INQUA 2015: Climate change in the tropical South Pacific during the Late Quaternary

October 27, 2014


inqua-JPPosted on behalf of Prof. David Sear (University of Southampton)

The next INQUA Congress will be held in Nagoya (Japan) on July 27 – August 2, 2015

This is a call for contributions to session P05 on ‘Climate change in the tropical South Pacific during the Late Quaternary’.

The session abstract is as follows:
Establishing well dated, quantitative, highly resolved palaeoclimate data for the major climate systems of the tropical south Pacific has become a research priority owing to the paucity of instrumental data from this critical region of the Earth. Whilst the quantity of proxy climate data for this region is increasing rapidly, compared to records from the Northern Hemisphere there is a surprising paucity especially when considering the importance of this region to global climate. Such information is vital for fully understanding inter-hemispheric climate linkages, global energy fluxes and the long-term evolution of natural climate variability such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. The dearth of pre-industrial climate records from this region contributes to large uncertainties associated with future climate change impacts far beyond the south Pacific. This session aims to bring together researchers working on Late Quaternary ocean/climate proxies with those whose research lies in modelling ocean-climate processes and dynamics in the tropical south pacific region, and their implications for global climate.

We hope this session will be of interest to you. If you plan to contribute to this session, please submit your abstract before December 20, 2014 click here.

We hope to see you at INQUA 2015.

Best Wishes,

David Sear, Julian Sachs, Kim Cobb, John Chiang, Peter Langdon – session conveners.

Professor David Sear
Geography & Environment
University of Southampton

Predicting the future by understanding the past: Climate change

October 9, 2014

As part of the 500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes” Natural Environments Research Council funded (NE/K005294/1) project we have produced a wall chart explaining the type of research we do and how it can help to place on-going, and projected, climate change in context. The wall chart is designed for use in schools and universities. To obtain a copy of this, and other wall charts, please contact the British Ecological Society (direct wall chart link here).

Understanding Climate Changes

In the news:

Exploding flower blasts birds with pollen, by Xochitl Rojas-Rocha Science shot. (Research article behind this story is Dellinger et al. listed below). Also:

Scientific articles:

Dellinger, A.S., Penneys, D.S., Staedler, Y.M., Fragner, L., Weckwerth, W. & Schönenberger, J. A Specialized Bird Pollination System with a Bellows Mechanism for Pollen Transfer and Staminal Food Body Rewards. Current Biology, online.

Huntley, B., Midgley, G.F., Barnard, P. & Valdes, P. (2014) Suborbital climatic variability and centres of biological diversity in the Cape region of southern Africa. Journal of Biogeography, 41 (7): 1338-1351.

Matthew, T.J., Cottee-Jones, H.E., & Whittaker, R.J. (2014) Habitat fragmentation and the species–area relationship: a focus on total species richness obscures the impact of habitat loss on habitat specialists. Diversity and Distribution, 20 (10): 1136-1146.

Rijsdijk, K.F., Hengl, T., Norder, S.J.,  Otto, R., Emerson, B.C., Ávila, S.P., López, H., van Loon, E. E., Tjørve, E. & Fernández-Palacios, J.M. (2014) Quantifying surface-area changes of volcanic islands driven by Pleistocene sea-level cycles: biogeographical implications for the Macaronesian archipelagos. Journal of Biogeography, 41 (7): 1242-1254.

An interview with Phil Jardine

July 1, 2014

Well, we’ve heard from Wes and Adele, and now it’s my turn (Phil Jardine) for a bit of a chat on the “Ecology of the past” YouTube channel. Similar to the previous interview videos, I’m talking about my role on the Bosumtwi pollen chemistry project, and what I’ve done (academically speaking) prior to coming to the Open University. Enjoy!

For more videos check out the “Ecology of the past” YouTube channel.

Forests of the tropical eastern Andean flank during the middle Pleistocene: An insight of how highly biodiverse forests lived without us

October 31, 2013

Photo taken close by the study site. The road that pass through Eastern Andes, and the magnificent Montane forest of western Amazonia behind. (Photo by M. L. Cárdenas)

Photo taken close by the study site. The road that pass through Eastern Andes, and the magnificent Montane forest of western Amazonia behind. (Photo by M. L. Cárdenas)

Who would have thought that building a road in Andes would have allowed us to gain new and unique insight of pristine western- Amazonian forests? (I would have thought completely the opposite). Initially Patricia Mothes, chief of the volcanologist section of the Intituto de Geofisica in Ecuador, was called to look at sediments exposed by road works on the eastern flank of the Ecuadorian Andes. Arriving at the site she found thick (>20 vertical meters) deposits of grayish and dark brown interbedded layers of sediments which looked like they have been recently deposited. At closer inspection Patricia discovered that there were even wood pieces and leaves within the dark sediments (now known to be highly organic) that had the appearance of have been deposited within modern time. She wanted to know more. So a PhD student was recruited (a.k.a. Macarena Cárdenas) to work with the sediments at the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group at the Open University under the supervision of Dr William Gosling… And so the study began.

After several years spent dating the sediments, analyzing their composition (physical and elemental) and the fossils (pollen and wood) contained within them preliminary insights into vegetation change on the eastern Andean flank during the middle Pleistocene (c. 200,000-300,000 years ago) were revealed and published (Cárdenas et al., 2011a; Cárdenas et al., 2011b). Further work covering stratigraphically lower sediments (older than those previously published; c. 500,000 year) and more detailed sedimentary and fossil analysis of the entire sequence completed a PhD thesis (Cárdenas, 2011).

I am now pleased to announce that the extended work included in my PhD thesis has now been published in a new article in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (Cárdenas et al., online). The new paper is an extended version from previous publications from the same research and provides further evidence of the unique insights that can be gained from palaeoenvironmental studies in this region. These are some of the oldest Quaternary sediments ever discovered and studied from the mid-elevation eastern Andean flank / western Amazon and upon their analyses we were able to get for the first time an insight of how human-untouched Amazonian forests were back in time (up to 500,000 years ago!), how was their diversity and how they responded to intense volcanic activity and climatic change.

By Dr Macarena L. Cárdenas


Cárdenas, M.L. (2011) The response of western Amazonian vegetation to fire and climate change: A palaeoecological study. In: Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, p. 242. The Open University, Milton Keynes

Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Pennington, R.T., Poole, I., Sherlock, S.C. & Mothes, P. (online) Forests of the tropical eastern andean flank during the middle pleistocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.10.009

Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011a) The response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change. Science, 331, 1055-1058. DOI: 10.1126/science.1197947

Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011b) Response to comment on “the response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change”. Science, 333, 1825. DOI: 10.1126/science.1207888


Introducing Adele Julier: New PCRG PhD researcher

October 14, 2013

Adele Julier

Adele Julier and a Malvaceae

Hello! I’m Adele and I started my PhD about a week ago. It’s been a little intense but I can almost find the lab without a map now, so it is probably time to introduce myself.

I’ll be studying pollen-vegetation relationships in Ghana, as part of the NERC funded project500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes’. This means I’ll be using pollen traps to figure out how pollen outputs vary between (and sometimes within) different vegetation types in Ghana. I will also be trying my hand at chemotaxonomy and video making. I’m heading out to Ghana (along with Phil Jardine) in just over a week to do my first lot of field work which will involve seeing the plots, collecting existing traps, replacing them with new ones, and setting up some new sites. I’m very excited.

My background is broadly botanical; I did a BA at Magdalene College, Cambridge in Natural Sciences specialising in Plant Science and then an MSc in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.

Here’s a picture of me holding the biggest Malvaceae flower I’d ever seen and being incredibly happy about that.

To find out more about me visit my blog: Plants in real life

PCRG publications 2008

February 15, 2013

Gosling, W.D. & Bunting, M.J. (2008) A role for palaeoecology in anticipating future change in mountain regions? Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 259, 1-5

Gosling, W.D., Bush, M.B., Hanselman, J.A. & Chepstow-Lusty, A. (2008) Glacial-interglacial changes in moisture balance and the impact on vegetation in the southern hemisphere tropical Andes (Bolivia/Peru). Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 259, 35-50

PCRG publications 2005

February 15, 2013

Bush, M.B., Hansen, B.C.S., Rodbell, D.T., Seltzer, G.O., Young, K.R., Leon, B., Abbott, M.B., Silman, M.R. & Gosling, W.D. (2005) A 17,000-year history of Andean climate and vegetation change from Laguna de Chochos, Peru. Journal of Quaternary Science, 20, 703-714

Gosling, W.D. & Bush, M.B. (2005) A biogeographic comment on Wüster et al. (2005): Tracing an invasion: Landbridges, refugia, and the phylogeography of the neotropical rattlesnake (serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalus durissus). Molecular Ecology, 14, 3615-3617

Gosling, W.D., Mayle, F.E., Tate, N.J. & Killeen, T. (2005) Modern pollen-rain characteristics of tall terra firme moist evergreen forest, southern Amazonia. Quaternary Research, 64, 284-297

Hanselman, J.A., Gosling, W.D., Ralph, G.M. & Bush, M.B. (2005) Contrasting histories of MIS 5e and the Holocene from Lake Titicaca (Bolivia/Peru). Journal of Quaternary Science, 20, 663-670

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