Environment and Geography
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Sylvia is a systems ecologist interested in carbon, nutrient and pollutant exchange between ecosystem compartments to tackle environmental issues associated with pollution and global change. She uses an experimental approach to unravel the importance and drivers of ecosystem processes, particularly those involving gaseous compounds, using stable isotopes. She joined the Department of Environment and Geography in August 2004 and her research currently focuses on responses of CH4 and CO2 fluxes to elevated ozone in peatlands and grasslands, and how they are controlled by the underlying processes.
|BSc||Delft, The Netherlands|
Previous research activity
|2007-2008||UKPopNet||University of York||Linking microbial biodiversity and trace gas fluxes at the landscape scale: the Bug-to-Big project|
|2004-2007||NERC||University of York||Tropospheric ozone pollution: using stable isotopes to quantify ozone deposition, uptake and detoxification|
|2000-2004||USF grant 98.24||Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam||CH4 and CO2 fluxes in peatlands: role of plants and responses to global change|
|1995-2000||PhD||Utrecht University||A treatment wetland polishing effluent from a sewage treatment plant: performance and processes|
Unravelling the effects of elevated tropospheric ozone on CH4 and CO2 fluxes through below-ground processes
(NERC, University of York, 2008-2010)
Tropospheric ozone is the most important gaseous air pollutant globally in terms of effects on ecosystem production and function, and is currently the third most important contributor to the human-induced greenhouse effect. Increases in northern hemisphere background ozone concentrations are predicted over this century, and the potential for ozone to reduce carbon assimilation is well known. However, there is little understanding of its effects on both CH4 and CO2 fluxes and the underlying processes. The potential importance of ozone in reducing carbon (C) assimilation, and consequently in increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, has been recognised. Recent modelling studies suggest that ozone may have significant long-term effects on C budgets. However, such models are based only on ozone effects on rates of photosynthesis and assimilate partitioning, and lack any representation of effects of ozone on below-ground processes. Furthermore, almost all existing studies on the impacts of ozone on below-ground C fluxes have been carried out in forest or arable crop systems. Large soil organic C pools are present in northern hemisphere peatlands and grasslands, and these ecosystems, along with forests and arable land, were the most significant contributors to the net terrestrial C balance of Europe during the 1990s. Furthermore, peatlands are a significant global source of CH4, but few studies have assessed ozone effects on CH4 fluxes.
The aim of this study is to significantly increase understanding of the effects of elevated ozone on key processes below-ground and hence on net CH4 and CO2 fluxes in peatlands and grasslands. This will be achieved by experiments in open-top chambers (Close House field station, Newcastle University; Prof. Jeremy Barnes) with the application of new techniques using stable isotopes and molecular techniques to understand effects of elevated ozone on below-ground carbon flows, and microbial activity and community structure. Prof. Ineson and Dr. Thorunn Helgason are also involved in this project.