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Felix Trotter
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh
Carbon cycling in African and Australian woodlands – Interactions between biodiversity,
climate and fire
Both climate and fire play a critical role in the carbon cycling of tropical woodlands across Africa and Australia. Effective
predictions on the future of these ecosystems depends on better understanding their climate sensitivity. In Africa this
biome is undergoing land use change, with increasing forest loss from human expansion, linked to agriculture, fuelwood
and timber extraction. In Australia there are strong climate gradients, leading to sharp spatial shifts in tree/grass
dominance, and recent results suggest high sensitivity of carbon exchanges to climate cycles such as El Nino. This project
sets out to determine the interacting roles of plant traits, climate, fire and land use change in determining forest biomass
dynamics across similar latitudes in Tanzania/ Mozambique and the Northern Territories of Australia. By using a simple box
model (DALEC) and data assimilation techniques, this project aims at reducing uncertainties in outputs of modelled carbon
cycles while including dynamic processes such as changing water gradients, fire and land use into the model.
Why are you doing your project?
My academic interests centre on drought and forest fireinduced changes in the tropospheric and vegetative carbon
cycle and subsequent effects on forest photosynthesis and
tropospheric water and energy balance. I aim at improving
dynamic environmental models which assess changes in the
atmospheric carbon and water cycle in order to predict the
likeliness of droughts and forest-fires in the tropics.
Furthermore, this project can help me achieve my long-term
aim of researching the effects of fire-emitted aerosols on
moisture patterns and cloud generation in the atmosphere.
Outdoor activities
Interacting environmental spheres (e.g.
atmosphere with biosphere)
Cloud generation and atmospheric water
Communicating science to the public
Maintain the freedom to explore new frontiers
of science
Maintain non-alignment