Dr Mark Schuerch (School of Geography, University of Lincoln)
Dr Robert Nicholls (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia)
Professor Kai Jensen (Institute for Plant Sciences and Microbiology, University of Hamburg)
Coastal wetlands, such as salt marshes, are declining at an alarming rate. It is assumed that salt marshes are able to gain elevation at the same pace as moderate rates of sea-level rise (SLR) . But is this true for higher rates of SLR  and all types of marshes? While in some marshes elevation gain is driven by inorganic sedimentation (i.e. minerogenic marshes), others rely on the slow process of peat formation (i.e. organogenic marshes) . Yet surprisingly little is known about the global distribution of these types of marshes and their specific resilience to climate change. We hypothesize, that organogenic marshes are less resilient, as vegetation is unable to persist under accelerated SLR, potentially leading to catastrophic shifts and marsh loss. And what about global warming? Vegetation might be able to produce more biomass for peat accumulation with increased temperatures and thus increase surface elevation . However, higher temperatures could also increase decomposition of peat , thus reducing the marsh’s resilience to SLR.
To answer these questions you will combine the analysis of datasets, remote sensing, modelling, and field work. The first objective is to assess the global distribution of minerogenic and organogenic marshes using existing ‘blue carbon’ datasets and remote sensing. Second, in several modelling case studies you will analyse geomorphological and ecological drivers of marsh resilience to SLR. Third, you will measure surface-elevation change in the worldwide only warming experiment in a minerogenic marsh (MERIT; Hamburg University, Germany, see photo and https://twitter.com/experimentmerit) and compare your data to an experiment in an organogenic marsh (SMARTEX; Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, USA).
You will be based at UEA and training will include the analysis of large datasets, remote sensing, and modelling. Field work will be done in an international collaboration (Germany). The project has an interdisciplinary setup and supervisory team, and will thus enable you to gain experience outside the field in which you gained your degree.
We are looking for a candidate with a degree in Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Earth Sciences, or other courses delivering similar knowledge and skills.