Two studentships avaliable

January 9, 2013

Two NERC algorithm funded PhD studentships are currently available with the PCRG. The projects are focused on understanding past environmental change in west tropical Africa and Amazonian-Andean Ecuador. Both projects will involve field work and build on on-going research within the lab.

Closing date 31/01/2013

Fieldwork in 2012 near Papallacta (Ecuador).

One project will work on samples collected during fieldwork in 2012 near Papallacta (Ecuador).

Further project details and how to apply below…
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Atlantic control of tropical climate

October 2, 2012

Nicole A. S. Mosblech, Mark B. Bush, William D. Gosling, David Hodell, Louise Thomas, Peter van Calsteren, Alexander Correa-Metrio, Bryan G. Valencia, Jason Curtis & Robert van Woesik (2012) North Atlantic forcing of Amazonian precipitation during the last ice age. Nature Geoscience, 5: 817-820.

Thinking about proxies

January 31, 2012

All areas of research have strengths and limitations which are readily acknowledged by the scientists involved. The reconstruction of past climates (palaeoclimates) from biological indicators contained within the fossil record (proxies) presents some specific challenges; for example key limitations might be gaps in a sedimentary sequence or post-depositional degradation of samples. Understanding and interpreting data sets in the face of these challenges require the researcher to develop a wide range of skills. Huntley (2012) focuses upon the uncertainties within palaeoclimate reconstruction which he considers to be “frequently overlooked” (p. 2) by scientists making climate reconstructions from proxy records. Specifically Huntley urges researchers to consider carefully:

  • What a given proxy is actually capable of reconstructing, i.e. what climate variables controls its distribution?
  • What other variables might be influencing the proxy, i.e. could there be multiple influences, might these vary through time?
  • What is the spatial relevance of the proxy, i.e. macro versus micro scale?
  • Can multiple proxies be compared, either within or between sites?

In other words: which and how many climatic variables can be reconstructed form any one aspect of the fossil record?

Below I review and comment on some key arguments made by Huntley (2012) related to the use of proxies in reconstructing palaeoclimates.

Huntley, B. (2012) Reconstructing palaeoclimates from biological proxies: Some often overlooked sources of uncertainty. Quaternary Science Reviews 31: 1-16.

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