Name: Rosanne Broyd
Project title: Snow cover regulation of alpine soil ecosystem carbon release
Where based: Lancaster University and James Hutton Institute (Aberdeen)
At undergraduate level, I studied Ecology at the University of Aberdeen with an exchange year to the University of Guelph, Ontario. I returned to Guelph for my undergraduate thesis quantifying moss colonisation in boreal forests a decade following a severe fire season. Over the course of my BSc I developed a strong interest in ecosystem ecology and responses of ecosystem function to disturbance. Before commencing my PhD, I assisted Dr Rob Mills in researching the responses of alpine systems to warming and freezing scenarios. I’m now working towards my doctorate and my research focuses on understanding the role of snow-cover on carbon cycling in alpine ecosystems.
Alpine landscapes have varied topographies and microclimates creating a heterogeneous mix of habitats which are recognised as valuable environments for ecosystem service supply, including water regulation, support of biodiversity and carbon storage. Snow-cover and topography are major controls of plant productivity, nutrient availability and soil temperature and moisture in alpine habitats. Alpine ecosystems are among the most carbon rich habitats globally, with snowbeds as hotspots of carbon cycling and storage. However with climate change, snow-cover duration across Scotland has decreased by over 30% since 1961 and UKCIP scenarios predict winter snowfall reductions of 50% by the 2080s. Little is known about the basic attributes and functioning of alpine habitats or their response to climatic change, including the effects of reducing snow-cover. My research aims to improve understanding of carbon cycling and storage in relation to snow-cover duration, and to improve our ability to predict impacts of climate change on the functioning of alpine ecosystems.