DURHAM, N.C. – Sonia Silvestri, adjunct assistant professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been awarded a prestigious Marie Slodowska-Curie Fellowship to support her research on peatlands.

Sonia Silvestri

Curie Fellowships are funded by the European Commission to enhance research opportunities and career development for scientists working in fields of critical importance.

Silverstri was awarded a two-year fellowship to fund her work on the detection and quantification of peatlands at the regional scale, and to pursue hands-on training in advanced geospatial data analysis technologies.

Her project, “Combining Remote Sensing Technologies for Peatland Detection and Characterization,” combines data from passive and active satellite remote sensing with geophysical field data collected from airborne platforms to quantify and map the amount of carbon stored in peatlands at three sites in Indonesia, Norway and Italy.

Peatlands cover just three percent of the world’s surface, but store more than 30 percent of its organic carbon. Scientists fear that much of this carbon could be released back into the atmosphere as these bogs are converted into farm fields, or as warming temperatures linked to climate change cause them to dry out and become more vulnerable to burning.

Silvestri’s research will contribute to the development of a new and more accurate methodology for assessing carbon pools and the threats they face, not only at the three study sites but in peatlands worldwide.