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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 TARA - Full Text 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 TARA - Full Text URL

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

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

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 DOI TARA - Full Text

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, 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

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

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., 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

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 URL DOI

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 DOI URL

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 DOI URL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
    • 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

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