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School of Geography

Dr Emily Lines


Lecturer in Environmental Science

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 6170
Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.01


My research interests combine ecology, remote sensing and the terrestrial carbon cycle, with particular emphasis on forest ecology and data assimilation. I am interested in answering questions on the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, how these vary with environmental conditions and how these will change with climate change. My approach is strongly mathematical and computational and I am interested in applying novel methods for data analysis.


Currently I teach on the following courses:


Research Interests:

My research addresses a broad range of questions around terrestrial ecosystems, covering remote sensing of vegetation, the terrestrial carbon cycle and forest ecology and biogeography, and uses large inventory and remote sensing datasets. In particular I am interested in understanding the controls on large-scale patterns of vegetation dynamics and the impacts of global change on these. I address these questions through the application of mathematical and computational techniques underpinned by an ecological approach. I am also interested in the exploitation of large-scale datasets, both ground-based and remote sensing, to understand vegetation dynamics, and in novel computational and statistical techniques to make the best use of data.

If you are interested in working with me as a postdoc please get in contact and I would be happy to help you identify potential funding sources.

Assimilation of remote sensing data for land surface modelling
This project focuses on finding ways in which land surface process models and may be coupled to radiative transfer models, which model how light is reflected by a vegetation canopy, in order to use remote sensing data to drive large-scale vegetation models. The power of this data assimilation approach is that data and models can be made to be fully consistent, and uncertainties in both observations and models can be dealt with. Multiple data streams, for example from ground and satellite data, or multiple sensors, can be integrated simultaneously.

Environmental controls on forest structure and dynamics
Using inventory data from Spain, New Zealand and the US, I have been conducting research on understanding the role of biotic and abiotic factors on variation in forest structure and demographic rates, and the impact of these on forest carbon dynamics. In particular this has led me to research large-scale patterns of forest mortality rates, a poorly understood component of the terrestrial carbon cycle. I am also interested in environmental controls on tree form and shape and in theories of biological scaling. The use of large-scale inventory data in this research allows for the parameterisation of simulation models which are sensitive to environmental factors and which can then be used to make predictions on the responses of forest dynamics, species distributions and carbon stocks to environmental change.


Please see Google Scholar for an up to date list of my publications.

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Coomes D.A., Flores O., Holdaway R., Jucker T., Lines E.R. and Vanderwel M.C. (2014). Wood production response to climate change will depend critically on forest composition and structure. Global Change Biology.
  • Stephenson N. L., Das A. J., Condit R., Russo S. E., Baker P. J., Beckman N. G., Coomes D. A., Lines E. R. et al. (2014). Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size. Nature.
  • Ruiz-Benito P., Lines E.R., Gómez-Aparicio L., Zavala M.A., Coomes D.A. (2013). Patterns and drivers of tree mortality in Iberian forests: climatic effects are modified by competition. PLoS ONE.
  • Lines, E.R., Purves D.W., Zavala M.A. Coomes D.A. (2012), Predictable changes in aboveground allometry of trees along gradients of temperature, aridity and competition. Global Ecology and Biogeography.
  • Coomes, D.A., Holdaway, R.J., Kobe, R.K., Lines, E.R. and Allen, R.B. (2012), A general integrative framework for modelling woody biomass production and carbon sequestration rates in forests. Journal of Ecology.
  • Coomes, D.A., Lines E.R. and Allen, R.B. (2011), Moving on from Metabolic Scaling Theory: hierarchical models of tree growth and asymmetric competition for light. Journal of Ecology.
  • Lines, E.R., Coomes D.A., Purves D.W. (2010) Influences of forest structure, climate and species composition on tree mortality across the Eastern US. PLoS ONE.

    Technical notes
  • Lines, E.R., Gómez –Dans, J., Quaife, T., Lewis, P. (2014). Interfacing EO data with atmosphere and land models: Impact assessment (land models).
  • Lines, E.R., Quaife, T., Lewis, P. (2013). Interfacing EO data with atmosphere and land models: Optical Radiative Transfer Modelling.
  • Lines, E.R., Quaife, T., Lewis, P. (2013). Interfacing EO data with atmosphere and land models: Vegetation structure.


Postgraduate research opportunities in Earth Surface Science

If you are interested in pursuing a masters or PhD in my research area, please get in contact with me.

Current PhD students