Inaugural Lecture of Professor Nick Kettridge

Teaching and Learning Building
Tuesday 7 June 2022 (16:30-18:00)

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Nick Kettridge

This is an in-person event, Lecture Theatre 1, Teaching and Learning Building at the University of Birmingham.

The lecture will also be streamed live via Zoom Webinar. Registration for the webinar is here. 

We didn’t start the fire; understanding the resilience of global carbon stores to our changing wildfire regime.

Wildfire is a natural component of our environment. But across the globe the size, frequency and severity of wildfires is changing. This is a change that we have started through our impact on the global climate, our landscapes and our place within them. Nowhere are the consequences of these changes more important than in carbon rich peatland ecosystems. These environments have accumulated and now store more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined. How does our changing wildfire regime impact these peatland ecosystems and their legacy carbon store? What mechanisms do these ecosystems hold to resist or to recover from such fires, and will they persist into the future?  Discussing a career to date working in peatland ecosystems and wildfire, the talk will consider these challenges, how we need to move from fighting to living with fire, and the next generation of interdisciplinary wildfire researchers necessary to achieve this. But also, within the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, how we can use our knowledge of the ecosystem response to wildfire to enhance the restoration and reconstruction of ecosystems from wider disturbances.

Nick Kettridge is a Professor of Ecohydrology at the University of Birmingham (UK) and Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta (Canada). His research characterizes the resilience of landscape ecosystem services to both natural and anthropogenic disturbance, notably wildfire. This resilience is controlled by a complex array of interconnected feedback mechanisms that transcend the traditional disciplines of hydrology, ecology, biogeochemistry and micro-meteorology and propagate across both spatial and temporal scales. His research breaks down these boundaries and investigates the essential system interactions that control the response of these services to changing environmental pressures, working at spatial scales ranging from individual biogenic gas bubbles to the continental scale, at timescales ranging from hours to millennia. This research brings together field scale monitoring, field and laboratory manipulations and computer simulations to unravel these complex ecohydrological interactions, providing a process-based understanding of ecosystem functioning. Only through this improved process understanding can we predict the future ecohydrological and biogeochemical responses of environments to changing climatic conditions and disturbances such as wildfire, characterize the resilience of current ecosystem services and develop informed, relevant management and restoration strategies.

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