Dr Lisa Emberson
Director of SEI York



Lisa became the Centre Director of SEI York in December 2012. She has over 20 years’ experience in the field of air pollution and climate change focussing on impacts on agricultural yields, forest productivity and the functioning of terrestrial semi-natural ecosystems. Recently, she is actively involved in the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution and more recently has been involved in UNEP initiatives to investigate the role of short-lived air pollutants (SLCPs) in human health, agricultural productivity and near term climate change.

She teaches ‘Land Use Change and Management’ with a focus on the role of agriculture on land use change and the challenges facing agricultural development to ensure future food security, agricultural sustainability and agricultural livelihoods.

Key Skills

Air pollution, climate change and ecosystem damage, atmosphere-biosphere gas exchange, soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transport (SVAT) modelling, plant physiology, agriculture, food security, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.


  • BSc (Environmental Biology, University of Manchester)
  • PhD (Air pollution, Centre of Environmental Technology (ICCET), Imperial College, London)
  • 1996 to 1999: PDRA at Centre of Environmental Technology (ICCET), Imperial College, London)
  • 1999 to present: Research Group Leader at SEI York and
  • 2000 to present: Reader in Environmental Science, Environment Dept. UoYork.

Departmental roles

  • Centre Director
  • Reader in Environmental Science



Since joining SEI Lisa has developed research in Asia, Africa and Latin America investigating the effects of a range of air pollutants (SO2, NOx, O3, SPM and fluorides) on both agro- and forest ecosystems with a view to investigating the subsequent impacts on social and economic systems.

In addition to her developing country experience she retains an active research role in Europe, developing methodologies for use within the UNECE LRTAP Convention. This research focuses on investigating the biological, economic and social impacts of ground-level ozone on agriculture and forests and has led to the revision of methods to estimate both the deposition and impacts of tropospheric ozone using flux based Critical Levels as a policy tool across Europe.


Remote Sensing for Air Quality Impact Assessment. (Funder STFC; £65k; June 2015 – May 2016)

This project will develop methods to improve our knowledge of the scale of pollution levels in rural areas around the World and of the pollution effects on ecosystems. The project will bring together a unique combination of novel satellite observation and analysis techniques with state-of-the-art air pollution modelling and impact assessment methods.

SEI York staff:  Lisa Emberson (PI); Patrick Bueker, Alan Briolat, Simon Croft

Partners: Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Leeds University


Earth Observation & Modelling Agri-Tech to Understand Chinese Agricultural & Forest Fires in Relation to Management Practice & Climate Drivers. (STFC; £58k; July 2015 – March 2016) This project focuses on biomass burning in China exploring :- (i) agricultural fires that occur annually over very large areas, lit purposely to remove material from the land prior to harvest and; (ii) forest fires that occur in any one location less frequently than agricultural fires, but which can have significant impact on both forest ecology and forest resources. These are generally also caused by human activities but primarily by accidental or inappropriate ignitions, or by fires spreading into forest from neighbouring agricultural lands. The project aims at further enhancing the use of Earth Observation, Remote Sensing and Simulation modelling in this area of Agri-Tech research and application, whilst also addressing ‘real-world’ issues in relation to Chinese agricultural, landuse and forestry practices.

SEI York staff:  Lisa Emberson (PI); Harry Vallack, Chris Malley, Jon Ensor

Partners: Kings College London, Forest Research, University of Aberdeen, Swansea University, Kunming Institute of Botany,


Contribution to the UNECE LRTAP ICP Vegetation Programme. (UK Defra; £30k; April 2014 – March 2017) The International Co-operative Programme on Vegetation (ICP Vegetation) was established in 1987 under the United Nation Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) to investigate the impacts of air pollutants on crops and (semi-)natural vegetation. SEI York’s role in the ICP vegetation has been i. to review knowledge of air pollution impacts to countries in South Asia as part of LRTAPs outreach agenda to regions outside of Europe; ii. to review dose-response relationships to ozone for forest trees across Europe and iii. to contribute to the development of new risk assessment methodologies to help in establishing critical levels for the combined impacts of ozone and nitrogen pollution across Europe. Further information on the ICP vegetation can be found at http://icpvegetation.ceh.ac.uk/

SEI York staff: Lisa Emberson (PI); Patrick Bueker

Partners: CEH Bangor


Quantifying the impact of ground level O3 on soil carbon (C) sequestration. (AXA Fellowship; £82k; Nov 2015 – Oct 2017) This project aims to study and quantify the relationships between ozone exposure and probable changes in different soil C pools by: (1) Combining an ozone deposition model DO3SE (capable of estimating deposition, uptake and damage caused by ozone to living plant biomass) with a soil C model (CENTURY); (2). Performing targeted experimental campaigns to provide empirical data to allow the incorporation of ozone effects on plant lignin, root exudates and microbial activity in the integrated DO3SE-CENTURY model and; (3). Application of the DO3SE-CENTURY model at locations in the UK to allow assessments of the impact of ozone levels on both living biomass and soil C.

SEI York staff: Lisa Emberson (PI); Divya Pandey

Partners: CEH Bangor


Interaction of climate extremes, air pollution and agro-ecosystems (CiXPAG). (Norwegian Research Council; £132k March 2015 – March 2019) CiXPAG will investigate the complex interactions between climate extremes, air pollution and agricultural ecosystems. Climate extremes (e.g., droughts and heatwaves) and air pollution events often co-occur causing serious losses in agricultural productivity. Our understanding of how these stresses interact is poorly developed, and the consequences for agricultural ecosystems in some of the worst affected and most vulnerable areas are almost non-existent. CiXPAG will develop novel methods to incorporate ground-level ozone pollution fluxes in statistical crop models and the estimation of crop yields. Socio-economic methods will inform the integration of regional climate and pollutant modelling methods to provide an integrated assessment of agricultural productivity under different climate and pollutant regimes, which will contribute to the framing of effective climate change adaptation strategies and air pollution regulations.

SEI York Staff: Lisa Emberson (PI); Alan Briolat, Patrick Bueker, Jon Ensor

Partners: CICERO; University of Oslo; Norwegian Meteorological Institute; University of Vanarasi, India; Sustainable Atmosphere for the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal; University Federal de Vicosa, Brazil.


Effects of Climate Change on Air Pollution and Response Strategies for European Ecosystems (ECLAIRE). (EU FP7;  £168k March 2011 to Nov 2015). This project aims to optimise the efficacy of European emission control strategies in the global pollution-climate change context, to develop a consistent and process-based observational and modelling framework to understand how interactive atmospheric pollutants will impact ecosystems in response to climate and air pollution. SEI Yorks role was to develop pollutant deposition methods (using the DO3SE model) that were capable of understanding the risk from a combination of ozone and nitrogen pollution under climate change. This involved developing a photosynthetic based DO3SE model and  applying this model with ECLAIRE experimental datasets to develop novel thresholds and dose response relationships for European ecosystems. Further details can be found at the embrace website at http://www.eclaire-fp7.eu/

SEI York staff: Lisa Emberson (PI); Patrick Bueker, Alan Briolat

Partners: see http://www.eclaire-fp7.eu/


PhD Students

Andrianah Mbandi - Estimating atmospheric pollution emissions from transport in Nairobi, Kenya.

Olajide Olawoyin – Understanding trends in emissions and associated impacts in 3 West Africa countries – Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria

Steph Osborne – Understanding the impact of ozone on crop production across continents (Europe, North America and South Asia)

Anjar Priandoyo – Developing energy scenarios for Indonesia that will reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and their impacts.   


Selected publications

Büker, P., Feng, Z., Uddling, J., Briolat,  a., Alonso, R., Braun, S., Elvira, S., Gerosa, G., Karlsson, P. E., Le Thiec, D., Marzuoli, R., Mills, G., Oksanen, E., Wieser, G., Wilkinson, M. and Emberson, L. D. (2015). New flux based dose–response relationships for ozone for European forest tree species, Environ. Pollut., 206, 163–174.

Emberson, L. D., Kitwiroon, N., Beevers, S., Büker, P., & Cinderby, S. (2013). Scorched Earth: how will changes in the strength of the vegetation sink to ozone deposition affect human health and ecosystems? Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13(14), 6741–6755.

Shindell, D., Kuylenstierna, J. C. I., Vignati, E., van Dingenen, R., Amann, M., Klimont, Z., Anenberg, S. C., Muller, N., Janssens-Maenhout, G., Raes, F., Schwartz, J., Faluvegi, G., Pozzoli, L., Kupiainen, K., Höglund-Isaksson, L., Emberson, L., Streets, D., Ramanathan, V., Hicks, K., Oanh, N. T. K., Milly, G., Williams, M., Demkine, V. and Fowler, D. (2012) Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security., Science, 335(6065), 183–9.

Büker, P., Morrissey, T., Briolat, a., Falk, R., Simpson, D., Tuovinen, J.-P., Alonso, R., Barth, S., Baumgarten, M., Grulke, N., Karlsson, P. E., King, J., Lagergren, F., Matyssek, R., Nunn, A., Ogaya, R., Peñuelas, J., Rhea., L., Schaub, M., Uddling, J., Werner, W., and Emberson, L.D. (2012) DO3SE modelling of soil moisture to determine ozone flux to forest trees, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 12(12), 5537-5562

Ainsworth, E. A, Yendrek, C. R., Sitch, S., Collins, W. J., & Emberson, L. D. (2012). The Effects of Tropospheric Ozone on Net Primary Productivity and Implications for Climate Change. Annual Review of Plant Biology, 637–663.

Full publications list

See full list on SEI website



Lisa co-convenes a third year module in 'Land Use Change and Management' with Dr. Rob Marchant; this is taught in the Environment Dept. University of York.

See course module

Lisa Emberson

Lisa Emberson

Telephone: 07552 285889

Email: l.emberson@york.ac.uk