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Southeast Asia’s forest clearance is climbing to higher elevations at an accelerating rate, resulting in unprecedented forest carbon stock loss
Recently, a joint research team led by the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) shows that forest clearance in Southeast Asia is accelerating during the 21st century, with clearance frontier climbing to higher elevations and steeper slopes with high forest carbon stocks. Forest losses have resulted in a tremendous biomass carbon loss (424 Tg C yr−1), potentially nudging Southeast Asian forests to be a net carbon source in the global carbon budget.Most tropical deforestation is believed to occur in lowlands where forests are easy to access and deforested lands are feasible to plantations. However, recent studies have reported new croplands and plantations converted from mountain forests in Southeast Asia, generating a deeply divided debate on forest dynamics in the region. The study, entitled “Upward expansion and acceleration of forest clearance in the mountains of Southeast Asia,” was published on June 28 in Nature Sustainability. It uncovered forest loss dynamics and associated topographical patterns using multiple high-resolution satellite products of forest change and topography.The authors found that forest clearance in the mountains of Southeast Asia has accelerated during the 21st century, accounting for a third of total forest loss in the region. New plantations primarily drove deforestation at high elevations. Zhenzhong Zeng, who led the research and works as an associate professor at SUSTech, visually interpreted high-resolution satellite imagery in Southeast Asia three years previously. He found substantial mountain forests converted to croplands, although mechanical and intensive plantations in the mountains are not technically possible and economically feasible.“I was shocked by the tremendous deforestation in the mountains and think we should contribute to the sustainable development of forests. My Ph.D. student, Yu Feng, and I worked with Zhenzhong to figure out how Southeast Asia’s forests change. We combined multiple satellite data to quantify forest dynamics and associated topography, and surprisingly found accelerating mountain forest loss in the region,” said Professor Chunmiao Zheng of SUSTech.Figure 1. Example of massive forests that have been lost for cultivations in the mountains of Southeast AsiaThe researchers discovered that the frontier of forest clearance climbed to higher elevations and steeper slopes where forests have high carbon stocks. This means that forest loss shifted to regions with high carbon stocks, resulting in more forest carbon loss than expected. Combining forest loss data with a forest biomass carbon map, they discovered that carbon loss resulting from forest clearance was mainly in the lowlands in the 2000s, e.g., Indonesia. In the 2010s, however, lowland forest carbon loss decreased while mountain forest carbon loss in regions like Myanmar and Laos increased significantly. As mountain forests hold more biomass carbon than lowland forests, accelerating mountain forest clearance exacerbated carbon stock loss in the region.“I have spent three years doing a deforestation project in Nan Province, sponsored by the Kasikornbank and Princeton University, and took many pictures of mountain deforestation there as shown above. I’m glad to see the situation is becoming much better in Nan Province according to our new findings. Unfortunately, the situation of mountain deforestation is becoming worse in many other mountain regions of Southeast Asia,” said Professor Zeng.“Forest loss in the lowlands of Southeast Asia has rightly received a lot of attention, but that has shifted focus from an emerging pattern of extensive loss in the mountains that is increasing rapidly and threatens many species found nowhere else,” said Paul Elsen, Climate Adaptation Scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and one of the co-authors of the study.Although multiple lines of evidence reveal that tropical forests likely act as a neutral contributor to the global carbon cycle, the accelerating clearance of mountain forests with high carbon density portends forest carbon loss in the near future. Consequently, this could potentially nudge Southeast Asia’s forests to be a net carbon source in the global carbon budget. Most deforested lands in the mountains have been turned into croplands, which may further intensify climate warming in the region through biochemical and biophysical feedbacks. The study provides important implications for regional land-use management and climate change adaption and mitigation.Figure 2. Corn and dasheen fields converted from forests in Southeast AsiaIn addition to Associate Professor Zhenzhong Zeng, Yu Feng, Professor Chunmiao Zheng, and Dr. Paul Elsen are also co-authors of this study. Other researchers included Yang Liu, Xinyue He, and Xin Jiang of SUSTech, Professor Alan D. Ziegler of MaeJo University (MJU), and Professors Dominick V. Spracklen and Joseph Holden, both of the University of Leeds.This project was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the start-up fund provided by SUSTech.Paper link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-021-00738-y
SUSTech Ph.D. student receives Foundation of Tang Xiaoyan Environmental Science Innovation Scholarship
Recently, Ying MENG, a Ph.D. student of the School of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), was awarded the third prize of the Foundation of Tang Xiaoyan Environmental Science Innovatio
SUSTech’s Hailong Li joins international team to reveal effects of submarine groundwater discharge on coastal ecosystems
Recently, Professor Hailong Li from the School of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), in collaboration with an international research team including scientists from the University of Gothe
SUSTech Chunmiao Zheng’s team unveils role of groundwater flow in “Asian water tower” areas
The Himalayas are the greatest mountain range on Earth, but these peaks are not just a magnificent spectacle. They are also regarded as “Water towers of Asia”. The Himalayas are critical for supplying water for around two billion people who live downstrea
Researchers collaborate to pinpoint sources of ozone pollution in the Beijing−Tianjin−Hebei area using adjoint modeling
A group of researchers from the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) and Peking University (PKU) collaborated to pinpoint the sources of surface ozone pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area using adjoint modeling. Their research, entitled “Sensitivities of Ozone Air Pollution in the Beijing−Tianjin−Hebei Area to Local and Upwind Precursor Emissions Using Adjoint Modeling”, was published in Environmental Science & Technology, a top journal in the field of environmental science.The Beijing−Tianjin−Hebei area (BTH) of China has experienced severe summertime surface ozone pollution, which poses serious public health risks. The Chinese government has recently strengthened BTH ozone pollution prevention, emphasizing the emission reductions of highly active non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs). For such efforts to be effective, there must be quantitative understandings of the sources of ozone pollution, including the contributing precursors, their spatial origins, and their emitting activities. Adjoint modeling is an efficient method to quantify the source of ozone in the receptor area and can provide speciated, sector-resolved, and spatially-resolved information on the precursors contributing to ozone.Figure 1. Quantifying the sensitivity of surface ozone pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area to local and upwind precursor emissions.Researchers from SUSTech and PKU used the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model’s adjoint to analyze the sensitivity of population-weighted BTH ozone to regional precursor emissions in June 2019 under three different levels of ozone pollution severity: (1) heavily polluted (exceeding 20% or more), (2) slightly polluted (exceeding 0-10%), and (3) non-exceedance.Figure 2. Sensitivities of population-weighted BTH MDA8 surface ozone concentrations to a 10% increase of precursor emissions (unit, 10−3 ppb) over North China on BTH heavily polluted days in June 2019.The study showed that during heavily polluted days (Figure 2), BTH ozone was highly sensitive to emissions from BTH and south of BTH in the Shandong, Henan, and Jiangsu region (SHJ). To mitigate heavy BTH ozone pollution, the most effective measures entailed reducing NOx (from industrial process and transportation), ≥C3 alkenes (from on-road gasoline vehicles and industrial processes), and xylenes (from paint use) emitted from both BTH and SHJ, and CO (from industrial processes, transportation, and power generation) and ≥C4 alkanes (from industrial processes, paint and solvent use, and on-road gasoline vehicles) emissions from SHJ.Figure 3. Sensitivities of BTH ozone to four anthropogenic NMVOC species (≥C4 alkanes, ≥C3 alkenes, xylenes, and toluene) on heavily polluted days. Sensitivities are segregated for the emitting activities and the provinces/cities of emission.NMVOC species are emitted from a wide range of anthropogenic activities. As such, species-based emission reductions may be difficult to implement and manage. In comparison, sector- or subsector-based emission reduction actions target key emitting activities, where emissions can be controlled by improving or substituting processes and technologies. By further mapping the sensitivities to the subsector NMVOC emissions (Figure 3), this study pointed out the key NMVOC emission activities that should be targeted: paint use (for architecture, vehicles, wood products, and other products), on-road gasoline vehicles, and industrial processes (mainly including coking, oil refinement, distribution and storage of oil/gas, and chemical production).This research pinpointed the key areas and sectors that should be targeted in regionally-coordinated emission reduction efforts and provided a concrete and feasible way for improving the ground-level ozone air quality in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei. The methodology can also be applied to address ozone pollution issues in other parts of the country.Xiaolin Wang, a Ph.D. student at PKU, is the first author of this study. Professor Tzung-May Fu of SUSTech and Professor Lin Zhang of PKU are the corresponding authors. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation of Guangdong Province. Computational resources were provided by the Center for Computational Science and Engineering at SUSTech.Paper link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.1c00131
SUSTech's Environment and Ecology discipline enters ESI's global top 1%
On May 13, 2021, Clarivate Analytics released the latest Essential Science Indicators (ESI) ranking data. For the first time, the Environment and Ecology discipline at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) ranks among the top 1% of all institutes in the world. This makes Environment and Ecology the fifth discipline at SUSTech to rank within the top 1% of the world, following Chemistry, Materials Sciences, Engineering, and Clinical Medicine.The ESI ranking is based on citation statistics for the period from 2011 to 2021. During this time, a total of 544 ESI papers on environmental science and ecology were published, with a total of 4785 citations. These papers were mostly published by faculty and students from the School of Environmental Science and Engineering, the Department of Ocean Science and Engineering, and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The School of Environmental Science and Engineering was established in May 2015. The fact that the Environment/Ecology discipline is ranking top 1% in the world after only six years is a testament to its rapid development and the high quality of its research.The ESI is an analytical tool that helps identify top-performing research based on the Web of Science Core Collection. ESI surveys more than 12,000 journals worldwide to rank authors, institutions, countries, and journals in 22 broad fields based on publication and citation performance. The data covers a rolling 10-year period and includes bi-monthly updates to rankings and citation counts. It should be noted that ESI is only a partial reflection of scientific research performance, and it is not the sole indicator of academic excellence and innovation.
SUSTech Zuotai Zhang’s team makes advanced progress in solid amine CO2 capture materials
China is an active participant in global climate governance and insists on promoting CO2 mitigation. General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the ambitious goal of striving to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 at the 75th United Nations General Assembly. The development of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technology can avoid CO2 emissions from industrial emission point sources and reduce the CO2 already in the atmosphere. It is an important part of achieving the goal of “carbon neutrality”, and is of great significance for deep decarbonization, large-scale production of low-carbon hydrogen energy, low-carbon power supply, and realization of negative emissions.Recently, Professor Zuotai Zhang and Research Assistant Professor Feng Yan from the School of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), innovatively prepared a series of low-cost, green, and efficient porous nano-SiO2/Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents using solid waste as the main raw materials. These results have been published in the well-known journals of Environmental Science & Technology and Chemical Engineering Journal in the environmental and energy fields.Figure 1. Preparation and carbon neutralization application of solid waste-derived nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbentsThe porous nano-Al2O3 support was firstly synthesized from high-aluminum coal fly ash, and the active PEI was then impregnated on the nano-Al2O3 support to prepare the solid amine CO2 adsorbent, which possessed a superior CO2 adsorption capacity of 136 mg·g-1. Significantly, this solid amine CO2 adsorbent showed stable adsorption capacity even regenerated under the pure CO2 atmosphere, and its CO2 adsorption capacity still maintained as high as 111 mg·g-1 adsorbent after 10 cycles, which was 5.5 times higher than that of traditional nano-SiO2 supported solid amine adsorbents. Therefore, this technical route, which can realize the high-value utilization of coal fly ash and significantly improve the cyclic stability of solid amine adsorbent regenerated under the pure CO2 atmosphere, has broad application prospects in CO2 capture and separation processes such as industrial source CO2 capture and biogas upgrading. This research, entitled “Highly efficient and stable PEI@Al2O3 adsorbents derived from coal fly ash for biogas upgrading”, was published in the Chemical Engineering Journal.On this basis, the research group continued to study in-depth the interaction mechanism of support-organic amine and the anti-urea chain formation mechanism of nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents. The results have shown that the unique cross-linking reaction between nano-Al2O3 support and organic amine molecules significantly inhibited the formation of urea chains in nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents during the cyclic adsorption-regeneration process, thereby greatly improving the cyclic stability of CO2 adsorption capacity.The study further verified the long-term cyclic stability of nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents, whose adsorption capacity decreased by only 29% after 100 cycles regenerated under the pure CO2 atmosphere. This work not only clarifies the CO2 adsorption cycle stabilization mechanism of nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents, but also provides design ideas for the development of new high-stable solid amine CO2 adsorbents with anti-urea properties. This research, entitled “Biogas Upgrading via Cyclic CO2 Adsorption: Application of Highly Regenerable PEI@nano-Al2O3 Adsorbents with Anti-Urea Properties”, was published in Environmental Science & Technology.Figure 2. The cross-linking mechanism between nano-Al2O3 support and organic amine moleculeChunyan Li, a master’s student from the ESE at SUSTech, and Xuehua Shen, a doctoral student supported by the joint Ph.D. program between SUSTech and Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), are the first authors of these two papers, respectively. Professor Zuotai Zhang and Research Assistant Professor Feng Yan from the ESE at SUSTech are the co-corresponding authors. SUSTech is also the first affiliation and communication affiliation of these papers.These studies were supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the National Key R&D Program of China, Shenzhen Science, Technology and Innovation Committee (SZSTI), and the Pearl River Scholars Funding Program for Higher Education Institutions in Guangdong Province.Paper links:Chemical Engineering Journal link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cej.2020.128117Environmental Science & Technology link: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c07973
SUSTech Chair Professor Junguo LIU receives Shenzhen Labor Day medal
Recently, the city of Shenzhen celebrated International Labor Day (May 1st) and held a commendation ceremony. Junguo LIU, Chair Professor of the School of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech
China is an active participant in global climate governance and insists on promoting CO2 mitigation. General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the ambitious goal of striving to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 at the 75th United Nations General Assembly.
Recently, Chair Professor Junguo Liu’s research group from the School of Environmental Sciences & Engineering at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), in collaboration with scholars from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Michiga
SUSTech丨Global Scientist Interdisciplinary Online Forum • 2021
 1. IntroductionThe Global Scientist Interdisciplinary Forum at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) is an important conference for outstanding talent recruitment. It aims to provide a platform for academic exchange among scholars at home and abroad, to promote interdisciplinary and academic innovation, and discuss approaches for the development of world-class universities and disciplines. Through the recruitment of world-class talents, we plan to build SUSTech into a high-level research university with unique characteristics. 2. Forum ScheduleDate of Main online Forum: January 9, 2021 (Saturday)(9 a.m. Beijing Time, Main forum live)(9 p.m. Beijing Time, Main forum replay)Date of Sub-forum Presentation: January 10-17, 2021 3. Recruiting Categories· Senior Faculty (Chair Professor / Professor)· Junior Faculty (Associate / Assistant professor)· Post-doctoral Talents (Open to application. Interviews to be organized by individual research groups) 4. Application Materials and MethodsApplication due date: December 31, 20201) Application materials· Resume· Cover letter· Representative papers (published in the recent 5 years), representative works· Honors and awards· Research proposal2) How to applyPlease submit all your application materials to the institutional mailbox of SUSTech Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies (aais@sustech.edu.cn) and the School of Environmental Science and Engineering mailbox (iese@sustech.edu.cn), entitled “SUSTech Global Scientist Interdisciplinary Forum Application - School of Environmental Science and Engineering – Faculty Position" for evaluation. We will evaluate your application and send out invitations as soon as possible. Please send materials at your earliest convenience since the registration is limited. Successful applicants will receive the invitation before January 5, 2021.  5. Contact InformationMs. Yuanyuan SUTel: +86-755-88010822Email: iese@sustech.edu.cn 6. Qualifications and BenefitsSenior Faculty (Chair Professor / Professor)1.RequirementsCandidate of national-level talent programs,tenured professor or associate professor of overseas well-known universities or research institutions, leading talent with internationally recognized achievements. 2.Support PoliciesResearch funds:will be discuss case by case.Group support:  At least 1 PhD student per year and unlimited numbers of post-doctoral fellows in support. Self-determination of hiring research assistant professors (RAPs) with competitive research funding support for RAPs.Lab space about 150 square meters per person. 3.RemunerationSalary: Globally competitive salary; Preferential policy of individual income tax, income tax of qualified high-level talents will be compensated by local government to a maximum of 15% (tax free).Insurances: Shenzhen’s highest level of retirement insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, industrial injury insurance, maternity insurance and housing provident funds. Special high-level health insurance is negotiable.4.BenefitsHousing and subsidies: Temporary on-campus apartments provided or subsidies to support off-campus rental housing. No less than CNY 4.5 million living and housing subsidies (tax free) for scholars of national-level talent programs. An extra yearly subsidy of CNY 500,000 will be awarded to scholars within “Pearl River Talents Plan” (longest duration 5 years).Other benefits: Permanent residence or resident visa service for scholars and family (spouse and children); Service of children’s education in SUSTech affiliated preschool, primary school and middle school; Spouse’s employment service. Junior Faculty (Associate / Assistant professor)1. RequirementsUnder the age of 40.Doctoral degree obtained from internationally renowned universities and institutes; or Ph.D. degrees from Chinese universities and more than 36 months of overseas work experience, with a formal teaching or research position in famous overseas universities and research institutes.2.  Support PoliciesResearch funds: Up to CNY 12 million / 6 million in research start-up funding is provided by local government and the university within 5 years.Group support: At least 1 PhD student per year and unlimited numbers of post-doctoral fellows in support. Self-determination of hiring research assistant professors (RAPs) with competitive research fund support for RAPs.Lab space of approx. 150 square meters per person. 3. RemunerationSalary: Globally competitive salary; Preferential policy of individual income tax, income tax of qualified high-level talents will be compensated by local government to a maximum of 15% (tax free).Insurances: Shenzhen’s highest level of retirement insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, industrial injury insurance, maternity insurance and housing provident funds. Special high-level health insurance is negotiable.4. Benefits Housing and subsidies: Temporary on-campus apartments provided or subsidies to support off-campus rental housing. No less than CNY 2.75 million living and housing subsidies (tax free) for scholars of national-level talent programs. An extra yearly subsidy of CNY 500,000 will be awarded to scholars within “Pearl River Talents Plan” (longest duration 5 years).Other benefits: Permanent residence or resident visa service for scholars and family (spouse and children); Service of children’s education in SUSTech affiliated preschool, primary school and middle school; Spouse’s employment service. Post-doctoral Talents (Open to application. Interviews to be organized by individual research groups)      1.RequirementsUnder the age of 35No more than 3 years of obtaining doctoral degree with demonstrable academic and scientific research excellence.2.RemunerationSalary: Pre-tax annual salary not less than CNY 335,000 (including provincial and municipal subsidies); For President Outstanding Post-doctors, pre-tax annual salary not less than 507,000 CNY (including provincial and municipal subsidies).Insurances: Shenzhen’s highest level of retirement insurance.3.BenefitsHousing and subsidies: Temporary on-campus apartments provided or subsidies to support off-campus rental housing.  No less than CNY 1.6 million living and housing subsidies (tax free) for scholars who meet the requirements of high-level talents in Shenzhen. Other benefits: Permanent residence or resident visa service for scholars and family (spouse and children); Service of children’s education in SUSTech affiliated preschool, primary school and middle school.About SUSTech Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) is a research-oriented public university founded in Shenzhen, China’s innovation center, to serve as a model for reforming the education system and modernizing the national university system. SUSTech has learned from world-class research institutions spanning the globe and has planned its academic disciplines based on the major needs and strategic industries emerging around the Pearl River Delta region. With a major focus on science and engineering, SUSTech still has substantial research focuses in medicine, humanities and social sciences, to maximize the potential for new ideas across disciplines for new knowledge, new technologies and social development. With the characteristic of research, innovation and entrepreneurship, the unique spirit of hard work, SUSTech aims to attract high-quality talents to its faculty, cultivate outstanding and innovative graduates, achieve internationally excellent research outcomes, advance knowledge and promote the application of science and technology, and to become a world-class research university.  Currently, SUSTech has 25 departments / schools (as listed below). There are about 1044 faculty members,including about 500 tenure / tenure-track professors, 44 academicians and fellows of academies; more than 40% of faculty members are high-level talents. There are currently 7639 students enrolled at SUSTech, including 4422 undergraduate students and 3217 graduate students (1583 PhD students and 1634 masters students). Since 2016, according to National science and technology statistics of ordinary colleges and universities, SUSTech's research fund of per faculty member has maintained a level of more than CNY 1 million, ranking among the top 5 universities in China. SUSTech has been granted 1 National research platform,19 Guangdong Provision-level and 41 Shenzhen City-level research institutes/laboratories. In 2020, SUSTech was ranked No.18 in the “Nature Index” among all mainland universities of China, No.66 among worldwide universities. On September 2, 2020, Times Higher Education (THE) released its THE World University Rankings 2021, with SUSTech maintaining its top ten ranking in mainland China, ranking equal eighth, and ranking between 251st and 300th in the world. SUSTech School of Environment The School of Environmental Science and Engineering was founded in May 2015, in response to the strategic development needs of environmental protection in China. The Founding Dean, Prof. Chunmiao Zheng, is a world-renowned expert in groundwater research. The current Dean, Prof. Xin Yang is a renowned expert in the field of atmospheric chemistry and air pollution. The School has focused on conducting cutting-edge research and cultivating talents in water resources and water quality, soil science and remediation, air pollution control, industrial ecology, global environmental change, and related areas. In addition, the School is developing advanced technologies for water treatment, desalination, energy saving and emission reduction, and environmental remote sensing, in order to meet the urgent needs of the society.The School currently has 68 fulltime faculties and research staffs, including many recipients of national and international awards and honors. Many of our faculty members serve on the editorial boards of leading international journals and major international committees. The School is planning to recruit 20 more tenure-track/tenured positions over the next 3 to 4 years to enhance and expand our research. The School currently has two undergraduate majors approved by the Ministry of Education: the Environmental Science and Engineering Major, which is an Advanced Key Discipline in Guangdong Province, and the Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering Major. The School has graduated 130 students and the current undergraduate body includes more than 80 students. Since 2016, the School has enrolled more than 260 graduate students, 50 graduate students have now obtained their degrees. The School has been granted 1 State Key lab, 1 Guangdong Provincial Key lab, 1 Guangdong Provincial Research Center, 3 Shenzhen City Key labs. The School’s major research directions include hydrology and water resources, environmental biogeochemistry, water pollution and treatment, soil and groundwater remediation, solid waste disposal and utilization, atmospheric chemistry and pollution control, ecological system assessment, environmental remote sensing, and global environmental change. We welcome talented scholars in these fields from all over the world to join us, with the goal of building a world-class multi-disciplinary environmental research center that will lead the solution of environmental problems in China and in the World. We welcome all eligible scholars both in China and overseas to apply for and attend the Global Scientist Interdisciplinary Forum! 
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