Accessibility statement

Thomas Sloan
PhD Student



Tom is a PhD student working on afforested peatlands in the Flow Country of Scotland. Tom has several years of technical experience in environmental, climate and agricultural research in the UK and abroad. This has included spells at Imperial College London working on closed system modelling of climate change, at FERA surveying British mammal populations and studying legume crops with the Processors and Growers Research Organisation.  Most recently, Tom has been a part of the Peatlands ESUK project at the University of York, examining the effect of management strategies on upland ecosystem services.

Tom’s PhD aims to use tephra-chronology to quantify the changes in carbon storage in afforested peatlands. The project will also quantify carbon storage in tree stocks to give a complete carbon budget for planted and unplanted areas.  Full details are available on the Quantifying carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands project website.


2016 - present

PhD student

Department of Environment and Geography, University of York

2012 - 2016

Research Technician

Department of Environment and Geography, University of York

2011 – 2012

Assistant Technical Officer

Processors and Growers Research Organisation


Field Assistant

Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London

2007 – 2010

Ecotron Research Technician

Silwood Park, Imperial College London

2006 – 2007

Field Assistant

FERA (then Central Science Laboratory)

2002 – 2006


Biology Department, University of York



Description of PhD

Title: Quantifying carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands

Supervisors: Professor Roland Gehrels (University of York), Dr Roxane Andersen (University of Highlands and Islands), Russell Anderson (Forestry Commission), Dr Dmitri Mauquoy (University of Aberdeen)

Funding: Leverhulme Trust

Description of thesis

Over the course of the Holocene the development of peatlands has led to the storage of up to 600 Gt carbon globally. There is a growing recognition that these deposits are of international importance, and must be understood and conserved. This was not always so. The Flow Country of northern Scotland is one of the largest blanket bogs in the world. During the late 20th Century the development of new planting techniques combined with tax incentives to encourage forestry across large areas peatland.

The effects of this planting are poorly understood. As many of the stands reach harvesting age, the question arises of whether the bogs should be restored. To address this it is of critical importance to quantify the loss of carbon from the peat, and evaluate it against the accumulation of carbon in trees.

Tephrochronology can be an important tool as part of a stock-based approach to quantify carbon in such systems. Peat deposits in the Flow Country are known to contain several layers cryptotephra originating from eruptions in Iceland (most notably Hekla 4). Recently developed core scanning techniques using x-ray fluorescence and x-radiography allow for rapid identification of these layers. The tephra may then be used to delineate isochrones in the peat, allowing for comparison between cores from forested stands and unplanted bog.

This interdisciplinary project uses paleoenvironmental techniques to answer current conservation questions. It will also provide one of the most complete records of tephra in the north of Scotland.


Selected publications

Lukac, M., Milcu, A., Wildman, D., Anderson, R., Sloan, T., Ineson, P. (2011) Non-intrusive monitoring of atmospheric CO2 in analogue models of terrestrial carbon cycle. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 2: 103-109

Sloan, Tom

Contact details

Thomas Sloan
PhD Student
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
Wentworth Way
YO10 5NG