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For my undergraduate dissertation project, I conducted a literature review aiming to calculate “The Climate Impact of Salt Marsh Realignment” and so investigate the efficacy of these ecosystems as climate change mitigators. I compared rates of carbon sequestration with rates of methane and nitrous oxide flux. The results showed fluxes of other greenhouse gases can detract somewhat from carbon sequestration and so reduce the net benefit the of the realignment process. Furthermore, this project was the beginning of my interest in blue carbon which led to my pursing a subsequent MSc by research degree and continuing to work in this field.

My MSc project was entitled “Sea-level change, carbon storage and greenhouse gas fluxes in a Northumberland (UK) salt marsh” and involved using the three distinct but connected elements listed to investigate the functioning of a natural salt marsh. This project exemplifies the possibility of using interdisciplinary techniques to build a comprehensive picture of the impact a particular ecosystem has on climate change and vice versa. This project cemented my interest in blue carbon and led to further questions about the functioning of realigned sites compared with their natural counterparts.

Key Research Interests

Salt marsh realignment is receiving increased attention as a nature-based climate change solution because of the perceived ability of these ecosystems to sequester carbon at high rates. There is interest in using this capability for carbon crediting schemes whereby organisation invest in carbon credits to offset their own unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions while also providing funds for the management of realigned sites. Therefore, it is vital to consider whether realigned salt marshes sequester carbon in the same way as natural sites and, to this end, my project will aim at understanding the underlying processes related to carbon dynamics and microbial ecology in realigned marshes; microbial decomposition being the main driver of carbon loss. This project too will combine techniques from different fields, namely, restoration, biogeochemistry, and microbial ecology. First, carbon stocks and sequestration rates will be determined for multiple realigned sites in the UK. Second, environmental parameters will be linked to microbial diversity and functioning in a natural and realigned marsh. Finally, to identify which microbial groups are responsible for actively breaking down organic carbon, microcosm experiments will be employed using soil from the field and 13C labelled plant material as a tracer.

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Science, University of York

Master of Research, University of York