Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest (LEAF) Centre

Terrific Scientific Placement

August 10, 2017

By Suzie Robinson

I was working with Cat Scott on my 4 week summer research placement- BBC Terrific Scientific: woodland resources and UK schools.

My project involved analysing the data collected by children in their primary schools all across the UK during the BBC scheme in May. I used i-Tree (a software that provides urban and rural forestry analysis and assesses various services provided by the trees) to analyse individual schools, rural vs urban schools and collectively analyse all the trees measured in the study. I looked at the carbon storage and sequestration of the trees, alongside pollution removal (mainly NO2), avoided runoff and oxygen production. From this I was able to place an approximate value on these key ecosystem services provided by the trees.

I also researched on whether the impact of the urban heat island effect had an influence on the size of trees in urban schools compared to those in rural schools. I used local climate stations to gain information on the average temperatures at the different schools and analysed this with the average size of birch trees (the most common tree) at each school. I further looked at CO2 emissions in different regions in the UK and whether this held any relationship with the size of birch trees.

I selected a primary school in Leeds to analyse in a greater depth and hopefully, in September I will be able to visit the school and share the results from their tree surveying with them. In-between all of this I have been helping Hannah Walker out with the i-Tree Leeds campus survey – up until now I didn’t appreciate how many there actually are! Alongside the struggles of distinguishing specific lime trees!

I will be going into my fourth year of my MEnv BSc Environmental Science degree in September after spending the last year studying (sunbathing) at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I have really enjoyed this research placement and loved having the chance to meet various researchers and PhD students within the School of Earth and Environment, finding out what they have been researching and the wider projects that go on at the University.

I am hoping this next year to be able to stay more involved in Earth and Environment and LEAF and help out on any upcoming projects such as measuring air quality around campus. I am currently still undecided exactly what I want to do after I graduate, with my main interests being in air-quality and meteorology, but this placement has really broadened my knowledge and given me a great insight into a research career.

Thanks Cat!