, Owen Fenton, Thomas Cummins, Matthew Saunders, Paul M. Johnston, Michael Bruen, Kenneth A. Byrne, Declan T. Delaney, Rowan Fealy, Stuart Green, Suzanne Higgins, Natalya Hunter Williams, Gary Lanigan, Tim McCarthy, Ted McCormack, Per-Erik Mellander, Oliver Nicholson, Ciaran Nugent, Fiachra O'Loughlin, Brian Tobin, Pat Tuohy, Rebecca Whetton, The new Irish Soil Moisture Observation Network – ISMON: an Umbrella for Integrating Several Recent Soil Moisture Measurements Initiatives, 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Marine Valmier, Matthew Saunders, Gary Lanigan, Warmer autumn temperatures triple carbon losses from an Irish grassland on drained organic soil, 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

R.M. Murphy, K.G. Richards, D.J. Krol, A.W. Gebremichael, L. Lopez-Sangil, J. Rambaud, N. Cowan, G.J. Lanigan, M. Saunders, Assessing nitrous oxide emissions in time and space with minimal uncertainty using static chambers and eddy covariance from a temperate grassland, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 313, 2022, p108743 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Amey S. Tilak, Kenneth A. Byrne, A. Jonay Jovani-Sancho, Matthew Saunders, Seamus Hoyne, Quantifying moss moisture stresses in undrained, afforested and rewetted peatlands located in Republic of Ireland using laboratory measurements and computer modelling, Ecohydrology, 2022 Journal Article, 2022

Alina Premrov, Jesko Zimmermann, Marta Dondini, Stuart Green, Reamonn Fealy, Rowan Fealy, Marie-Laure Decau, Katja Klumpp, Gabriela Mihaela Afrasinei, Matthew Saunders, ECOSSE biogeochemical modelling of soil organic carbon from Irish grassland systems - challenges and opportunities, 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Rachael M. Murphy, Matthew Saunders, Karl G. Richards, Dominika J. Krol, Amanuel W. Gebremichael, James Rambaud, Nicholas Cowan, Gary J. Lanigan, Nitrous oxide emission factors from an intensively grazed temperate grassland: A comparison of cumulative emissions determined by eddy covariance and static chamber methods, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 324, 2022, p107725 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Richa Marwaha, Matthew Saunders, Monitoring of rehabilitation of a raised bog in Ireland using a machine learning model, 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Ruchita Ingle, Matthew Saunders, Carbon and Greenhouse gas dynamics at an industrial cutaway peatland, 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Roberto Luis Salomón, Richard L. Peters, Roman Zweifel, Ute Sass-Klaassen, Annemiek I. Stegehuis, Marko Smiljanic, Rafael Poyatos, Flurin Babst, Emil Cienciala, Patrick Fonti, Bas Lerink, Marcus Lindner, Jordi Martinez-Vilalta, Maurizio Mencuccini, Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Ernst van der Maaten, Georg von Arx, Andreas Bär, Linar Akhmetzyanov, Daniel Balanzategui, Michal Bellan, Jörg Bendix, Daniel Berveiller, Miroslav Blazenec, Vojt"ch "ada, Vinicio Carraro, Sébastien Cecchini, Tommy Chan, Marco Conedera, Nicolas Delpierre, Sylvain Delzon, "UBICA DITMAROVÁ, Jiri Dolezal, Eric Dufrêne, Johannes Edvardsson, Stefan Ehekircher, ALICIA FORNER SALES, Jan Frouz, Andrea Ganthaler, Vladimír Gryc, Aylin Güney, Ingo Heinrich, Rainer Hentschel, Pavel Janda, Marek Ježík, Hans-Peter Kahle, Simon, Jan Krejza, "ukasz Kuberski, Ji"í Ku"era, François Lebourgeois, The 2018 European heatwave led to stem dehydration but not to consistent growth reductions in forests, Nature Communications, 13, (1), 2022 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Matthew Saunders, Ruchita Ingle, Shane Regan, Assessing the impact of exceptional inter-annual climatic variability on rates of net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange at Clara bog., 2021 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Tamara Hochstrasser, Caren Jarmain, Klara Finkele, Paul Murphy, Owen Fenton, Karl Richards, Eve Daly, Matthew Saunders, Thomas Cummins, Rebecca Whetton, Fiachra O'Loughlin, Towards establishing an Irish National Soil Moisture Monitoring Network, 2021 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Rachael Murphy, Karl Richards, Dominika Krol, Amanuel Gebremichael, Luis Lopez-Sangil, James Rambaud, Nicholas Cowan, Gary Lanigan, Matt Saunders, Quantifying nitrous oxide emissions in space and time using static chambers and eddy covariance from a temperate grassland, 2021 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Alina Premrov, David Wilson, Matthew Saunders, Jagadeesh Yeluripati, Florence Renou-Wilson, Development of new drainage factor in ECOSSE model to improve water dynamics and prediction of CO2 fluxes from drained peatlands, 2021 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Marine Valmier, Matthew Saunders, Gary Lanigan, Greenhouse gas budget of an extensively managed grassland on drained peat soil in the Irish Midlands, 2021 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Alina Premrov, Jesko Zimmermann, Marta Dondini, Marie-Laure Decau, Stuart Green, Reamonn Fealy, Rowan Fealy, Matthew Saunders, Insights into ECOSSE modelling of soil organic carbon at site scale from Irish grassland sites and a French grazed experimental plot, 2021 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Cox P., Gill L.W., Regan S., Saunders M., Quantifying fluvial carbon losses from lowland peatland ecosystems across a drainage-impact spectrum, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19th-13th April 2021, EGU21-15719, 2021 Conference Paper, 2021 DOI

Ingle R., Bhatnagar S., Ghosh B., Gill L.W., Saunders M., Estimation of Gross Primary Productivity of a raised bog ecosystem using satellite models and eddy covariance techniques under exceptional climatic conditions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19th-13th April 2021, EGU21-13199, 2021 Conference Paper, 2021 DOI

Alina Premrov, David Wilson, Matthew Saunders, Jagadeesh Yeluripati, Florence Renou-Wilson, Insights into CO2 simulations from the Irish Blackwater peatland using ECOSSE model, 2020 Journal Article, 2020 DOI

Ana López-Ballesteros, Johannes Beck, Jörg Helmschrot, Matthew Saunders, Harmonised observations of climate forcing across Africa: an assessment of existing approaches and their applicability, Environmental Research Letters, 15, (7), 2020, p075003 Journal Article, 2020 DOI

Alina Premrov, Jesko Zimmermann, Stuart Green, Reamonn Fealy, Matthew Saunders, Insights into modelling of soil organic carbon from Irish grassland sites using ECOSSE model, 2020 Journal Article, 2020 DOI

Johannes Beck, Ana Lopez-Ballesteros, Wim Hugo, Robert Scholes, Matthew Saunders and Jorg Helmschrot. , Development of a Climate Forcing Observation System for Africa: Data-Related Considerations, Data Science Journal, 18, 2019, p1 - 11 Journal Article, 2019 TARA - Full Text

G. Hambley, R. Andersen, P. Levy, M. Saunders, N.R. Cowie, Y.A. Teh and T.C. Hill. , Net ecosystem exchange from two formerly afforested peatlands undergoing restoration in the Flow Country of northern Scotland, Mires and Peat, 23, 2019, p1 - 14 Journal Article, 2019

T R. Hodkinson, F. M. Doohan, M. J. Saunders and B. R. Murphy, Endophytes for a growing world. , Cambridge University Press, 2019, 1 - 420pp Book, 2019 URL

Swenson M., Regan S., Bremmers D.T.H., Lawless J., Saunders M., Gill L.W., Carbon balance of a restored and cutover bog: implications for restoration and comparison to global trends, Biogeosciences, 16, 2019, p713 - 731 Journal Article, 2019 DOI

K.J. Lees, T. Quaife, R.R.E. Artz, M. Khomik, M. Sottocornola, G. Kiely, G. Hambley, T. Hill, M. Saunders, N.R. Cowie, J. Ritson, J.M. Clark. , A model of gross primary productivity based on satellite data suggests formerly afforested peatlands undergoing restoration regain full photosynthetic capacity after five to ten years. , Journal of Environmental Management, 326, 2019, p594 - 604 Journal Article, 2019

Franz, D., Acosta, M., Altimir, N., Arriga, N., Arrouays, D., Aubinet, M., Aurela, M., Ayres, E., López-Ballesteros, A., Barbaste, M., Berveiller, D., Biraud, S., Boukir, H., Brown, T., Brümmer, C., Buchmann, N., Burba, G., Carrara, A., Cescatti, A., Ceschia, E., Clement, R., Cremonese, E., Crill, P., Darenova, E., Dengel, S., D'Odorico, P., Filippa, G., Fleck, S., Fratini, G., Fuß, R., Gielen, B., Gogo, S., Grace, J., Graf, A., Grelle, A., Gross, P., Grünwald, T., Haapanala, S., Hehn, M., Heinesch, B., Heiskanen, J., Herbst, M., Herschlein, C., Hörtnagl, L., Hufkens, K., Ibrom, A., Jolivet, C., Joly, L., Jones, M., Kiese, R., Klemedtsson, L., Kljun, N., Klumpp, K., Kolari, P., Kolle, O., Kowalski, A., Kutsch, W., Laurila, T., de Ligne, A., Linder, S., Lindroth, A., Lohila, A., Longdoz, B., Mammarella, I., Manise, T., Jiménez, S., Matteucci, G., Mauder, M., Meier, P., Merbold, L., Mereu, S., Metzger, S., Migliavacca, M., Mölder, M., Montagnani, L., Moureaux, C., Nelson, D., Nemitz, E., Nicolini, G., Nilsson, M. B., de Beeck, M., Osborne, B., Löfvenius, M., Pavelka, M., Peichl, M., Peltola, O., Pihlatie, M., Pitacco, A., Pokorný, R., Pumpanen, J., Ratié, C., Rebmann, C., Roland, M., Sabbatini, S., Saby, N..A., Saunders, M., Schmid, H., Schrumpf, M., Sedlák, P., Ortiz, P., Siebicke, L., igut, L., Silvennoinen, H., Simioni, G., Skiba, U., Sonnentag, O., Soudani, K., Soulé, P., Steinbrecher, R., Tallec, T., Thimonier, A., Tuittila, E., Tuovinen, J., Vestin, P., Vincent, G., Vincke, C., Vitale, D., Waldner, P., Weslien, P., Wingate, L., Wohlfahrt, G., Zahniser, M., & Vesala, T., Towards long-term standardised carbon and greenhouse gas observations for monitoring Europe's terrestrial ecosystems:a review., International Agrophysics, 32, 2018, p439 - 455 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Michael M. Swenson, Shane Regan, Dirk T. H. Bremmers, Jenna Lawless, Matthew Saunders, Laurence W. Gill, Supplementary material to "Carbon balance of a restored and cutover raised bog: Comparison to global trends", 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Ana López-Ballesteros, Johannes Beck, Antonio Bombelli, Elisa Grieco, Eli ka Krko ka Lorencová, Lutz Merbold, Christian Brümmer, Wim Hugo, Robert Scholes, David Vačkář, Alex Vermeulen, Manuel Acosta, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, Jörg Helmschrot, Dong-Gill Kim, Michael Jones, Veronika Jorch, Marian Pavelka, Ingunn Skjelvan and Matthew Saunders, Towards a feasible and representative pan-African research infrastructure network for GHG observations, Environmental Research Letters, 13, (8), 2018, p1-15 Journal Article, 2018 URL TARA - Full Text

Bert Gielen, Manuel Acosta, Nuria Altimir, Nina Buchmann, Alessandro Cescatti, Eric Ceschia, Stefan Fleck, Lukas Hörtnagl, Katja Klumpp, Pasi Kolari, Annalea Lohila, Denis Loustau, Sara Marañon-Jimenez, Tanguy Manise, Giorgio Matteucci, Lutz Merbold, Christine Metzger, Christine Moureaux, Leonardo Montagnani, Mats B. Nilsson, Bruce Osborne, Dario Papale, Marian Pavelka, Matthew Saunders, Guillaume Simioni, Kamel Soudani, Oliver Sonnentag, Tiphaine Tallec, Eeva-Stiina Tuittila, Matthias Peichl, Radek Pokorny, Caroline Vincke, and Georg Wohlfahrt. , Ancillary vegetation measurements at ICOS ecosystem stations. , International Agrophysics, 32, 2018, p645 - 664 Journal Article, 2018

David C. Walmsley, Jan Siemens, Reimo Kindler, Klaus Kaiser, Matthew Saunders, Andreas Fichtner, Martin Kaupenjohann, Bruce A. Osborne, Reduced nitrate leaching from an Irish cropland soil under non-inversion tillage with cover cropping greatly outweighs increased dissolved organic nitrogen leaching, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 265, 2018, p340 - 349 Journal Article, 2018

Chiwara, P., Ogutu, B.O., Dash. J., Milton, E.J., Ardo, J., Saunders, M., Nicolini, G., Estimating terrestrial gross primary productivity in water limited ecosystems across Africa using the Southampton Carbon Flux (SCARF) model, Science of the Total Environment, 630, 2018, p1472 - 1483 Journal Article, 2018

Saunders, M., Dengel, S., Kolari, P., Moureaux, C., Montagnani, L., Ceschia, E., Altimir, N., López-Ballesteros, A., Marańon-Jimenez, S., Acosta, M., Klumpp, K., Gielen, B., de Beeck, M., Hörtnagl, L., Merbold, L., Osborne, B., Grünwald, T., Arrouays, D., Boukir, H., Saby, N., Nicolini, G., Papale, D., Jones, M., Importance of reporting ancillary site characteristics, and management and disturbance information at ICOS stations., International Agrophysics, 2018, p457 - 469 Journal Article, 2018 DOI TARA - Full Text

Maarten Op de Beeck, Bert Gielen, Lutz Merbold, Edward Ayres, Penelope Serrano-Ortiz, Manuel Acosta, Marian Pavelka, Leonardo Montagnani, Mats Nilsson, Leif Klemedtsson, Caroline Vincke, Anne De Ligne, Christine Moureaux, Sara Marañon-Jimenez, Matthew Saunders, Simone Mereu, and Lukas Hörtnagl. , Soil-meteorological measurements at ICOS monitoring stations in terrestrial ecosystems. , International Agrophysics, 32, 2018, p619 - 631 Journal Article, 2018

Nemo, R., Klumpp, K., Coleman, K., Dondini, M., Goulding, K., Hastings, A., Jones, MB., Leifeld, J., Osborne, B., Saunders, M., Scot, T., Teh, YA., Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) Equilibrium and Model Initialisation Methods: an Application to the Rothamsted Carbon (RothC) Model, Environmental Modeling and Assessment, 22, 2017, p215 - 229 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Michael B Jones, Frank Kansiime, Matthew J Saunders, The potential use of papyrus (Cyperus papyrus L.) wetlands as a source of biomass energy for sub-Saharan Africa, Global Change Biology Bioenergy, 2016, pdoi: 10.1111/gcbb.12392 Journal Article, 2016 TARA - Full Text

Cerutti, PO., Sola, P., Chenevoy, A., Liyama, M., Yila, J., Zhou, W., Djoudi, H., Atyi, RA., Gautier, D., Gumbo, D., Kuehl, Y., Levang, P., Martius, C., Matthews, R., Nasi, R., Neufeldt, H., Njenga, M., Petrokofsky, G., Saunders, M., Sheperd, G., Sonwa, D., Sundberg, C., van Noordwijk, M., The socioeconomic and environmental impacts of wood energy chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic map protocol., Environmental Evidence, 4, (12), 2015, p1 - 7 Journal Article, 2015 TARA - Full Text DOI

Susan Waldron, Jagadeesh Yeluripati, Matthew Saunders, Anna Conniff, Steve Chapman, Dave Miller, Robin Matthews, Jo Smith, Sarah Govan, The Peatland Carbon Calculator Its use and future potential, ClimateXChange, 2015 Report, 2015 URL

Matthews, R., Smith, P., Smith, J., Ray, D., Perks, M., Slee, B., Saunders, M., The role of woodlands in meeting Scotland's greenhouse gas emission targets. In: Iason, G (Ed). Biodiversity in Woodland Ecosystems, The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, 2014, 24 Report, 2014

Saunders M.J, Kansiime F, Jones M.B, Reviewing the carbon cycle dynamics and carbon sequestration potential of Cyperus papyrus L. wetlands in tropical Africa, Wetlands Ecology and Management, 22, (2), 2014, p143 - 155 Journal Article, 2014 URL DOI

Benanti G, Saunders M, Tobin B, Osborne B, Contrasting impacts of afforestation on nitrous oxide and methane emissions, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 198-199, 2014, p82 - 93 Journal Article, 2014 URL DOI

Saunders, M., Perks, M., Slee, B., Ray, D., Matthews, R., Can silvo-pastoral systems contribute to Scotland's emission reduction targets? Policy briefing to the Scottish Government., Scotland., CimateXChange, 2014 Report, 2014

Artz, R., Saunders, M., Yeluripati, J., Potts, J., Elston, D., Chapman, S, An assessment of the proposed IPCC 2013 supplement to the 2006 guidelines: wetlands for the use of GHG accounting in Scottish peatlands., 2014 Report, 2014

Saunders M, Tobin B, Sweeney C, Gioria M, Benanti G, Cacciotti E, Osborne B.A, Impacts of exceptional and extreme inter-annual climatic events on the net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange of a sitka spruce forest, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 184, 2014, p147 - 157 Journal Article, 2014 URL DOI

Peichl M, Sonnentag O, Wohlfahrt G, Flanagan LB, Baldocchi DD, Kiely G, Galvagno M, Gianelle D, Marcolla B, Pio C, Migliavacca M, Jones MB, Saunders M, Convergence of potential net ecosystem production among contrasting C3 grasslands, Ecology Letters, 16, 2013, p502 - 512 Journal Article, 2013

Abdalla M, Saunders M, Hastings A, Williams M, Smith P, Osborne B, Lanigan G, Jones MB, Simulating the impacts of land use in Northwest Europe on Nat Ecosystem Exchange (NEE): The role of arable ecosystems, grasslands and forest plantations in climate change mitigation., Science of the Total Environment, 465, (1), 2013, 325-336 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Stoy P.C, Mauder M, Foken T, Marcolla B, Boegh E, Ibrom A, Arain M.A, Arneth A, Aurela M, Bernhofer C, Cescatti A, Dellwik E, Duce P, Gianelle D, van Gorsel E, Kiely G, Knohl A, Margolis H, Mccaughey H, Merbold L, Montagnani L, Papale D, Reichstein M, Saunders M, Serrano-Ortiz P, Sottocornola M, Spano D, Vaccari F, Varlagin A, A data-driven analysis of energy balance closure across FLUXNET research sites: The role of landscape scale heterogeneity, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 171-172, 2013, p137 - 152 Journal Article, 2013 DOI URL

Artz R.R.E, Chapman S.J, Saunders M, Evans C.D, Matthews R.B, Comment on "soil CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes from an afforested lowland raised peat bog in Scotland: Implications for drainage and restoration" by Yamulki et al. (2013), Biogeosciences, 10, (11), 2013, p7623 - 7630 Journal Article, 2013 URL DOI

Olajuyigbe S, Tobin B, Saunders M, Nieuwenhuis M, Forest thinning and soil respiration in a Sitka spruce forest in Ireland, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 157, 2012, p86 - 95 Journal Article, 2012 URL DOI

Saunders MJ, Kansiime F, Jones MB,, Agricultural encroachment: implications for carbon sequestration in tropical African wetlands, Global Change Biology, 18, (4), 2012, p1312 - 1321 Journal Article, 2012

Nicolau M, Saunders M, O'Neill M, Osborne B, Brabazon A, Evolving interpolating models of net ecosystem CO 2 exchange using grammatical evolution, 2012, - Miscellaneous, 2012 DOI URL

Saunders M, Tobin B, Black K, Gioria M, Nieuwenhuis M, Osborne B.A, Thinning effects on the net ecosystem carbon exchange of a Sitka spruce forest are temperature-dependent, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 157, 2012, p1 - 10 Journal Article, 2012 DOI URL

Walmsley D.C, Siemens J, Kindler R, Kirwan L, Kaiser K, Saunders M, Kaupenjohann M, Osborne B.A, Dissolved carbon leaching from an Irish cropland soil is increased by reduced tillage and cover cropping, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 142, (3-4), 2011, p393 - 402 Journal Article, 2011 DOI URL

Kindler, Reimo; Siemens, Jan; Kaiser, Klaus; Walmsley, David C.; Bernhofer, Christian; Buchmann, Nina; Cellier, Pierre; Eugster, Werner; Gleixner, Gerd; Grunwald, Thomas; Heim, Alexander; Ibrom, Andreas; Jones, Stephanie K.; Jones, Mike; Klumpp, Katja; Kutsch, Werner; Steenberg Larsen, Klaus; Lehuger, Simon; Loubet, Benjamin; McKenzie, Rebecca; Moors, Eddy; Osborne, Bruce; Pilegaard, Kim; Rebmann, Corinna; Saunders, Matthew; Schmidt, Michael W.I.; Schrumpf, Marion; Seyfferth, Janine; Skiba, Ute; Soussana, Jean-Francois; Sutton, Mark A.; Tefs, Cindy; Vowinckel, Bernhard; Zeeman, Matthias J.; Kaupenjohann, Martin, Dissolved carbon leaching from soil is a crucial component of the net ecosystem carbon balance, Global Change Biology, 17, (2), 2011, p1167-1185 Journal Article, 2011 TARA - Full Text

Eugster W, Moffat A.M, Ceschia E, Aubinet M, Ammann C, Osborne B, Davis P.A, Smith P, Jacobs C, Moors E, Le Dantec V, Béziat P, Saunders M, Jans W, Grünwald T, Rebmann C, Kutsch W.L, Czerný R, Janou- D, Moureaux C, Dufranne D, Carrara A, Magliulo V, Di Tommasi P, Olesen J.E, Schelde K, Olioso A, Bernhofer C, Cellier P, Larmanou E, Loubet B, Wattenbach M, Marloie O, Sanz M.-J, Søgaard H, Buchmann N, Management effects on European cropland respiration, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 139, (3), 2010, p346 - 362 Journal Article, 2010 URL DOI

Kutsch, W, Aubinet, M, Buchman, N, Smith, P, Osborne, B, Eugster, W, Wattenbach, M, Schrumpf, M, Schulze, E-D, Tomelleri, E, Ceschia, E, Bernhofer, C, Beziat, P, Carrara, A, Di Tommasi, P, Grunwald, T, Jones, M, Magliulo, V, Marloie, O, Moureaux, C, Olioso, A, Sanz, M, Saunders, M, Sogaard, H and Ziegler, W, The net biome production of full crop rotations in Europe., Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 139, 2010, p336 - 345 Journal Article, 2010

Jones, M., Osborne, B., Williams, M., Saunders, M., Burke, J., Davis, P., Abdalla, M., Clifton-Brown, J., Connolly, J., Kumar, S., Nagy, M., Accounting for greenhouse gas sources and sinks in major Irish land-use categories: towards the establishment of a Co-ordinating Centre for FLUX measurements (CCFLUX), EPA Ireland STRIVE report series, EPA, 2010 Report, 2010

Ceschia, E., Beziat, P., Dejoux, J. F., Aubinet, M., Berhofer, Ch., Bodson, B., Buchmann, N., Carrara, A., Cellier, P., Di Tommasi, P., Elbers, J. A., Eugster, W., Grunwald, T., Jacobs, C. M. J., Jans, W. W. P., Jones, M., Kutsch, W., Lanigan, G., Magliulo, E., Marloie, O., Moors, E., J., Moureaux, C., Olioso, A., Osborne, B., Sanz, M. J., Saunders, M., Smith, P., Soegaard, H. and Wattenbach, M. , Management effects on net ecosystem carbon and GHG budgets at European crop sites., Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 139, 2010, p363 - 383 Journal Article, 2010

Davis PA, Clifton Brown J, Saunders M, Lanigan G, Wright E, Fortune T, Burke J, Connolly J, Jones MB, Osborne B, Assessing the effects of agricultural management practices on carbon fluxes: Spatial variation and the need for replicated estimates of Net Ecosystem Exchange., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 150, 2010, p564 - 574 Journal Article, 2010

Moors E.J, Jacobs C, Jans W, Supit I, Kutsch W.L, Bernhofer C, Béziat P, Buchmann N, Carrara A, Ceschia E, Elbers J, Eugster W, Kruijt B, Loubet B, Magliulo E, Moureaux C, Olioso A, Saunders M, Soegaard H, Variability in carbon exchange of European croplands, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 139, (3), 2010, p325 - 335 Journal Article, 2010 DOI URL

Osborne, B., Saunders, M., Walmsley, D., Jones, M. and Smith, P., Key questions and uncertainties associated with the assessment of the cropland greenhouse gas balance., Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 139, 2010, p293 - 301 Journal Article, 2010

Smith, P., Lanigan, G., Kutsch, W. L., Buchmann, N., Eugster, W., Aubinet, M., Ceschia, E., Beziat, P., Yeluripati J. B., Osborne, B., Moors, E. J., Brut, A., Wattenbach, M., Saunders, M. and Jones, M., Measurements necessary for assessing the net ecosystem carbon budget of croplands., Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 139, 2010, p302 - 315 Journal Article, 2010

Albanito F., Saunders M. and Jones M.B., Automated diffusion chambers to monitor diurnal and seasonal dynamics of the soil CO2 concentration profile., European Jounal of Soil Science, 60, 2009, p507 - 514 Journal Article, 2009

Luyssaert S, Reichstein M, Schulze E.-D, Janssens I.A, Law B.E, Papale D, Dragoni D, Goulden M.L, Granier A, Kutsch W.L, Linder S, Matteucci G, Moors E, Munger J.W, Pilegaard K, Saunders M, Falge E.M, Toward a consistency cross-check of eddy covariance flux-based and biometric estimates of ecosystem carbon balance, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 23, (3), 2009 Journal Article, 2009 URL DOI

Saunders, M.J.,Jones, M.B. and Kansiime, F., Carbon and water cycles in tropical papyrus wetlands, Wetlands Ecology and Management, 15, 2007, p489 - 498 Journal Article, 2007

Kansiime F., Saunders M., Loiselle S., Functioning and dynamics of wetland vegetation of Lake Victoria: An overview, Wetlands Ecology and Management, 15, (6), 2007, p443-451 Journal Article, 2007 DOI

Tools for Wetland Ecosystem Resource Management in East Africa: Focus on the Lake Victoria Papyrus Wetlands. in, editor(s)J.T.A. Verhoeven, B. Beltman, R. Bobbink, and D.F. Whigham. , Wetlands and Natural Resource Management., Berlin, Springer, 2006, pp97 - 121, [Steven Loiselle, Andres Cozar, Anne van Dam, Frank Kansiime, Peter Kelderman, Matt Saunders and Silvio Simonit.] Book Chapter, 2006

Research Expertise

Description

I specialise in the field of plant and environment physiology, and my research focuses on the response of plants to changes in their physical, chemical and biological environments and how this information can be used to assess the resilience and adaptive capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to global environmental change. My work utilises an integrated experimental and model-based approach to assess the physiological and environmental processes that regulate plant productivity, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas dynamics, plant-water relations and energy budgets at the leaf, whole plant and ecosystem scale. Recent projects have focussed on the impacts of land use change, habitat restoration and extreme climatic events on carbon, water and nutrient dynamics in natural and agricultural ecosystems in both temperate and tropical climates. This work has directly contributed to the development of policy relevant, sustainable land management tools that are centred on the role of terrestrial ecosystems in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Projects

  • Title
    • Terrain Artificial Intelligence (Terrain-AI)
  • Summary
    • Population growth, demographic shifts, climate change and the need for increased food production are placing new and increased pressures and demands on our natural resources, highlighting the need for adopting more sustainable life-styles. Now, more than ever, we need high-quality, timely information about our farms, forests, natural wetlands and cities in order to better understand the interdependencies and interactions between the human activities and natural processes that create these complex environments. Terrain-AI will tackle this challenge through the innovative fusion of multi-thematic data-sources captured from spaceborne satellites, aerial/drone platforms, in-field instruments, in-situ sensor networks and mobile devices with existing databases, on land use and population, using highly automated Machine Learning workflows to extract terrestrial features, patterns and processes " essential to understanding and managing these environments. Integrated land-surface models, capable of handling uncertainty, will utilise these AI outputs together with land-cover type, biomass and environmental variables to produce improved estimates of Carbon Stocks and Exchanges. The big research opportunity here is building a state-of-the-art digital terrestrial monitoring and modelling platform based on Terrain-AI"s 14 instrumented real-world test-sites together with the latest Earth Observation, Robotics and Sensing technologies that will enable the collaborative research and development of scalable ML and integrated modelling workflows with a team of over 45 dedicated research specialists. There are big commercial and societal opportunities including, developing next generation digital Agri-tech products and services through to making real changes in how we manage Carbon on our farms, forests, peatlands and urban spaces, in support of sustainable land use.
  • Funding Agency
    • Science Foundation Ireland/Microsoft
  • Date From
    • 01/01/2021
  • Date To
    • 31/01/2023
  • Title
    • Smart observations of management impacts on peatland function.
  • Summary
    • The primary objective of this project is to develop an inter-disciplinary approach to assess the impact of anthropogenic management of peatlands, through drainage and land use conversion, on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. This project will utilise high-resolution hyperspectral and Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite based imagery to identify peatland land use and drainage extent, and combine this information with land-atmosphere and fluvial C/GHG emission measurements to derive a habitat condition and peatland drainage map that can be aligned to a GHG emission factor.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Date From
    • 2019
  • Date To
    • 2023
  • Title
    • Evaluating land-use and land management impacts on soil organic carbon in Irish agricultural systems.
  • Summary
    • Agriculture contributes over one-third of national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with the majority arising from livestock production. Both Food Wise 2025 and Origin Green initiatives aim to simultaneously increase agricultural production, whilst also reducing the carbon footprint and enhancing sustainability associated with that production. Conversely EU Climate and Energy Framework targets require a 30% reduction in emissions. Carbon (C) sequestration associated with pastures and improved grassland management could provide a mitigation option without impacting on agricultural production. In addition, improved soil carbon should lead to better nutrient cycling and soil nutrient availability. More accurate quantification of C sequestration in grasslands is essential to allow reporting to Tier 2 and 3 levels and to provide information that allows for both effective reduction and mitigation of C emissions at both the field and national level. Management practices that can increase SOC stocks to mitigate climate change will provide the basis for inclusion of grassland soils into both carbon trading schemes and LCA's, which will assist the sector both in terms of carbon credits and a reduced carbon footprint on agricultural produce. This project will integrate with various other projects quantifying and/or modelling C and nitrogen (N) processes to provide costed toolkit of potential management of C associated with grasslands.
  • Funding Agency
    • Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • Date From
    • 2018
  • Date To
    • 2022
  • Title
    • Investigating the carbon and greenhouse gas dynamics of raised bog ecosystems.
  • Summary
    • Peatlands are distinctive ecosystems that develop at the interface between terrestrial and aquatic biospheres, they cover only between 2-6% of the earth's surface but play a significant role in global carbon (C), water and greenhouse gas (GHG) dynamics1,2. These ecosystems store approximately 15 x 102 Pg of C representing ~33% of the global soil C pool1,3, and contribute up to 30% of the global methane (CH4) emissions4, which has a global warming potential 26 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year timeframe. In Ireland, peatlands cover between 14-20% of the land area and sequester an estimated 72,000 t C yr-1, however much of this area has been modified by anthropogenic activities such as extraction for energy, horticulture or domestic purposes or through drainage for agriculture or forestry5. Such land management activities have significant implications for the C sequestration potential and GHG dynamics of these ecosystems, and the restoration of degraded areas is required to enhance the C sink strength of these ecosystems and further offset national GHG emissions. Of particular national significance is the occurrence of peat-forming raised bogs, such as Clara Bog, Co Offaly, an annex II habitat under the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), which while degraded is one of the best examples of active raised bog in Western Europe. Restoration activities are currently underway at Clara as part of a NPWS EU-funded LIFE project, and this project will enhance this work by investigating the impacts of peatland restoration on the C and GHG dynamics of this ecosystem.
  • Funding Agency
    • TCD
  • Date From
    • 2018
  • Date To
    • 2022
  • Title
    • Manipulation and Integration of Nitrogen Emissions
  • Summary
    • Nitrous oxide emissions comprise over one-third of all agricultural emissions, with the majority arising from livestock production. Both Food Wise 2025 and Origin Green initiatives aim to simultaneously increase agricultural production, whilst also reducing the carbon footprint and enhancing sustainability associated with that production. Conversely EU Climate and Energy Package targets require reductions in absolute emissions. Current nitrous oxide mitigation research attempts to reduce N2O emissions via various means which may increase other reactive N losses (from leached N or ammonia volatilisation). Converting excess soil N to N2 (via the process of total and co-denitrification) offers the prospect of diverting excess N away from environmentally damaging N forms (N2O, NH3, NO3-) to environmentally benign N2. In addition, most N2O research is principally focussed on manipulation at the plot scale, with little or no temporal or spatial verification of measures. This makes verifying the carbon and nitrogen footprint of farms use default emission factors difficult, with no empirical verification of these emissions.
  • Funding Agency
    • Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • Date From
    • 2018
  • Date To
    • 2022
  • Title
    • Supporting EU-African Cooperation on Research Infrastructures for Food Security and Greenhouse Gas Observations
  • Summary
    • African societies face growing global change risks, with rapidly changing patterns of human settlements and intensity of use of ecosystem services. At the same time, climate variability and climate change trends are intensifying stress on the ecosystems that ensure environmental security, both locally (e.g. ecosystem services), regionally (e.g. sustainable development options) and internationally (e.g. carbon sequestration). Approaches that can address this challenge in an integrated and multidisciplinary way are urgently needed in many places in Africa where there is a close relationship between societal well-being and environmental condition, relating particularly to biomass for energy and food production, and hydrological considerations such as water yields. Policymakers and land-use decision makers are increasingly dependent on knowledge on the state of the environment. Long-term observational systems and research infrastructures have been identified to be indispensable elements of knowledge generation to serve climate change adaptation, food security, and climate change mitigation. This proposal supports EU-African cooperation on research infrastructures. Its aims are to increase coherence and interoperability between infrastructures in Europe and Africa, to enhance technical competence, science awareness and lifelong learning in Africa in order to facilitate the use of research results for evidence-based policy making, and to identify knowledge gaps for future research directions.
  • Funding Agency
    • EU Horizon 2020
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2020
  • Title
    • Soil organic carbon and land use mapping
  • Summary
    • The primary objective of this project is to develop a spatially integrated soils and land use dataset for Ireland that will be used to provide:  robust estimates of reference SOC stocks  an enhanced methodology to report SOC carbon stock changes  a better process-based understanding of the influence of land use, management and climate on SOC stocks, CSC and GHG dynamics  the capability to inform Tier 2 reporting activities and land-based mitigation methodologies  the development of robust uncertainty analysis in the national GHG inventory for SOC stock changes and GHG emissions associated with LULUCF
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2020
  • Title
    • Peatland properties influencing greenhouse gas emissions and removals
  • Summary
    • Peatlands have played an important role in climate regulation over the past 10,000 years. Pristine peatlands in Ireland are currently a small C sink (absorbing CO2 while emitting CH4) but represent less than 20% of the current national resource. Anthropogenic disturbances, mainly in the form of drainage (for agriculture and forestry) and peat extraction result in increased CO2 and N2O emissions, and reduced CH4 emissions. There are two options for mitigating GHG emissions from peatlands: avoiding new or recurrent drainage and reducing emissions on the existing drained areas. Climate policy instruments involving mitigation on peat soils are not being implemented in Ireland due to lack of basic information on the peatland resource and in particular its properties. This knowledge gap should be addressed in order to fully quantify the role of human activities on the climate footprint of Irish peatlands. Therefore the main objective of this project is to carry out a nationwide survey to document the properties of various types of peatlands and peat soils, how they are affected by various management options and how this influences the C and GHG dynamics of these systems, thereby quantifying the role of human activities on the climate footprint of Irish peatlands.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2020
  • Title
    • Analysis of grasslands and associated management practices and potential impact on GHG emissions and removals
  • Summary
    • Under the EU Effort Sharing Decision (Decision No 406/2009/EC), Ireland's 2020 target is to achieve a 20% reduction in GHG emissions. Ireland reports annually on GHG inventories (Decision 13/CP.9) which include estimates of carbon gain or release from LULUCF categories. While the LULUCF categories have different characteristics in terms of carbon stocks, potential GHG emissions and removals, existing methodologies have been shown to underestimate carbon sinks from grasslands. Grassland represents the dominant land use category in Ireland and can act as a source or a sink of carbon depending on the land management practice in situ. Insufficient data exists at present to evaluate impacts of changes in the spatial extent and associated management of grassland systems on GHG emissions and removals within the LULUCF sector.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Date From
    • 2016
  • Date To
    • 2018
  • Title
    • Quantification of the impact of agricultural management on the carbon balance from organic and organo-mineral soils
  • Summary
    • National and EU Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets pose considerable challenges for Irish agriculture. Reducing soil-based CO2 emissions from organic soils is a key measure in the national Climate Action Plan and offers the potential to reduce emissions whilst maintaining productivity. Agricultural soils are currently reported as a net source of carbon emissions due to the drainage of peat soils for agricultural use. Rewetting drained peat soils provide an opportunity to reduce emissions and protect our largest carbon sink, with over 1 billion tonnes carbon stored in these soils. Enhancing C sequestration also offers value for money, with abatement from organic soils representing potential C credit savings ranging from €109M to €327M over the reporting period 2021-30 (based on costs of €25-€75 per tonne CO2). However there are large uncertainties around the magnitude of emissions associated with both drainage depth (shallow and deep drains) and the nutrient status (nutrient rich versus nutrient poor) of these soils. Therefore national data are required to better quantify soil carbon emissions and sinks from agricultural land, enable mitigation measures to increase carbon sequestration to be included in the national inventory and enable Ireland to benefit from the 2018 EU Effort Sharing Regulation. .
  • Funding Agency
    • Teagasc Walsh Scholarship
  • Date From
    • 2021
  • Date To
    • 2025
  • Title
    • Adaptation, mitigation and protection strategies to increase resilience of Irish forests to address the impacts of climate change
  • Summary
    • Resilience is a measure of how a forest responds to a perturbation, and how quickly it can recover to its ideal state. In the face of changing climate, and increased threat from pests and pathogens, building the resilience of forest ecosystems is vital to protecting the ecosystem services they deliver. The research proposal ADAPTForRes addresses three measures (pillars) aim at increasing resilience: 1-Forest Genetic Options, 2- Forest Management Practices and 3-Forest protection measures. Each pillar has a number of tasks, with associated objectives, and tasks are conducted by national experts in their field of research that contribute to pillar goals. The main aim of pillar 1, is to assess whether the current range of forest reproductive material (FRM) is suitably adapted for climate change and whether additional FRM has potential to assist adaption, while maintaining sustainable production or conservation goals. Pillar 2, aims to conduct research into forest management options for minimizing the impacts of climate change through enhanced mitigation (assessment of afforestation options). It will also evaluate the potential of using diverse and adaptive sustainable forest management practices which may offer the potential to increase the resilience of Irish forests. Such practices may have potential to minimise risk of carbon loss from existing forest stocks owing to the expected increasing frequency of natural disturbance. Pillar 3, will conduct research in forest protection, including a global horizon scanning and pest risk assessment of key forest species, and examine the potential of an innovative riskbased surveillance network (using sentinel sites). to detect and track the progression of pathogens in Irish forests. There is provision for the development of an authenticated reference pest collection for assisting plant health regulations. Taken together the research has significant impact to contribute to increasing resilience in Irish forests and reducing the uncertainty associated with climate change.
  • Funding Agency
    • DAFM
  • Date From
    • 01/11/2021
  • Date To
    • 31/10/2025
  • Title
    • Knowledge and climate services from an African observation and Data research Infrastructure
  • Summary
    • The project ?Knowledge and climate services from an African observation and Data research Infrastructure? aims to provide concepts for developing the best available science and science-based services in Africa that are needed to sharpen our common action on climate change as outlined in the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 13 ?Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts?. The concepts we want to provide aim at improving the knowledge base on climate change in Africa and developing the tools to combat the negative consequences of it. This basic objective shall be achieved by a consortium that combines partners from Africa and Europe but also combines diverse experiences, backgrounds and viewpoints. The common goal is to provide a comprehensive concept that supports the important societal role of research outlined above by co-designing research capacities for climate change observation with societal demands and expectations, in our case called ?climate services? and to pave the way for their implementation. The specific objectives of the proposed project are: ? A comprehensive design for a pan-African climate observation system developed on the basis of climate services as guiding design principle. This shall be rooted in a comprehensive documentation of past and existing observing capability, contrasted with scientifically justified requirements to identify the gaps. ? A broad information network as basis for a successful and sustainable cooperation that connects infrastructure operators, scientists, data and knowledge users, a community of practice in climate services, agencies and funding bodies. This will be achieved by a dense networking and knowledge exchange approach connecting to all important players on the global, continental, national, and local level. ? A solid strategy for implementation and usage in close connection to future actors and users.
  • Funding Agency
    • Horizon Europe
  • Date From
    • 01/09/2022
  • Date To
    • 31/08/2025
  • Title
    • Characterising Organic and Inorganic Carbon Sequestration associated with Soil Amendments
  • Funding Agency
    • Teagasc Walsh Scholarships
  • Date From
    • 01/09/2022
  • Date To
    • 31/08/2026
  • Title
    • Assessing the role of multispecies GRAssland swarDs on clImatE mitigatioN, water quality and productiviTy in Ireland (GRADIENT)
  • Summary
    • Agriculture dominates the Irish landscape, with ~60% of the total land area devoted to grass-based agriculture for beef and dairy production. However, this type of land use has significant environmental implications, as the agricultural sector accounts for ~30% of national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and can have negative impacts on both surface and groundwater quality. These systems provide food for a growing population but need to rapidly develop more sustainable approaches in order to move towards carbon neutrality and to meet emission reduction targets and water quality legislation. Coupled with this there, is a requirement to better understand the carbon and greenhouse gas dynamics of these ecosystems, to determine the drivers of emissions and how these change with variations in management and climate. This project will assess how alternative planting mixtures and management interventions can reduce gaseous and aquatic emissions of carbon and nitrogen and further our understanding of the drivers and spatio-temporal variability in emissions. This work will then directly contribute to enhancing the sustainability of grassland production in Ireland.
  • Funding Agency
    • Science Foundation Ireland
  • Date From
    • 01/01/2023
  • Date To
    • 31/12/2027
  • Title
    • Improving methodologies for reporting and verifying terrestrial CO2 removals and emissions from Irish PEATlands (CO2PEAT)
  • Summary
    • Peatlands are highly sensitive wetland ecosystems with accumulated dead organic material resulting from anaerobic conditions due to inundation leading to consistently high water tables 1,2. They represent one of the most important terrestrial carbon (C) sinks globally, storing one third of soil C, despite only covering c. 3% of total land-surface 3. In Ireland, peatlands have been present in the landscape since the last Ice Age, and currently occupy up to 20% of the country"s land area 4, and they account for between 53-75% of the total Irish soil organic C stocks 5,6. As such, Irish peatlands are important both nationally and internationally7 in the provision of key ecosystem services such as climate mitigation. However, much of the peatland area in Ireland (>80%) has been influenced through anthropogenic management through the drainage of these systems and either conversion to forestry or agriculture, or extraction for energy or horticultural purposes7. Accurate estimates of the impact of land-use/management and drainage on the hydrology, ecology and biogeochemistry of peatland ecosystems in Ireland are required to provide a research-basis for policy decisions that will validate the actions outlined in the National Climate Action plan and to enable the conservation of these ecosystems to sequester C in future. For example, restoring degraded peatlands represents one of the key ways 8 to achieve the net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target by 20509. There are a number of historic and current research projects that have/are investigating the impact of peatland use and rehabilitation on the hydrology, ecology and biodiversity status of these systems (CelticFlux, Bogland, EcoMetrics, SmartBog, CarePeat, Agri-SOC, iHabimap, Auger, Swamp, Terrain-AI), and information from these projects is important to better inform the implementation, impacts and monitoring requirements of key peatland rehabilitation plans, such as the enhanced restoration of candidate cut-over/cut-away peatland in the EU LIFE IP Peatlands & People project, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Peatlands Restoration Programme (PRP), and the Bord na Mona (BnM) EDRRS activities in Ireland.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Title
    • Assessing Peatland Emissions of Nitrous Oxide (ASPEN)
  • Summary
    • Peatland ecosystems provide multiple ecosystem services (water quality, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, cultural and recreational) and represent a vital nature based climate mitigation solution. Globally these ecosystems cover approximately 3% of the land area and store over 30% of the soil based carbon (C) stocks, while in Ireland these figures increase to ~20% and up to 75% respectively1,2. However, over 80% of the peatlands in Ireland have been drained for industrial extraction or have been converted to forestry or agriculture. This has significant implications for the climate mitigation potential of these systems, as lowering the water table allows for the development of an aerobic layer in the peat substrate leading to an increase in rates of oxidation and emission of the carbon stored as carbon dioxide (CO2)3, with the agricultural use of peatlands for grass based production representing a significant emission source, with >8 Mt CO2-eq emitted annually4. Furthermore, the drainage of peatlands can increase nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions due to enhanced oxygen and nitrogen availability, with drained northern peatlands estimated to emit between 30-100 Gg N2O-N per year5. This project aims to assess the impact of peatland management on N2O production and emission, which represents an understudied area in peatland greenhouse gas (GHG) dynamics6. This work will engage with the national and international stakeholders in this area (policy, national emissions inventory team, academic, wetland community groups, farmers) to collate all relevant information available from relevant national research projects (e.g. BOGLAND, AUGER, A framework for the restoration of degraded peatlands, EcoMetrics, SmartBog, SWAMP, CarePeat, AGRI-SOC, Agricultural Catchment Programme) and data from other relevant studies on northern peatlands, on rates of N2O emission and the key proxies that drive emissions. This will provide a foundation to assess the current state of understanding, identify key knowledge gaps and engage new measurement programmes to address these. Building on this, work will be undertaken to enhance the knowledge available by measuring the soil-atmosphere N2O emissions from a wide range of peatland sites in Ireland. These may include near-natural sites (representing baseline emissions), industrial extraction sites undergoing enhanced and natural rehabilitation, drained agricultural sites subject to rewetting and peatland converted to forestry. By strategically selecting the measurement sites this work will align with, and contribute to activities in the EPA funded SmartBog project, the SFI/Microsoft funded Terrain-AI project, the National Soil Carbon Observatory, the other EPA research fellows working on CO2 and methane (CH4) and the EPA funded Wet-Peat project respectively. The sites will be characterised to assess the influence of key proxy variables on rates of emission (water table height, nutrient status, bulk density, peat degradation, C:N ratio, pH) and this information will be used to develop site-specific emission factors. The work will also asses the spatial and temporal variability in emissions, which can be then be linked to a geo-spatial framework (e.g. SmartBog, other EPA research fellows (CH4/CO2) and T-AI) to enable wider upscaling. This work will also provide input data required for the validation and calibration of the DNDC/DNDC-Wetland model and will build on current modelling activities using ECOSSE and CoupModel (AUGER, SmartBog), which will be used to assess the influence of management (rehabilitation/rewetting) and climatic variability on emission dynamics, in addition to aiding with spatial upscaling of emissions. The primary research activities associated with this project will therefore provide activity data to refine the use of Tier I emission factors (EFs) for N2O emissions associated with cutaway and drained peatlands (FOS).
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency

Keywords

Agro-environment; Bioenergy crops; Carbon Cycle; Climate Change; Cyperus papyrus L.; Environmental science; Greenhouse Gases; Nitrogen Cycle; PEATLANDS; Plant Ecophysiology; Sustainable development; Tropical Wetlands

Recognition

Representations

Editorial board member for Global Change Biology Bioenergy 2016

Awards and Honours

Provost's Teaching Award (Shortlisted) 2019

Enterprise Ireland Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Award 2016

Memberships

Wetlands Professional Platform. 2004 – 2007

American Geophysical Union 2015 – Present

European Geosciences Union 2015 – Present