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Research interests:

There has been increasing research to investigate freshwater reservoirs as potential sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, measurements have been biased towards Brazil, Canada and China. The IPCC’s 2013 Wetland Supplement omitted reservoirs due to limited data. Reservoir GHG production is influenced by numerous factors, for example: soil type, water temperature, residence time, stratification and drawdown events. Understanding of current emissions is an important step in predicting how emissions will change under future climate scenarios and climate variability. Larger water level fluctuations may lead to greater emissions due to water pressure changes influencing ebullition. In addition, reservoir numbers may increase due to water shortage or flood protection requirements.

This project will address two key research questions: i) do reservoirs currently represent a significant GHG source in the UK, and ii) how is this likely to change in the future? This will be delivered through a variety of field campaigns and laboratory work: diffusive GHG flux measurements using floating chambers, GHG concentrations calculated via manual headspace analysis, methane ebullition by inverted funnels, diffusive flux from drawdown soils using static chambers, and a sediment core experiment to test water level fluctuation.

Career history:

Present: PhD “Greenhouse Gas Release from UK Reservoirs” Supervisors: (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), Professor Michael Billett (University of Stirling), Professor Susan Waldron (University of Glasgow)

Active research projects:

IAPETUS doctoral training partnership (

Recent publications:

McDonald, R., and Knox, O. G. G. (2014).Cold Region Bioremediation of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Soils: Do We Know Enough? Environmental Science & Technology, 48 (17), 9980-9981.