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Dr Deborah Hemming

Debbie leads a group of scientists studying vegetation-climate interactions. Her personal research is focussed on phenology - the timing of events in nature.

Current activities

Debbie is Scientific Manager of the Vegetation-Climate Interactions (VCI) group which conducts research to improve understanding and modelling of the interactions between vegetation and climate.

She is also Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, Birmingham University, studying the seasonal dynamics of phenology and carbon allocation in the mature woodland Free-Air-CO2 Enrichment experiment.

Debbie's personal science is currently focussed on understanding phenological changes (events in nature, such as the timing of bud-burst in different plant species) and their implications for ecosystem resilience under climate / environmental change.

Current activities include:

Career background

Debbie completed a degree in Physical Geography at Coventry University in 1992 (thesis: 'Sea-ice change in the Eastern Arctic'), an MSc (distinction) in Applied Meteorology and Climatology in Birmingham University in 1994 (thesis: 'A dendroclimatological study of Dartmoor'), and a PhD 'Stable isotopes in tree rings - biosensors of climate and environmental change' in the Plant Sciences Department, Cambridge University in 1998. She then completed two 2.5 year post-doc research positions, one at the University of Arizona, USA, and the other in Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, studying the response of semi-arid forest ecosystems to environmental stress. During this research she used a wide range of field observation techniques, laboratory analyses and model development to try to understand forest ecosystem responses and resilience. She also coordinated a Europe-wide stable isotope study (part of the EU CARBOEUROFLUX project) to understand the response of European forests to climate/environmental variations.

In 2004, Debbie joined the Met Office Hadley Centre as part of the Climate Impacts group. She was involved in, and led, projects on a wide range of climate impacts, including a key UK Ministry of Defence project entitled 'Defence and Security Implications of Climate Change', and the United Nations Development Programme report 'Climate Change and Forced Migration'. She was a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 4th Assessment report WG2 Technical Summary, and lead of the World Meteorological Organisation's Task Team on Climate Risk Management.

In 2008, Debbie spent six months on secondment in London working with both the Climate, Energy and Ozone Science and Analysis team of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Climate Change Committee Secretariat, where she was providing scientific input and guidance for climate policies and parliamentary questions. Part of this work involved science to support the debate of the Climate Change Bill in the Houses of Lords and Commons.

In 2009, Debbie became Scientific Manager of the Vegetation-Climate Interactions group, leading science to improve understanding and modelling of processes in the Earth's system involving interactions between vegetation and climate.

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