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David’s research focuses on modelling nonlinear biosphere-climate feedbacks in the Earth system as part of the 'Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene' (ERA) project, with a particular emphasis on marine-land interactions.
A key task of the ERA project is the analysis of the nonlinear biosphere dynamics governing Earth resilience, in order to improve our understanding of tipping points in biophysical systems. This requires modelling of the key interactions and feedbacks between the planetary boundaries, and assessing the potential for tipping points in one boundary to trigger cascading tipping points in other boundaries. Key interactions include marine biosphere feedbacks such as the impact of climate change on the biological pump, feedbacks between land ecosystems (e.g. the Amazon or Boreal forests) and climate via the water cycle; as well as feedbacks on human activities, such as deforestation or climate mitigation projects (such as BECCS). David will use a selection of Earth System Models (ESMs), ESM components (e.g. LPJ vegetation models, Madingley ecosystem model), and more stylized models to analyse these interactions and their potential for nonlinear dynamics within a socio-ecological framework.
David completed his MSci and PhD at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (University of Southampton). His doctoral thesis used Earth system and biogeochemical modelling techniques to investigate the drivers of perturbations to the Cenozoic carbon-climate system. This included the biogeochemical impacts of events such as the Columbia River Basalt eruptions and the first glaciation of Antarctica, as well as assessing the potential of Early Warning Signals across events like the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
He subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher in NOCS and Southampton’s Geography and Environment Department, including on projects assessing the impact of sustainable intensification on ecosystem services both in England and globally, developing new metrics and models of ecosystem resilience during lake eutrophication. He also used agent-based models to explore the potential benefits of microinsurance cooperatives for vulnerable farmers in coastal Bangladesh.