The 2017 UN Food and Agriculture report highlights the risks to global food security as population and urbanisation rise. While the impacts of increasing CO2, temperature and incidence of drought on crop production have received considerable attention, the impacts of deteriorating air quality, which accompany urbanisation and industrialisation, have not. Surface ozone and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are directly toxic to plants, while particulate pollution reduces the levels of sunlight reaching crops. Exposure to these pollutants reduces crop yield and quality. Our recent statistical analysis showed that surface ozone across the USA cost 10% or 33 million tonnes of the country's largest crop, maize. If such losses occur in a developed economy with strong emission controls, what impacts may be expected as pollutant levels rise in developing economies, many of which are also the most vulnerable areas of the globe in terms of food supply?
The interactions between the atmosphere and vegetation are complex and fascinating, but remain poorly understood. This project aims to provide this understanding, critical for developing appropriate regional policies, in 3 important agricultural areas in rapidly developing countries.
You should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Natural or Environmental Science, or a related discipline. Experience of computer programming, and processing and analysing large datasets would be desirable but are not essential as full training and support will be given. Enthusiasm, self-motivation, curiosity and the ability to communicate to a range of audiences would all be distinctly advantageous.
The deadline for applications is 26th February 2018 with interviews scheduled mid- to late-March. The studentship would commence summer/autumn 2018. Further information about the project and how to apply are available at www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/graduate-school/phd/current-opportunities/