Dr Jiren Xu

Dr Jiren Xu


I joined the University of Leeds as a Research Fellow in the School of Geography in May 2022. Prior to joining the University of Leeds, I worked as a Research Associate at the University of Glasgow.

Research interests

I am an environmental scientist with an interdisciplinary background. I have developed expertise in the wetland (especially in peatland) ecosystem services, nature-based solutions to climate change, and sustainable development by combining big data analytics, GIS and remote sensing, participatory approaches, and social-ecological and process-based and statistical modelling. I was awarded a PhD in physical geography from the University of Leeds in July 2019, where I specialised in peatland mapping and ecosystem services, particularly in drinking water provision. My interdisciplinary research results are reflected in more than 20 publications (including papers in Nature Sustainability and Nature Climate Change). My research has been identified as top 1% ESI Highly Cited Paper (i.e. PEATMAP paper), featured in the media (e.g. The Times, Mongabay), and quoted in governmental policies (e.g. England Peatland Action Plan).

The project I am currently working on:

  • WaterLANDS: Water-based solutions for carbon storage, people and wilderness. European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. 2021. €23M. Research Fellow: Jiren Xu. Further details at: https://www.waterlands.eu/

The projects which I have led or supported the successful bidding since 2019, include:

  • Social and environmental impacts of Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnamese provinces bordering China and Laos following border closure. UKRI-GCRF/Newton Fund. 2020. £331,409. Researcher Co-Investigator: Jiren Xu. Further details at https://covidborderclosures.wordpress.com
  • A blueprint for the equitable, resilient and ecologically sustainable development of Asia’s deltas. University of Sydney-Glasgow Partnership Collaboration Awards. 2020. $35,950 (AUD) (~£20,000). Co-Investigator: Jiren Xu
  • Peatland restoration as a nature-based solution for reducing flood risk and achieving net-zero in the River Nith Catchment. College of Social Sciences Research Support Fund, University of Glasgow. 2021. £4,831. Principal Investigator: Jiren Xu
  • Integrated approaches towards understanding the scientific and cultural value of wetlands and especially peatlands for climate mitigation. NERC Discipline Hopping call/University of Glasgow cross-disciplinary College fund. 2022. £10,000

Other projects I previously worked on include:

  • OPERANDUM: OPEn-air laboRAtories for Nature baseD solUtions to Manage environmental risks. European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. 2018. €14.7M. Further details at: https://www.operandum-project.eu/
  • River basins as ‘living laboratories’ for achieving sustainable development goals across national and sub-national scales. UKRI Natural Environment Research Council. 2019. £399,237. Further details at: https://luanhelivinglab.home.blog/

Media coverage and contribution:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Physical Geography, University of Leeds, 2019
  • MSc Land Resources Management, China University of Mining and Technology, 2015
  • BEng Land Resources Management, China University of Mining and Technology, 2012

Professional memberships

  • Member of FAO Peatlands and Climate Change Mitigation Group
  • Member of European Geosciences Union
  • Member of American Geophysical Union
  • Member of British Society for Geomorphology
  • Member of British Ecological Society Peatlands Research Group
  • Member of Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • Member of Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment
  • Editorial board member of Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

Research groups and institutes

  • River Basin Processes and Management
  • water@leeds