Dr Thomas Pugh

Dr Thomas Pugh

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Reader in Biosphere-Atmosphere Exchange

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Tom Pugh is a scientist with a keen interest in interactions and feedbacks between the terrestrial biosphere and the global climate system, processes he investigates using powerful computer models. Read more about Tom's research at bioatmo.wordpress.com.


  • BSc (Hons) Environmental Science
  • PhD Environmental Science


Tom completed a PhD at Lancaster University studying the effects of tropical rainforests and oil palm plantations on tropospheric chemistry. He then carried out a postdoc at Lancaster investigating the interactions between plants and urban air pollution, before moving to IMK-IFU in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where he broadened his horizons to work with global vegetation and climate models on questions of land-use change, forest mortality and food security. In 2016 he took up the position of Lecturer in GEES at Birmingham, where his work is closely linked with the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR). In 2018 he became Reader in Biosphere-Atmosphere Exchange at the University of Birmingham.

Postgraduate supervision

Tom Pugh welcomes enquiries from students with interests in the interaction between terrestrial vegetation, biogeochemical cycles and climate. Please contact him if you are interested in working with him on the following core topics, or more generally within this theme.

> Interactions and feedbacks between climate change and forest mortality.
> CO2 fertilisation of vegetation and the global terrestrial carbon sink.
> Effects of biotic agents on forest vitality and biogeochemical cycling.
> How anthropogenic actions modify the structure and function of our forests.


Tom's research investigates the interactions and feedbacks between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere. His particular interests are:

  • Interactions and feedbacks between climate change and forest mortality, including ecosystem disturbances
  • CO2 fertilisation of vegetation and the global terrestrial carbon sink
  • Effects of environmental change and pollution on crop yields
  • How anthropogenic actions modify the structure and function of global forests

Tom is PI of the TreeMort project, which aims to improve our understanding of tree mortality across the globe

His primary tools for investigating these questions are computational models, particularly the dynamic global vegetation model LPJ-GUESS. In previous research he has used the Earth System Model EC-Earth, and outputs from ensembles of global climate models.

Tom has for several years been an active participant in the Global Gridded Crop Model Intercomparison, attempting to answer questions relating to how crop yields and water usage will develop under future climates. His current efforts here are particularly focused on disentangling the response of different crop models to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

He has also worked calculations of carbon emissions from land-use change, including how these are influenced by agriculture, by interactions between climate and society, and by spatial heterogeneities below the spatial resolution of global modelling studies. He continues to work on questions of interactions between the biosphere and society.

Tom's research is explained in more detail in his research lab website: bioatmo.wordpress.com


Recent publications


Papastefanou, P, Zang, C, Pugh, T, Liu, D, Grams, T, Hickler, T & Rammig, A 2020, 'A dynamic model for strategies and dynamics of plant water-potential regulation under drought conditions', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 11, 373. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.00373

Rabin, S, Alexander, P, Henry, R, Anthoni, P, Pugh, T, Rounsevell, M & Arneth, A 2020, 'Impacts of future agricultural change on ecosystem service indicators', Earth System Dynamics, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 357–376. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-11-357-2020

Zohner, C, Mo, L, Pugh, T, Bastin, J-F & Crowther, T 2020, 'Interactive climate factors restrict future increases in spring productivity of temperate and boreal trees', Global Change Biology, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 4042-4055. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15098

McDowell, N, Allen, C, Anderson-Teixeira, K, Aukema, B, Bond-Lamberty, B, Chini, L, Clark, J, Dietze, M, Grossiord, C, Hanbury-Brown, A, Hurtt, G, Jackson, R, Johnson, D, Kueppers, L, Lichstein, J, Ogle, K, Poulter, B, Pugh, T, Seidl, R, Turner, M, Uriarte, M, Walker, A & Xu, C 2020, 'Pervasive shifts in forest dynamics in a changing world', Science, vol. 368, no. 6494, eaaz9463. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaz9463

Hopcroft, P, Ramstein, G, Pugh, T, Hunter, S, Murguia-Flores, F, Quiquet, A, Sun, Y, Tan, N & Valdes, PJ 2020, 'Polar amplification of Pliocene climate by elevated trace gas radiative forcing', National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings.

Franke, J, Müller, C, Elliott, J, Ruane, A, Jagermayer, J & Pugh, T 2020, 'The GGCMI Phase 2 experiment: global gridded crop model simulations under uniform changes in CO2, temperature, water, and nitrogen levels (protocol version 1.0)', Geoscientific Model Development, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 2315–2336. https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-13-2315-2020

Minoli, S, Mueller, C, Elliott, J, Ruane, AC, Jägermeyr, J, Zabel, F, Dury, M, Folberth, C, François, L, Hank, T, Jacquemin, I, Liu, W, Olin, S & Pugh, T 2019, 'Global response patterns of major rainfed crops to adaptation by maintaining current growing periods and irrigation', Earth's Future, vol. 7, no. 12, pp. 1464-1480. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EF001130

Pugh, T, Arneth, A, Kautz, M, Poulter, B & Smith, B 2019, 'Important role of forest disturbances in the global biomass turnover and carbon sinks', Nature Geoscience, vol. 12, pp. 730–735. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0427-2

Folberth, C, Elliott, J, Müller, C, Balkovič, J, Chryssanthacopoulos, J, Izaurralde, RC, Jones, CD, Khabarov, N, Liu, W, Reddy, A, Schmid, E, Skalský, R, Yang, H, Arneth, A, Ciais, P, Deryng, D, Lawrence, PJ, Olin, S, Pugh, TAM, Ruane, AC, Wang, X & Martínez-paz, JM (ed.) 2019, 'Parameterization-induced uncertainties and impacts of crop management harmonization in a global gridded crop model ensemble', PLoSONE, vol. 14, no. 9, e0221862. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221862

Pugh, T, Lindeskog, M, Smith, B, Poulter, B, Arneth, A, Haverd, V & Calle, L 2019, 'Role of forest regrowth in global carbon sink dynamics', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 116, no. 10, pp. 4382-4387. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810512116

Schewe, J, Gosling, S, Reyer, C, Zhao, F, Ciais, P, Elliott, J, Francois, L, Huber, V, Lotze, H, Seneviratne, S, van Vliet, M, Vautard, R, Wada, Y, Breuer, L, Büchner, M, Carozza, DA, Chang, J, Coll, M, Deryng, D, de Wit, A, Eddy, TD, Folberth, C, Frieler, K, Friend, AD, Gerten, D, Gudmundsson, L, Hanasaki, N, Ito, A, Khabarov, N, Kim, H, Lawrence, P, Morfopoulos, C, Müller, C, Müller Schmied, H, Orth, R, Ostberg, S, Pokhrel, Y, Pugh, T, Sakurai, G, Satoh, Y, Schmid, E, Stacke, T, Steenbeek, J, Steinkamp, J, Tang, Q, Tian, H, Tittensor, DP, Volkholz, J, Wang, X & Warszawski, L 2019, 'State-of-the-art global models underestimate impacts from climate extremes', Nature Communications. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08745-6

Matthews, T, Sadler, J, Kubota, Y, Woodall, CW & Pugh, T 2019, 'Systematic variation in North American tree species abundance distributions along macroecological climatic gradients', Global Ecology and Biogeography, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 601-611. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12879

Mueller, C, Elliott, J, Kelly, D, Arneth, A, Ciais, P, Deryng, D, Folberth, C, Hoek, S, Iizumi, T, Izaurralde, RC, Jones, C, Khabarov, N, Lawrence, P, Liu, W, Olin, S, Pugh, T, Reddy, A, Rosenzweig, C, Ruane, A, Sakurai, G, Schmid, E, Skalsky, R, Wang, X, de Wit, A & Yang, H 2019, 'The Global Gridded Crop Model Intercomparison phase 1 simulation data set', Scientific Data, vol. 6, no. 50. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-019-0023-8

Pugh, T, Jones, C, Huntingford, C, Burton, C, Arneth, A, Brovkin, V, Ciais, P, Lomas, M, Robertson, E, Piao, S & Sitch, S 2018, 'A large committed long-term sink of carbon due to vegetation dynamics', Earth's Future, vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 1413-1432. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EF000935

Schelhaas, M-J, Fridman, J, Hengeveld, GM, Henttonen, HM, Lehtonen, A, Kies, U, Krajnc, N, Lerink, B, Ni Dhubhain, A, Polley, H, Pugh, T, Redmond, J, Rohner, B, Temperli, C, Vayreda, J & Nabuurs, G-J 2018, 'Actual European forest management by region, tree species and owner based on 714,000 re-measured trees in national forest inventories', PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 11, e0207151. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207151

View all publications in research portal


vegetation-climate interactions; terrestrial carbon cycle; tree mortality; climate impacts on forests/agriculture; carbon storage in ecosystems