Thomas Sim

Thomas Sim


I am a final year PhD candidate funded by a NERC DTP scholarship, researching the response of peatlands to recent climate change. I completed a Masters by Research and undergraduate studies in BSc Geography also at the University of Leeds, with the latter including a study abroad year at the University of Queensland, Australia. 

Research interests

I am interested in all aspects of palaeoecology and environmental change. My interest in peatlands comes not only from an appreciation of their aesthetics or their ability to sequester carbon and support biodiversity, but in the story of environmental and cultural change preserved within them.

This knowledge of past environmental change provides context to the contemporary challenges we face and helps inform policy decsions.  

Project overview:

  1. In the first chapter of my PhD I investigated the divergent response of permafrost peatlands to recent climate change in northern Sweden. This work highlighted the complex dynamics of permafrost peatlands – particularly in relation to autogenic factors - and warns against an overly-simple approach when considering their ecohydrological trajectories and role as C sinks under a warming climate.
  2. In my second chapter I examined the ecology of peatland testate amoeba on Svalbard and developed a new transfer function to reconstruct past hydrological conditions and pH. These models are the most northerly of their kind and enable further research into the long-term ecohydrological dynamics of these rapidly warming high-latitude ecosystems.
  3. In my final chapter I am working on the collaborative project HOLOPEATFIRE, a global-scale analysis of peatland fires during the Holocene. If you have charcoal data from a peatland with an associated chronology (e.g. 14C, 210Pb) and would like to contribute data, please get in touch.


  • MSc by Research, University of Leeds
  • BSc (Hons), Geography (International), University of Leeds

Research groups and institutes

  • Ecology and Global Change
  • River Basin Processes and Management