Professor Andy Baird

Professor Andy Baird


I have a BSc in Physical Geography from the University of Hull and a PhD in soil- and ground-water hydrology from the University of Bristol. I worked briefly at what is now the University of Gloucestershire, spent 11 years at the University of Sheffield as a lecturer, senior lecturer and then reader, and four years at Queen Mary University of London as Professor of Physical Geography and leader of the physical geography group. I have been at the University of Leeds since January 2009 where I work part time (60%). In the rest of my time I am an environmental consultant.


  • Programme Manager BSc Geography with Environmental Mathematics

Research interests

I hold the position of Chair in Wetland Science in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds. My research looks to understand ecosystem dynamics in wetlands, particularly peatlands, with a focus on the water and carbon cycles and on the use of numerical models to simulate these cycles.

Peatlands are globally-important carbon stores (they contain at least a third of the global soil carbon store) and are both sinks and sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide and sources of atmospheric methane. Because of this, they are thought to exert an important control on global climate.

Projects and Funding

Much of my work has been funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Current grants on which I am working are:

  • NERC Valuing Nature Programme: Peatland Tipping Points project:
  • NERC iCASP (Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme): I am a work-stream leader on this programme and am also co-leading iCASP’s Optimal Peatland Restoration project with Dr Julia Martin-Ortega (
  • NERC CongoPeat:

On all of these projects I am overseeing new developments to the DigiBog model which simulates peatland formation, growth and degradation; the model can be used to investigate how peatland function is affected by management and climate change.

Previous recent projects which I have led or been involved in have looked at the carbon balance and functioning of UK peatlands, and include two for Defra:

  • SP1202 (Peatland Restoration Techniques to Achieve Best Outcomes for Methane and Greenhouse Gas Emissions):
  • SP1210 (Lowland Peatland Systems in England and Wales – Evaluating Greenhouse Gas Fluxes and Carbon Balances):

I am also working on smaller projects (peatland recovery from erosion, floodplain peatlands, and peat hydraulic properties) with a range of colleagues from the University of Leeds, and colleagues from Royal Holloway University of London (Dr Alice Milner:, the University of Manchester (Dr Angela Harris:, the University of Exeter (Dr Sophie Green:, and Rigare Ltd (Dr Rob Low, an independent hydrological consultant).

Masters by Research and PhD Supervision

I have been the joint or lead supervisor of three Masters by Research students, 15 PhD students, and six post-doctoral researchers. I welcome Masters by Research and PhD applications in the following general areas:

  • Wetland ecohydrology, in particular controls on water movement through peat soils
  • Carbon balance processes in peatlands, including methane dynamics
  • Computer simulation of peatland development
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc Physical Geography (Hull)
  • PhD Soil- and ground-water hydrology (Bristol)

Professional memberships

  • Editorial Board Ecohydrology (journal)
  • Associate Editor Hydrological Processes (journal)
  • Editor Mires and Peat (journal)

Student education

My teaching covers a wide range of topics. I oversee tutorial teaching in physical geography at the University of Leeds where students learn about the research approaches used by physical geographers. I contribute to field teaching where I specialise in hydrology, soils, and biogeography. In the classroom I teach hydrology and hydrological and environmental modelling. I am also a dissertation supervisor. I have been an undergrdauate external examiner at King's College London and University of Leicester and am currently the external examiner of geography programmes at Lancaster University.

Research groups and institutes

  • River Basin Processes and Management
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>