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Research at St Andrews

Kirsty Eleanor Black


Research overview

Supervisors:  Professor William Austin, Dr Richard Streeter, Dr Ian Davies (Marine Scotland), Dr John Baxter (SNH) 

Research Title: Assessing the resilience of Scotland’s Blue Carbon Sediment Stores


Significant coastal stores of carbon (C) have recently been identified from sea bed sediments along Scotland’s west coast. These sediment C stores and their role in the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide represent an extremely important, yet poorly quantified component of Scotland’s natural capital.

There is a growing interest in the potential of these marine sediments to host C that would otherwise contribute to Scotland’s green house gas emissions. However, the stability of these sedimentary C stores under increasing anthropogenic pressure is poorly understood. Via my PhD, I aim to examine and quantify the potential impacts of anthropogenic disturbance (e.g. mobile benthic fishing gears) on the seabed in order to gain a greater understanding of the long-term stability of Scotland’s marine sedimentary C stores. 


I gained my undergraduate degree (BSc. Marine Science with Arctic Studies (Hons), First Class) from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2018. It is throughout my time as an undergraduate that I first became interested in Marine Biogeochemistry. In pursuit of this interest, I took part in several internship placements at both SAMS and The University of St Andrews focusing on quantifying carbon and various radioisotopes within marine sediments; which lead me towards this PhD project. 

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