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Personal profile

Key Research Interests and Expertise

Matt is an expert on the global carbon cycle and in particular the role of landscape fires and fossil fuel combustion in this cycle. His research focuses on the global and regional trends in wildfire and deforestation fire activity seen in satellite observations and models and the implications of these trends for carbon storage on land.

Matt contributes to the Global Carbon Project (GCP). Each year, the GCP evaluates the global carbon budget by accounting for emissions of CO2 from fossil sources, deforestation and other land use changes, the uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans, and the CO2 that remains in the atmosphere.

Academic Background

Matt completed his PhD in Physical Geography at the University of Exeter, where his thesis evaluated the impacts of fire on the quantity and quality of carbon flowing through rivers.

He went on to research the legacy effects of fire on the land carbon cycle at Swansea University.

In 2019, Matt joined UEA's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. His work at UEA focuses on the global and regional impact of climate change on wildfires, their emissions and their legacy effects on land carbon storage. He also contributes to the Global Carbon Project, which is an international effort to account for all major emissions and sinks of carbon on an annual basis.

Biography

Matt has a broad interest in the global carbon cycle and a particular focus on the roles of landscape fires and fossil fuel combustion in this cycle.

The Global Carbon Budget

Matt contributes to the Global Carbon Project (GCP). Each year, the GCP evaluates the global carbon budget by accounting for emissions of CO2 from fossil sources, deforestation and other land use changes, the uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans, and the CO2 that remains in the atmosphere.

Matt contributed to the GCP's 2019 and 2020 assessments of the global carbon budget (Friedlingstein et al., 2019; 2020; Earth System Science Data).

Fire Emissions and Legacy Effects

Matt's research has focussed on the legacy effects of fire on the land and aquatic carbon cycles. Historical fires influence the modern carbon budget, while present-day fires will continue to influence the carbon budget in the coming decades, centuries and even millennia. The legacy effects of fire include: the long-term uptake of carbon through vegetation recovery, which is modulated by changes in vegetation cover; associated changes in soil carbon stocks; changes in the quality of soil carbon through storage of combustion by-products such as charcoal and ash (known as as "pyrogenic carbon"); and, the export of pyrogenic carbon to oceans via rivers.

Matt recently led key studies that estimated the global-scale production of pyrogenic carbon (Jones et al., 2019, Nature Geoscience) and the export of pyrogenic carbon from land to ocean via rivers (Jones et al., 2020, Nature Communications). 

Fossil Fuel Emissions

Matt recently led the development of a new gridded fossil emissions dataset (GridFED) that extends the GCP's national estimates of CO2 emissions from (Jones et al., 2020, Scientific Data). GridFED is used in conjunction with atmospheric measurements of CO2 to mathematically derive the uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans using inverse models. GridFED helps to constrain the global carbon budget using observational data leading to key insights into the regional distribution of carbon sinks and their seasonality (Friedlingstein et al., 2020, Earth System Science Data).

Matt also contributed to recent estimates to evaluate the impact of international lockdowns during 2020, which were implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on fossil CO2 emissions (Le Quéré et al., 2020, Nature Climate Change).

Research Group Membership

School of Environmental Sciences

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Research Group of Corinne Le Quéré CBE FRS

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Science, University of Exeter

15 Sep 201015 Jul 2013

Award Date: 15 Jul 2019

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Exeter

15 Sep 20141 Nov 2018

Award Date: 29 May 2019

External positions

Contributor, Global Carbon Project

1 Mar 2020 → …

Network

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