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Dr Anna Harper

Senior Lecturer, Climate Science


Telephone: 01392 724588

Extension: (Streatham) 4588

My research focuses on interactions between vegetation, climate, and humans. I am interested in better understanding:

- Processes that govern how plants respond to climate extremes and trends in climate change;

- The impacts of climate and human land use on ecosystems;

- Feasibility of land-based mitigation pathways (such as regrowing forests or bioenergy crops).

I primarily use models in my research, supported by observations at sites or from satellites. Lately I have also been combining environmental data and statistics to improve model predictions. I also enjoy supporting student research projects, please get in touch if you are interested in working with me.


Office Hours

Autumn Term 2022: My office hours are Tuesdays (virtual on Teams) and Thursdays, 10:35 - 11:30. My office is in Laver 814e.

PhD projects:

I do not have funding for a PhD project, but if you are self-funded and would like to discuss working with me, please get in touch.  

 Current Projects

NetZeroPlus: The UK has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. New woodlands can make a small contribution to this aim, and they can offer co-benefits such as recreation, provision of timber, biodiversity, and flood reduction. This project aims to provide decision support about the right trees to plant for the UK's future. I lead a work package focused on UK-scale modelling of greenhouse gas removal in trees and soils, and the risks to the stored carbon due to climate change, disease, and other factors. Ultimately, we will build emulators of our models to feed into a novel decision support tool for land owners and policy makers.

ESM2025: This project aims to produce the next generation of Earth system models (ESMs). These models will be better able to support research related to reaching the Paris climate agreement. I lead a work package with Julia Pongratz focused on better representing land-based mitigation in ESMs and developing a methodology to include the biogeochemical and biophysical feedbacks from land use or land cover change for climate mitigation in Integrated Assessment models.

Circular Economy of Timber Buildings: Collaborative project to identify the key questions around the availability of UK-grown timber to provide future construction materials in the UK.

KaLi Project: Kalimantan Lestari means sustainable Borneo in Indonesian. This project works to understand multiple threats from climate change and deforestation for sustainable livelihoods in Indonesian Borneo. I work with Jen Catto and T Davies-Barnard to understand climate and land use change impacts on future droughts and fire risks.




March 2022: Paper demonstrating potential for improving JULES using GP emulators

This paper by Evan Baker describes an emulator of JULES GPP, which we developed to explore the potential for model developments and other applications of emulators of land surface models. This was the result of a short Landscape Decisions grant for which I was PI. We're now using the techniques explored by Evan during this project in the Net Zero Plus project.

  August 2021: New paper published in Nature

The Montreal Protocol protects the carbon sink: For an interesting summary of the paper see this piece in the Conversation written by lead author Paul Young: Repairing the ozone layer is also reducing CO2 in the atmosphere

July 2021:

Congratulations to my PhD student Simon Jones for successfully completing his PhD, titled "The role of non-structural carboyhydrates in predictions of ecosystem carbon fluxes"! Simon will do a post-doc with Peter Cox, working to combine hydraulics and NSCs in JULES.

June 2021: 

New 4 year project ESM2025 starts, an EU Horizon2020 project. We aim to provide the next generation of Earth System Models, to aid in development of ambitious and realistic mitigation and adaptation strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. Post-doctoral researcher Emma Littleton will be working on representing bioenergy crops and forest harvest in JULES.

New paper published: 

Improvement of modeling plant responses to low soil moisture in JULESvn4.9 and evaluation against flux tower measurements, published in GMD. This paper is the result of the large collaborative group, the Soil Moisture Stress JULES Process Evaluation Group, led by myself and Karina Williams, who holds a joint post at the UK Met Office and in the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. We hope it's the first of many papers from the group suggesting vital improvements in the JULES model.

May 2021:

Launch of the 4.5 year project Net Zero Plus, lead by Ian Bateman in the Business School. This project will inform policy decisions on planting of trees over the next 25 years in the UK, linking up environmental, economic, and social considerations to help the UK deliver on its stated aim of Net Zero emissions by 2050. The team includes the National Trust, Forest Research, and more than 20 project partners. Arthur Argles will work on representing forest growth in JULES to support the project.

  July 2020: new paper published

First paper from my PhD student, Simon Jones, is now published in Biogeosciences: The impact of a simple representation of non-structural carbohydrates on the simulated response of tropical forests to drought. This is a crucial step in representing seasonal cycles of plant productivity in forests. Congratulations Simon!


Land-based climate mitigation and negative emissions

Paper in Nature Communications: Land-use emissions play a critical role in land-based mitigation for Paris climate targets.

And I've contributed to policy-relevant summaries of mitigation pathways for Paris, led by the EU CRESCENDO project.

File uploads

Climate change: the science and the solutions Conference talk from Modern Church Conference: Climate Emergency: the search for hope beyond denial and despair [virtual conference], 13 July 2021.