Dr Joanna Cloy

Scotland's Rural College

Research Interests

  • Agro-environmental science
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from soils
  • Soil biogeochemistry
  • Characterisation of soil organic matter
  • Biochar properties in soil
  • Environmental geochemistry
  • Heavy metal contaminants
  • Environmental archives
  • Peat bogs
  • Stable and radioactive isotope geochemistry

Research Projects

I am a soil and environmental chemist. My current research focuses on agricultural soil systems (arable and grassland) under different management activities. I am interested in soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation. My most recent research projects involve the investigation of different agricultural land management practices on soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions (particularly nitrous oxide) from agricultural soils across the UK.

Previous Research (2006-2011)

School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh - After gaining my PhD I worked as a Scottish Alliance for Geosciences, Environment and Society (SAGES) Research Fellow (2006-2010), before gaining a temporary Lectureship in Ecological Sciences (2010-2011). As a member of SAGES Theme 2, the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle, my research at the University of Edinburgh involved the study of soil biogeochemical processes (e.g. soil decomposition and chemical mechanisms of soil organic carbon stabilisation) and potential feedbacks to recent climate change.

PhD Research (2002-2006)

School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh - My PhD research involved the study of chemical records of environmental pollution in ombrotrophic peat bogs. The main aims of this research were to use ombrotrophic peat bogs to reconstruct records of past and present atmospheric metal deposition in Scotland.


I am a lecturer for the 'Environmental Protection and Management' and 'Soils and Sustainability' MSc/PG dip programmes at the University of Edinburgh. I am teaching co-ordinator for the ‘Atmospheric Quality and Global Change’ module.

PhD Student Projects

  • Philip Stack - "Potential for carbon sequestration in Scottish hill farms", SRUC Principal Supervisor. Co-supervisors: Prof Bryan Griffiths (SRUC), Dr John Holland (SRUC), Dr Oliver Knox (SRUC) and Dr Saran Sohi (University of Edinburgh)
  • Gemma Miller - "Impacts of agricultural land management on soil carbon sequestration", September 2012-present. SRUC Principal Supervisor. Co-supervisors: Prof Bob Rees, Prof Bryan Griffiths (SRUC) and Dr Saran Sohi (University of Edinburgh)
  • Kim Parmer - "Impact of bioenergy crops on soil greenhouse gas emission and soil carbon conservation", September 2012-present. SRUC Co-supervisor. Other supervisors: Dr Saran Sohi (Principal supervisor, University of Edinburgh) and Dr Niall McNamara (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)
  • Nicola Winning - "Greenhouse gas emissions from Scottish farming systems", April 2011-present. SRUC Co-supervisor. Other supervisors: Prof Bob Rees (Principal supervisor, SRUC) and Dr Saran Sohi (University of Edinburgh)
  • Nancy Burns - "Stability of soil organic matter and the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration", September 2007-2011. Principal Supervisor. Edinburgh University co-supervisors: Dr David Reay and Prof Keith Smith. Abertay University co-supervisor: Dr Wilfred Otten

    Book Chapters

    Cloy J.M., Rees R.M., Smith K.A., Goulding K., Smith P., Waterhouse A. and Chadwick D.R., 2012, Impacts of Agriculture upon Greenhouse Gas Budgets. In Environmental Impacts of Modern Agriculture, (ed. R.E. Hester and R.M. Harrison), Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, Issue 34

    On-line Articles

    Cloy J.M. and Smith K.A., 2013, Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences online reference database, Elsevier, Oxford

    Selected Publications

    • Heal K.V., Waldron S., Austin W.E.N., Ball T., Billett M.F., Bird M.I. et al., Taking stock: the Scottish landscape of carbon cycle research – past achievements, future challenges, Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh [submitted]
    • Bell M., Cloy J.M. and Rees R.M., The true extent of agriculture’s contribution to national greenhouse gas emissions, Environmental Science & Policy [submitted]
    • Falsone G., Wilson C.A., Cloy J.M., Graham M.C. and Bonifacio E., Form and stability of soil organic matter: an integration of image analysis and SEM-EDS with abiotic oxidation on soil thin sections, Biology and Fertility of Soils [submitted]
    • Cloy J.M., Wilson C.A. and Graham M.C., The stabilisation of organic carbon via chemical interactions with Fe and Al oxides in gley soils, Catena [submitted]
    • Chadwick D.R., Cardenas L., Misselbrook T.M., Smith K.A., Rees R.M., Watson C.J., McGeough K.L., Williams J.R., Cloy J.M., Thorman R.E. and Dhanoa M.S., Optimising chamber methods for measuring nitrous oxide emissions from plot-based agricultural experiments, European Journal of Soil Science [accepted]
    • Wilson C.A., Cloy J.M., Graham M.C. and McKenna L., 2013. A microanalytical study of iron, aluminium and organic matter relationships in soils with contrasting hydrological regimes, Geoderma, 202-203, 71-81
    • Topp C.F.E., Wang W., Cloy J.M., Rees R.M. and Hughes G., 2013, Information properties of boundary line models for N2O emissions from agricultural soils, Entropy, 15, 972-987
    • Cloy J.M., Farmer J.G., Graham M.C. and MacKenzie A.B., 2011, Scottish peat bog records of atmospheric vanadium over the past 150 years: comparison with recent deposition and emission trends, Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 13, 58-65
    • Farmer J.G., Eades L.J., Graham M.C., Cloy J.M. and Bacon J.R., 2010, A comparison of the isotopic composition of lead in rainwater, surface vegetation and tree bark at the long-term monitoring site, Glensaugh, Scotland, in 2007, Science of the Total Environment, 408, 3704-3710
    • Farmer J.G., Anderson P., Cloy J.M., Graham M.C., MacKenzie A.B. and Cook G.T., 2009, Historical accumulation rates of mercury in four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs over the past 2000 years, Science of the Total Environment, 407, 5578-5588
    • Cloy J.M., Farmer J.G., Graham M.C. and MacKenzie A.B., 2009, Retention of As and Sb in ombrotrophic peat bogs: records of As, Sb and Pb deposition at four Scottish sites, Environmental Science & Technology, 43, 1756-1762
    • Cloy J.M., Farmer J.G., Graham M.C., MacKenzie A.B. and Cook G.T., 2008, Historical records of atmospheric Pb deposition in four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs: An isotopic comparison with other records from western Europe and Greenland, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 22, GB2016, 1-16
    • Farmer J.G., Cloy J.M., Graham M.C., MacKenzie A.B. and Cook G.T., 2006, Is environmental antimony a potential health problem?, Chinese Journal of Geochemistry, 25, 68-69
    • Farmer J.G., Graham M.C., Yafa C., Cloy J.M., Freeman A.J. and MacKenzie A.B., 2006, Use of 206Pb/207Pb ratios to investigate the surface integrity of peat cores used to study the recent depositional history and geochemical behaviour of inorganic elements in peat bogs, Global and Planetary Change, 53, 240-248
    • Cloy J.M., Farmer J.G., Graham M.C., MacKenzie A.B. and Cook G.T., 2005, A comparison of antimony and lead profiles over the past 2500 years in Flanders Moss ombrotrophic peat bog, Scotland, Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 7, 1137-1147