Paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental change

This area of research is focused on using sedimentary archives (marine and lake sediment cores, fossil corals) to reconstruct paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental changes on a range on spatio-temporal scales.

Research themes include:

Environmental history of the global tropics

Coming soon!

Relative sea level changes 

In this project theme we use fossil corals to reconstruct relative sea level changes and changes in ice sheet dynamics. For example, in the Great Barrier Reef as part of IODP Exp. 325 our team produced the most comprehensive reconstruction of relative sea level changes during the Last Ice Age between ever assembled. We showed for the first time that the drop to the Last Glacial Maximum (27,000 to 20,000 years ago) is a two step process and that ice sheets can grow more rapidly than previous thought. This has major implications for our understanding of global ice sheet dynamics through this period. This information should also help other research groups improve their models of the future global climate change and ice sheet dynamics.

Published journal Nature and see the press release for more details

See also a blog that also gives some simple explanation of the papers significance.

Sea surface temperature and salinity changes

In this project theme we are using fossil corals to reconstruct paleooceanographic conditions including sea surface temperature in the past. An example comes for our recent work in the Great Barrier Reef. Here we present the first reconstruction of sea surface temperature (SST) changes since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). This study showed that the temperature were 4-5 degree cooler at the peak of the ice ages, and that there was a 1-2 degree temperature offset between 17 degrees S and 20 degrees SS. The result is best explained by the northward expansion of cooler subtropical waters due to a weakening of the South Pacific gyre and East Australian Current.

Published journal Nature Communications.

See also a blog that also gives some simple explanation of the papers significance.

For collaboration or Honours, Masters, or PhD research projects please contact:

Jody Webster –