Department of Geography

Masters by Research (MRes) supported by the North Pennines AONB Partnership

Assessing the role of peat bog restoration in mitigating carbon loss by erosion

Background: Peat bog restoration is an important upland management practice and is increasingly being used to mitigate erosion and carbon loss. However, detailed monitoring of the effectiveness of restoration techniques on erosion and sediment loss is not always undertaken. The aim of this project is to assess the role of peat bog restoration in mitigating carbon loss by erosion. The site selected for this project is Flow Moss in the North Pennines, a 7 ha area of eroding peat bog which has been actively restored by Peatscapes (North Pennines AONB) since April 2010 when the site was first fenced. Geomorphological monitoring at the site began in October 2010 and baseline data on contemporary sediment transfer and erosion during the initial restoration project were collected. Existing data include: a low resolution Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the site; a detailed aerial survey of the site using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (April 2011); and a preliminary sediment budget summarising erosion and deposition (November 2010 - July 2011). It is important that the monitoring is extended to fully understand the effectiveness of the restoration measures over the longer term and improve the estimate of the carbon storage at the site.

Project Objectives:

  1. Continue monthly monitoring of contemporary sediment flux at the site using: wind erosion traps; water table height; erosion pins; deposition pole transects; and sediment traps at the exit from the site.
  2. Undertake a second UAV aerial survey of the site to assess surface cover changes (revegetation).
  3. Carry out a high resolution 3D GPR survey and peat sampling to determine peat depths and stratigraphical properties of the local carbon store.
  4. Monitor meteorological and site conditions using an AWS recording: air temperature, rainfall, wind speed / direction and a time lapse imagery of the surface peat conditions.
  5. Summarise these measurements in a sediment budget framework.

Results will be compared to the initial sediment budget to assess the longer term effectiveness of the restoration measures and evaluate in greater detail the status of the local carbon store.

Project Management: The MRes student will be supervised by Dr Jeff Warburton in the Geography Department at Durham University. The studentship will pay postgraduate fees at Home/EU rate for the successful applicant, provide a £2000 stipend and cover fieldwork costs. The successful applicant will work closely with the Peatscapes team and other partners. Start date: January 2013.

Person Specification: Applicants need a good first degree in a relevant discipline. Relevant work experience will also be considered. Applicants should have a commitment to fieldwork, a full UK driving licence and be keen to learn new skills in spatial survey. This is a full time (1 year) study programme. Please contact Jeff Warburton (jeff.warburton@durham.ac.uk) or (geog.pgadmissions@durham.ac.uk) for further information.

To Apply: Please send a CV and a covering letter outlining any relevant experience and your interests in this topic, along with references from two academic referees, certificates of qualification and academic transcripts, to Veronica Crooks, Research Office, Department of Geography, Durham University, South Road, Durham DL1 3LE, UK (geog.pgadmissions@durham.ac.uk). If your referees have any queries they should contact geog.pgadmissions@durham.ac.uk.

Deadline for applications: 4th December, 2012.