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


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

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. 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

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

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

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

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

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

Robinson, D, Di Vittorio, A, Alexander, P, Arneth, A, Barton, CM, Brown, D, Kettner, A, Lemmen, C, O'Neill, B, Janssen, M, Pugh, T, Rabin, S, Rounsevell, M, Syvitski, J, Ullah, I & Verburg, P 2018, 'Modelling feedbacks between human and natural processes in the land system', Earth System Dynamics, vol. 9, pp. 895-914.

Wartenburger, R, Seneviratne, S, Hirschi, M, Chang, J, Ciais, P, Deryng, D, Elliott, J, Folberth, C, Gosling, S, Gudmundsson, L, Henry, A, Hickler, T, Ito, A, Khabarov, N, Kim, H, Guoyong, L, Liu, J, Liu, X, Masaki, Y, Morfopoulos, C, Müller, C, Müller Schmied, H, Nishina, K, Orth, R, Pokhrel, Y, Pugh, T, Satoh, Y, Schaphoff, S, Schmid, E, Sheffield, J, Stacke, T, Steinkamp, J, Tang, Q, Thierry, W, Wada, Y, Wang, X, Weedon, G, Yang, H & Zhou, T 2018, 'Evapotranspiration simulations in ISIMIP2a - Evaluation of spatio-temporal characteristics with a comprehensive ensemble of independent datasets', Environmental Research Letters, vol. 13, no. 7, 075001. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aac4bb

Alexander, P, Rabin, S, Anthoni, P, Henry, R, Pugh, T, Rounsevell, M & Arneth, A 2018, 'Adaptation of global land use and management intensity to changes in climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide', Global Change Biology, vol. 24, no. 7, pp. 2791-2809. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14110

Krause, A, Pugh, T, Bayer, A, Li, W, Leung, F, Bondeau, A, Doelman, JC, Humpenöder, F, Anthoni, P, Bodirsky, B, Ciais, P, Müller, C, Murray-Tortarolo, G, Olin, S, Popp, A, Sitch, S, Stehfest, E & Arneth, A 2018, 'Large uncertainty in carbon uptake potential of land-based climate-change mitigation efforts', Global Change Biology, vol. 24, no. 7, pp. 3025-3038. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14144

Schleussner, C-F, Deryng, D, Müller, C, Elliott, J, Saeed, F, Folberth, C, Liu, W, Wang, X, Pugh, T, Thierry, W, Seneviratne, S & Rogelj, J 2018, 'Crop productivity changes in 1.5°C and 2°C worlds under climate sensitivity uncertainty', Environmental Research Letters, vol. 13, no. 6, 064007.

Schurgers, G, Ahlström, A, Arneth, A, Pugh, T & Smith, B 2018, 'Climate sensitivity controls uncertainty in future terrestrial carbon sink', Geophysical Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL077528

View all publications in research portal


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