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Studentship: Erosion hotspots and carbon loss from upland peatlands

Durham University (UK) and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership are seeking a student for a fully-funded NERC PhD Studentship commencing October 2016.


This is a fully-funded NERC Industrial CASE studentship based in the Department of Geography, Durham University in partnership with the Peatlands Programme of the North Pennines AONB. Research will focus on the Moor House-Upper Teesdale Nature Reserve, an ECN site.

Project Context and Rationale

Over the last 20 years peatlands have undergone a transformation as a restoration culture has begun to pervade the management of these landscapes. As a result many eroded and bare peat landscapes have begun to repair and vegetate leaving increasingly fragmented areas of bare peat. Such areas are the focus of continued erosion, are hard to restore and often difficult to access. These hotspots of erosion continue to threaten the overall carbon balance of the landscape and limit the efforts of restoration. Therefore it is important to ask whether the effort, and expense, required to restore these small, often disparate, areas has a significant benefit or should such areas be left alone as their impact on the restored ecosystem services of the uplands is negligible compared to the cost of further restoration?


The objectives of the project are to:

  1. Understand the distribution, size, and connectedness of bare peat hotspots and how this has changed in the historic past within a spectrum of upland peat catchments.
  2. Undertake field experiments to understand the dynamics of bare peat patches and how the size, shape and organisation of patches across the landscape changes and impacts on erosion.
  3. Develop a management strategy for the restoration of erosion hotspots and devise techniques that will yield greatest benefit to the local community / economy.
  4. Test possible interventions to target and restrict the impact of erosion hotspots.


Further details and how to apply

Please see the attached file for more information. If interested, please apply by the deadline of 3rd March 2016 (5pm GMT).  

Your application will be reviewed and a shortlist for interview will be  drawn up. Interviews will take place in the week of the 14th March 2016. Applicants will be notified if they are successful by 31st March 2016. The candidate will be expected to start in September/October 2016. If you have any questions about the research project, please get in touch with Dr Jeff Warburton ( ). If you have questions about the application procedure, please contact .