Thomas Pugh

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

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:


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.

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

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.