School of Geography

Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson

Start date

October 2012

Research topic

Carbon cycling in Arctic lakes

Research supervisors

Primary funding source


School research theme

Environment and Society

Research summary

My research focuses on the Arctic carbon cycle, with the principle aim to develop improved biological markers of terrestrial compared with aquatic carbon in lake sediments. Lakes are a critical part of the global carbon cycle, but it is unclear how responses to climate change may have influenced net heterotrophic and autotrophic lake conditions and subsequent carbon sequestration. 

With future climate warming it is typically assumed that carbon sequestration will increase. However, this largely ignores the importance of terrestrial carbon inputs and the interaction with potentially non-linear lake response and tipping points over the Holocene. Linking past changes in terrestrial dynamics with the carbon cycle will improve our understanding of how future warming may influence carbon sequestration.

Fieldwork for this project will be completed in the Kangerlussuaq area of western Greenland. Lipid analysis, C/N isotope ratios and a novel trial of HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography) will be used to quantify the magnitude and isolate the sources of carbon deposited in Arctic lake sediments.

Conference presentations

  • Stevenson, M.A., McGowan, S., Anderson, N.J., Foy, R.H. and McElarney, Y.R. (2012). Impact of forestry on net ecosystem production in upland lakes of north-west Ireland. 12th International Paleolimnology Symposium. Glasgow SECC 21-24 August, 2012. (Awarded student talk prize)
  • Stevenson, M.A., Jones, M.D. and Weeks, L. (2011). Fire, climate and people a micro-charcoal record of Mammasani District Fars Province, Iran. U21 Undergraduate Research Conference, Fudan University, Shanghai 13-18 July, 2011


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