Matt has a broad interest in the global carbon cycle and a particular focus on the roles of landscape fires and fossil fuel combustion in this cycle.
The Global Carbon Budget
Matt contributes to the Global Carbon Project (GCP). Each year, the GCP evaluates the global carbon budget by accounting for emissions of CO2 from fossil sources, deforestation and other land use changes, the uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans, and the CO2 that remains in the atmosphere.
Matt contributed to the GCP’s 2019 and 2020 assessments of the global carbon budget (Friedlingstein et al., 2019; 2020; Earth System Science Data).
Fire Emissions and Legacy Effects
Matt’s research has focussed on the legacy effects of fire on the land and aquatic carbon cycles. Historical fires influence the modern carbon budget, while present-day fires will continue to influence the carbon budget in the coming decades, centuries and even millennia. The legacy effects of fire include: the long-term uptake of carbon through vegetation recovery, which is modulated by changes in vegetation cover; associated changes in soil carbon stocks; changes in the quality of soil carbon through storage of combustion by-products such as charcoal and ash (known as as “pyrogenic carbon”); and, the export of pyrogenic carbon to oceans via rivers.
Matt recently led key studies that estimated the global-scale production of pyrogenic carbon (Jones et al., 2019, Nature Geoscience) and the export of pyrogenic carbon from land to ocean via rivers (Jones et al., 2020, Nature Communications).
Fossil Fuel Emissions
Matt recently led the development of a new gridded fossil emissions dataset (GridFED) that extends the GCP’s national estimates of CO2 emissions from (Jones et al., 2020, Scientific Data). GridFED is used in conjunction with atmospheric measurements of CO2 to mathematically derive the uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans using inverse models. GridFED helps to constrain the global carbon budget using observational data leading to key insights into the regional distribution of carbon sinks and their seasonality (Friedlingstein et al., 2020, Earth System Science Data).
Matt also contributed to recent estimates to evaluate the impact of international lockdowns during 2020, which were implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on fossil CO2 emissions (Le Quéré et al., 2020, Nature Climate Change).
Matt completed his PhD in Physical Geography at the University of Exeter, where his thesis evaluated the impacts of fire on the quantity and quality of carbon flowing through rivers.
He went on to research the legacy effects of fire on the land carbon cycle at Swansea University.
In 2019, Matt joined UEA’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. His work at UEA focuses on the global and regional impact of climate change on wildfires, their emissions and their legacy effects on land carbon storage. He also contributes to the Global Carbon Project, which is an international effort to account for all major emissions and sinks of carbon on an annual basis.