Lead Researcher: Professor Colin Prentice

My research is about how biophysical processes at the leaf, plant and ecosystem levels “scale up” to macroscopic properties of the biosphere, its interactions with climate and its implications for people. Most of what I do is theory and model development, and applications of models to diverse questions about climate change and natural resources. Its novelty consists of combining physical insight with the use of large-scale data sets derived from many sources - remote sensing, crop yield statistics, compilations of physiological measurements, atmospheric trace gas analyses - to develop, test and improve model predictions.

Current projects undertaken by my students and myself include:

  • Modelling plant isoprene emissions, and comparison with remotely sensed atmospheric observations
  • Reconstructing and modelling past fire regimes
  • Quantifying the interactions of the nitrogen and carbon cycles
  • Analysing the controls of primary production and carbon storage in natural and managed ecosystems
  • Theory for the regulation of plant water losses under drought
  • Projecting the effects of climate and CO2 change on water resources
  • Quantifying climate feedbacks due to natural emissions of nitrous oxide and methane
  • Developing the next generation of global models based on plant functional traits