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Deglacial ocean and climate seasonality in laminated sediments from the East Antarctic margin


The biggest threat to mankind is climate change. Most scientists now agree that anthropogenic carbon emissions are not only detrimental to our environment, but have contributed to the causes of the rapid climate change we now face. The extent of mankind's overall contribution to this problem and how much is part of the natural climate cycle is an intriguing question.

This project makes a contribution towards addressing this question by studying elements of the carbon cycle pre-Anthropogenic forcing during a period of rapid climate change in the recent past. In doing so it offers a temporal 'base-line' perspective of natural climate change processes and effects of atmosphere-hydrosphere-geosphere-biosphere interactions.

Furthermore, it appears that we should look to the Antarctic to understand some of the causes of European climate change, which help influence environmental policy decisions. One way that Antarctic ice sheets and seasonal sea-ice melt can affect the climate system is through the sequestration of atmospheric CO2 to the ocean sediments via inducing enormous production of planktonic marine organisms.

This occurred on an unprecedented scale over several hundred years during the last deglaciation as recorded by seasonality laminated (varved) sedimentary sequences across the East Antarctic Margin (EAM). This project uses organic microfossil remains and a new organic geochemical proxy for estimating past sea-surface temperatures (TEX86) to elucidate seasonal palaeoceanographic and palaeoecological changes across the EAM from these varved sequences.

The outputs will be invaluable for estimations of carbon sequestration for a natural system during a period of rapid climate change and for climate models, which attempt to predict future global change and response of biogeochemical cycles. Execution of this project will bring enormous career benefits to the Researcher by acquisition of new scientific skills and further development of complementary skills.

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