PhD in targeted rewetting of drained peatlands for optimal reductions in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions: Applicants are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Agroecology programme. The position is available from 01 April 2023 or later., Title: PhD in targeted rewetting of drained peatlands for optimal reductions in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions

Research area and project description:
At least 10% of Danish greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from drained cultivated peatlands, and without intelligent rewetting of these areas, the national 70% target of reducing GHG emissions by 2030 cannot be achieved. The national emissions inventory shows that drained peat soils emit 3.4 mil. tons of CO2 per year, corresponding to at least 30% of agriculture’s total GHG emissions. CO2 emission is due to the mineralization of organic carbon, leading to decreased carbon content and peat thickness.

Targeted rewetting of drained agricultural peatlands will reduce the climate impact from these soils. Lowlands in Denmark cover 750 000 ha, of which more than 350 000 ha are agricultural lands with more than 3% C. Peatland soils with more than 12% C in the topsoil cover about 70 000 ha of the agricultural land area. Historically, the peat-covered area in Denmark has been much larger, but approx. 50 000 ha have disappeared due to drainage, cultivation, and mining since 1975. Despite this, peat soils still contain huge amounts of C and can thus, with continued drainage and cultivation, be major sources of CO2 emissions in the future.

The PhD project is embedded in a larger project which will combine existing data with new data on emissions, soil microbiology, vegetation, and soil functional properties such as soil-water retention, gas-phase transport, soil hydrophobicity and remote sensing. Merging these datasets within advanced modelling methods will enable precise delineation of the hotspot areas for CO2 emissions within drained agricultural peatlands. The knowledge generated will significantly increase our understanding of the factors that control emissions in peatlands. The work will provide decision-makers with an important tool to select the areas where rewetting will lead to the largest reduction in CO2 emissions which represents a crucial step to reach the target of a 70% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. The project will also identify additional CO2 mitigation measures for areas unsuitable for rewetting.

The PhD project has the following objectives: a) to model CO2 emissions from drained agricultural peatlands using soil microbiological and physicochemical properties, vegetation, as well as remote sensing data, b) to develop a CO2 emission map of drained agricultural peatlands to optimize the selection of appropriate areas for rewetting,

We are looking for an open-minded, curious person withl interest in soil physics and mapping. The student will participate in i) intense soil sampling campaigns in Danish wetland areas,  ii) laboratory physico-chemical measurement campaigns, and iii) emission mapping of wetland areas.

The student will join a strong team of soil physisist, soil chemists, soil microbiologists, and soil mappers in an international environment where commitment, helpfulness, flexibility, and close collaboration are core values. Our department is internationally recognized for its contribution to sustainable solutions under the Green Transition where especially rewetting of organic lowland soils is a focus area.

Depending on the background and interest of the applicant it will be possible to focus on mainly one of the two mentioned objectives.

Project description. For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. Please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application.

Qualifications and specific competences:
The applicants must have a M.Sc. degree in Soil Science, Agronomy, geology, Environmental Science or closely related fields. Demonstrated  oral and written communication skills in English are required. Basic knowledge of soil physics, chemistry, and microbioology as well as mapping is an advantage. The applicant must be able to present results at international conferences and publish in international peer-reviewed journals. The applicant should be enthusiastic about working in an international and interdisciplinary academic environment. Applications from women and people from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged

Place of employment and place of work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is AU- Foulum Blichers Alle 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark.  

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact

How to apply:
Please follow this link to submit your application. Application deadline is 01 February 2023 at 23:59 CET. Preferred starting date is 1 April 2023.

Please note:

  • The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.
  • Shortlisting will be used, which means that the evaluation committee only will evaluate the most relevant applications.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants. All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background. Salary and terms of employment are in accordance with applicable collective agreement.  

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