Department / group: Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Sciences
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Research interests:

Global change impacts on ecosystems, soils, agricultural and land based options to mitigate climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, environmental and agricultural sustainability, global carbon cycle, ecosystem modelling, food security, ecosystem services, bioenergy (including BECCS)

Career history:

After obtaining a PhD in 1991, Pete Smith worked as a Higher- then Senior-Scientific Officer at the MAFF Central Science Laboratory until 1994. He then worked as a Band 6 and Band 5 Senior Research Scientist at Rothamsted Research before joining the University of Aberdeen as a Senior Lecturer in 2001. He became a Reader in 2003, and Professor of Soils & Global Change in 2005. His main areas of expertise are in modelling greenhouse gas / carbon mitigation, bio-energy for fossil fuel offsets, and biological carbon sequestration. He is co-leader with Prof Jo Smith of the Environmental Modelling Group (2 Academic staff, 16 Post-docs, 12 PhDs). He is Science Director of Scotland’s Climate Change Centre of Expertise (, Director of Food Systems of the Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops (, and is Theme Leader of the University-wide theme, Environment and Food Security ( He is editor for Global Change Biology and Global Change Biology Bioenergy.

He was a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award holder (2008-2013), Royal Society Research Fellow (2008-2013), and is a Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSB; elected 2008), Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE; elected 2009), and a Rothamsted Research Fellow (2010-2016).

Active research projects:

Numerous projects on the above areas funded mainly by the research councils and the EU. Recent projects include:

Saana Tykka’s PhD fund ; James Hutton Institute 01/10/12-31/03/16

Permafrost catchments in transition: hydrological controls on carbon cycling and greenhouse gas budgets; NERC 01/10/12-31/09/16

FACCE-JPI MACSUR Cropland Hub; BBSRC 01/08/12-31/07/15

EFS Theme Budget; University of Aberdeen 01/09/12-31/08/13

Saana Tykka – 51232501 -RTSG PhD funding; University of Aberdeen 01/09/12-31/03/16

Joseph Oyesiku-Blakemore – 51233548-RTSG PhD funding; University of Aberdeen 01/09/12-31/03/16

GREENHOUSE; NERC 01/04/13-31/03/17

Pete Smith secondment to the JHI (10%); James Hutton Institute 01/08/12-31/03/16

The Counterfactual land uses to bioenergy crops (Phase I and II); DECC 01/12/12-31/01/14

Capture crop and grassland management impact in UK soil carbon LULUCF Inventory; Defra 22/10/12-28/02/14

Wales Glastir Axis II Project; Welsh Government 01/05/13-31/08/14

Khadiza Begum PhD fund; CLSM 01/08/13-30/07/16

Henri de Ruiter’s PhD fund; EFS Theme 01/10/13-31/03/17

Impacts of sugar cane production in Brazil; BBSRC 31/07/14-30/07/18

Genome-wide association mapping and landscape scale modelling of heritable ionomic diversity in Arabidopsis thaliana populations; BBSRC 01/09/13-31/08/16

BALI project 01/04/14-31/03/18

Recent publications:

Smith, P., House, JI., Bustamante, M., Sobocka, J., Harper, R., Pan, G., West, P., Clark, J., Adhya, T., Rumpel, C., Paustian, K., Kuikman, P., Cotrufo, MF., Elliott, JA., McDowell, R., Griffiths, RI., Asakawa, S., Bondeau, A., Jain, AK., Meersmans, J. & Pugh, TAM. (2016). ‘Global Change Pressures on Soils from Land Use and Management’. Global Change Biology, vol 22, no. 3, pp. 1008-1028.

Bennetzen, EH., Smith, P. & Porter, JR. (2016). ‘Decoupling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Global Agricultural Production: 1970 – 2050’. Global Change Biology, vol 22, no. 2, pp. 763-781.

de Ruiter, H., Macdiarmid, JI., Matthews, RB., Kastner, T. & Smith, P. (2016). ‘Global cropland and greenhouse gas impacts of UK food supply are increasingly located overseas’. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol 13, no. 114, 20151001.

Smith, P. (2016). ‘Soil carbon sequestration and biochar as negative emission technologies’. Global Change Biology, vol 22, no. 3, pp. 1315-1324.

Liu, X., Zheng, J., Zhang, D., Cheng, K., Zhou, H., Zhang, A., Li, L., Joseph, S., Smith, P., Crowley, D., Kuzyakov, Y. & Pan, G. ‘Biochar has no effect on soil respiration across Chinese agricultural soils’. Science of the Total Environment, vol 554-555, pp. 259-265.