Dr Lina Mercado
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography


Research interests

I am a plant ecophysiologist & vegetation/biogeochemical modeller. I use observations and computer models to understand how plants respond to climate and in turn how cilmate is affected by vegetation. A current focus of my research is the response of plants to climate change, especially their response to increases in temperature.

Main areas of research include:

Carbon and H20 cycles, photosynthesis, transpiration, radiation interception, nutrient constraints on plant productivity, N and P cycles, plant responses to temperature both globally but also regionally. Current regional work has focus on Amazon, temperate  and boreal ecosystems.

A primary aim of my work is to improve representation of plant physiological processes within earth system models (ESMs) in order to improve predictions of present and future land surface -climate interactions and climate. I have been working with the JULES land surface model of the UK ESM for the past ten years for which I am vegetation theme leader.


I use data  -collected others but also by me- to improve process understanding and representation within models and for model evaluation. As part of various field & modelling projects, I have been involved in the design and execution of field campaigns in the tropics (Amazon: Peru, Ecuador - as part of the RAINFOR consortium; Brazil-  as part of the AFEX project ), semi arid (Mali-  as part of the AMMA project) and temperate regions (BIFOR -FACE Birmingham, as part of the elevated CO2 experiment http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/bifor/face/index.aspx, Wytham woods in Oxfordshire, Bangor - as part of the Surf to Turf project;  and Wetzstein forest in Germany). This includes gas exchange measurements (photosynthesis & respiration) in the tropics (Manaus), and in the temperate forest (various sites in the UK), leaf and wood sampling for leaf mass per area, nutrient analysis, wood density in Amazon forest in Peru and Ecuador, soil respiration in girdled and non-girdled forest in Wetzstein, Thuringia-Germany, and stomatal conductance, soil moisture and surface temperature in Hombori, Mali.

Research projects

MONTANE-ACCLIM -Can tropical Montane forest Acclimate to high temperatures? (£800k NERC UK funded - PI, 2017-2022). We will plant 1200 native tropical trees in the Colombian Andes to study thermal acclimation of key gas exchange processes and growth. 

AMAZON FACE  Model intercomparisson project, participation with JULES-CN.

AFEX -Effects of soil fertility on the carbon cycle of tropical forests: A novel soil fertility manipulation experiment in Amazonia (£600k NERC-UK funded -CoI, 2014-2019).  In this project we will use observations from this nutrient fertilization experiment to understand and model nutrient constraints on Amazon forest productivity. https://amazonfertilisationexperiment.wordpress.com/about/

SAMBBA - South American Biomass Burning Analysis (£5.58 M Consortium grant NERC UK funded - CoI, 2012-2017); our contribution to this project is the quantification of the role of air pollution including aerosols and near-surface ozone on carbon exchange in the Amazon forest. http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/projects?ref=NE%2FJ010073%2F1

Surf 2 Turf - The Multi-Scale Response of Water Quality, Biodiversity and Carbon Sequestration to Coupled Macronutrient Cycling from Source to Sea funded under the Coupled Macronutrient Cycles, (£3.3 M Consortium grant NERC UK funded, work with CEH Wallingford, CoI, 2012-2016). Our role is to use observations to improve modelling of C and H2O cycling in UK ecosystems. http://www.turf2surf.org/progress-and-outputs/river-level-data-conwy-catchment/

ECLAIRE -Effects of climate change and air pollution impacts and response strategies for European Ecosystems (€10 M Consortium grant EU funded, work with CEH Wallingford, CoI, 2011-2013). In this project we use  leaf and plant data to improve the representation of O3 damage in the JULES land surface model aiming to quantify effects of trophospheric O3 on H20 and C cycling in European ecosytems. http://www.eclaire-fp7.eu

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