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Head of Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
David Large is a member of the Geohazards and Earth Processes research group.
My main research expertise is in peatland systems in particular the use of satellite measures of surface motion to quantify peat condition, peat mechanics and quantifying the response to peat restoration measures.
Other interests include the use of peat, lignite and coal to understand the earth system and fossil energy resources.
My current research focusses on the dynamics of peatland systems. I am currently running two projects using satellite radar (InSAR) to characterise the surface motion "bog breathing" of peatland. The… read more
My current research focusses on the dynamics of peatland systems. I am currently running two projects using satellite radar (InSAR) to characterise the surface motion "bog breathing" of peatland. The seasonal surface motion of peat landscapes can then be used to quantify peat condition and carbon emissions. Changes in water storage and the surface energy balance appear determine surface motion. Satellite techniques have the potential to transform our understanding or peatland dynamics across whole landscapes and regions. The dynamic characteristics are particularly powerful as unlike vegetation they are highly responsive to change. The key site for our investigation is Flow Country, Northern Scotland and the NERC funded InSAR Tops Soil Security Programme project is determining the accuracy of using of the satellite methods to quantify peatland surface motion over the Flow Country in Northern Scotland. In other projects, I am using peat records to quantify dust deposition over the Falkland Islands. Past research includes work on peats through earth history and including landscape control on peat, lignite and coal deposits, using coal and lignite to determine palaeo-dust deposition rates and calculate the amount of time contained within thick coal deposits.
In the past my research interest have been many and varied ranging from the petrology and formation of black shale copper deposits, organic geochemistry, oil shales, black carbon and the link between coal composition and health. Much of my previous research focussed on understanding time in coal with a view to understanding the limits to long term peat accumulation. The most important finding was the demonstration that peat can accumulate continuously for periods exceeding 1 million years. An observation that raises profound questions with respect to the physical limits to peat growth in non-subsiding terrestrial systems
My future research aims to understand the mechanics and dynamic behaviour of peatland systems under different climate conditions. To achieve this I am looking for PhD students with an interest in remote sensing and the application of mathematical modelling to peat. Potential project topics include:
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