My research focuses on Cenozoic climate change. Specifically, past changes in southern high-latitude vegetation from the Antarctic Peninsula region and southern South America, and the evolution of the Antarctic icesheet around the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (~34 Ma).
The role and climatic impact of the opening of the Drake Passage and how this affected both marine and terrestrial environments throughout the past Greenhouse to Icehouse transition approximately 34 million years ago (~34Ma) is poorly understood. The lack of well dated continuous sedimentary records spanning this transition in Earth Climate history from the Antarctic margin and the Southern Ocean has hampered detailed palaeoecological and palaeoenvironmental analysis, and therefore understand of forcing and feedback mechanisms controlling polar glaciation.
Using fossil pollen and spores across selected sites from the Antarctic Peninsula region and southern South America, vegetation composition, structure and diversity patterns are reconstructed in order to investigate the timing and nature of vegetation change. Past shifts in temperature and precipitation using sporomorph-based climate reconstructions are also used to examine the patterns and timing of climate change in the region. The generated terrestrial palynomorph data collected and analysed through this project can then be compared with evidence for Antarctic glaciation and compared with available marine proxy data in order to see if the patterns of ecological disturbance, climate deterioration and ice sheet advance are related to changes in the terrestrial and marine realm. This aims to better understanding of the forcing and feedback mechanisms controlling Antarctic glaciation, by testing the hypothesis:
If the opening of the Drake Passage during the Eocene-Oligocene and subsequent thermal isolation of Antarctica were the principal factors driving Antarctic climate change, then marine ecosystems and their biota would have been affected first, adapting in response before terrestrial ecosystems, since marine organisms are directly affected by changes in ocean currents.
MSc, University of Birmingham
1 Sep 2017 → 1 Sep 2018
BSc (Hons), University of Leeds
1 Sep 2014 → 1 Jun 2017