School of Earth and Environment

Michael O'Sullivan Michael O'Sullivan

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address:
Room: 11.121

Affiliation: Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science


I'm a second year PhD student in the Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) working with Dr. Wolfgang Buermann, Dr. Dominick Spracklen and Prof. Emanuel Gloor (Geography). My research focuses on developing a greater understanding of the mechanisms controlling terrestrial carbon sinks and how these sinks may evolve in a changing climate.

Prior to starting my PhD, I completed an integrated masters degree in Mathematics at the University of Sheffield. My final year project, 'The response of ecosystems to climate change' utilised a simple box model of the terrestrial carbon cycle (DALEC) to investigate the flow of carbon through an undisturbed vegetated ecosystem and investigate the net balance of carbon in the long term.


2010 - 2014 MMath, BSc Mathematics - University of Sheffield

Teaching Interests

  • SOEE1301 Intermediate Mathematics for Environmental and Geophysical Scientists
  • SOEE1540 Physics for Environmental Science
  • SOEE2040 Mathematics for Geophysical and Environmental Sciences 3
  • SOEE3760 Terrestrial Biosphere in the Earth System

Project details

Project title

Investigating Increases in Global Terrestrial Carbon Uptake During the Last Three Decades



EU Marie Curie Integration grant

Project outline

The aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the regional distribution of carbon sinks as well as associated drivers, processes and mechanisms by combining model and observational analysis. The extent at which terrestrial carbon uptake has increased over the last three decades and how this potential increased uptake is linked to anthropogenic emissions directly is a key question not only in academia but for society at large.

We aim to ex-plore several hypotheses on the potential causes of increases in the terrestrial carbon sink including:

  • Increases in the fraction of diffuse/direct radiation associated with East Asian emissions
    have increased plant photosynthetic rates.
  • Increases in nitrogen deposition from East Asian emissions have increased plant carbon uptake.
  • A progressive relaxation of climatic constraints including: 1) warming in northern temperate, boreal and tundra ecosystems 2) increases in rainfall rates over parts of subtropical savannahs 3) increases in atmospheric water vapour content over tropical ecosystems has led to increased plant productivity.