Dr Peter Alexander

Senior Lecturer in Global Food Security

Background

Increases in changes in climate, increases in human populations, and changes in socioeconomic conditions means that the global land use system will need to adapt to provide the world with food, timber, and other resources. The extent and locations of agriculture and forestry will shift, farmers will change the kinds of crops they grow, and new fertilization and irrigation patterns will emerge. These land use changes may conflict with plans to achieve carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems as a climate change mitigation measure, and likely further increase pressure on biodiversity.

To better understand this web of interconnections, in collaboration with others, I have been leading the development of the Land System Modular Model (LandSyMM).  This includes more detailed yield data and responses to intensity of production (e.g. fertiliser and irrigation use) and a greater spatial specificity than previously possible in other approaches, as well as representing change dynamics in food demand and international trade.  This model has already been used to quantify the impacts of the changes on ecosystem service indicators such as the land carbon balance, runoff, and nitrogen pollution, and explore the impact of future changes in diet on habitat availability in biodiversity hotspots, as well as the reverse—looking at the food security implications of different land conservation scenario.

 

Research Projects

Research Projects on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Research summary

My work focuses on the social, economic and ecological interactions within the food and land use systems, typically applying data and computationally intensive techniques, such as agent-based modelling.  The work considers interactions between climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as how the globalisation of the food system creates teleconnections between actions in one location having consequences in others.  The role of international trade in reducing or exacerbating vulnerabilities to shocks, including geopolitical shocks, is a particular interest.  How land use and food system changes interact with dietary choices and human health, e.g. patterns of food consumption influencing environmental outcomes and environmental changes impacting nutrition and health, are also considered in my research.

I am a lead author for the 2022 IPCC (WGII) report assessing the Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability to climate change.

Research activities

View all 4 activities on Research Explorer

View all 48 publications on Research Explorer