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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate

Currently Active: 

Understanding past changes in the Earth System provides the essential context for future climate prediction. Southampton’s Palaeoceanography & Palaeoclimate research group is big and active with a critical mass of around 60 academics, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students and a suite of state-of-the-art geochemical, micropalaeontological, core-processing and numerical modeling facilities. Our research is global in scope. We work in all ocean basins on key problems in Earth history spanning the Anthropocene to the Palaeozoic.  

Group Overview

Our specific research strengths include:

JOIDES Resolution
JOIDES Resolution
  • the development, calibration, and quantitative application of new research tools
  • past ocean circulation, temperature, and continental ice volume (sea level)
  • the history of biogeochemical cycling and global biodiversity
  • high frequency climate change on seasonal through centennial time scales
  • past changes in regional and global carbon cycling, including ocean acidity and atmospheric CO2 levels
  • ecological/palaeocological applications of foraminifera

Contact: Professor Paul Wilson

Key aspects of the Research Group

(i) A critical mass (~60) of staff, post-docs, PhD students
(ii) A world-class suite of stable isotope, trace metal and SEM laboratories
(iii) Organic Geochemistry and Superconducting Rock Magnetometry laboratories

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The Palaeoceanography and palaeoclimate Research Group is equipped with state-of-the-art research laboratories.

These laboratories are used for a wide range of research purposes and upper level project work.

Palaeomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism Laboratory

The Palaeomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism Laboratory houses a list of state-of-the-art instrumentation as well as a shielded room to support palaeomagnetism, rock and mineral magnetism, magnetic stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental-related research. With instruments including a Princeton Measurements Corporation MicroMag 3900 Vibrating Sample Magnetometer and an AGICO KLY4S Kappabridge, magnetic properties of samples can be studied in detail at a range of temperatures to determine the concentration, grain size and mineralogy of magnetic particles in samples. A 2G Enterprises Superconducting Rock Magnetometer provides the capability to rapidly and accurately measure the natural and various laboratory-induced magnetic remanence for continuous and discrete samples. For further information, contact Dr Chuang Xuan, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6401.

Stable Isotope Ratio Mass-Spectrometry (SIRMS) Laboratory

The SIRMS laboratory was established in 1998 with NERC, HEFCE-SRIF and ESSO funds. The facilities function is the measurement of stable isotope ratios of various materials including 13C and 18O in carbonates (sediments and foraminifera), 13C and 15N in organic materials (plankton and soils), 18O in water samples and deuterium in water samples. For further information, contact Professor Paul Wilson, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6164 or  Dr Steven Bohaty, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3040.

Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory

The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) facility was established in 2001, originally funded by NERC, the University of Southampton and Carl Zeiss SMT Ltd, to support high-resolution palaeoceanographical, palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental research. The instrumentation includes a Leo 1450VP SEM and an Oxford Instruments X-Act 10mm2 area SDD EDS Detector, utilising the AZtecEnergy software system. A range of services are offered, including secondary electron and backscattered electron imaging, automated image acquisition, elemental mapping and qualitative and quantitative elemental spot analysis. Museum and other sensitive specimens can be safely imaged or chemically analysed using the SEM variable pressure (VP) mode.

The SEM facility is a research and teaching resource available for use by staff, postgraduate students and final year undergraduate students. The facility is also available for use by staff in other university departments and commercial clients. We have expertise in the examination of geological, metallurgical and some biological materials. For further information, contact Dr Richard Pearce, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6477/6518.

X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory

The X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) facility located at NOCS provides a service for the qualitative or quantitative analysis of rock samples to determine bulk mineralogy and/or clay mineralogy. Samples are run on a Philips X'Pert pro XRD machine with a Cu X-ray tube. Mineral identification is undertaken using the JC PDS (powder diffraction studies) database. For further information, contact Dr Richard Pearce, tel: +44 (0)23 8059 6477.

Postgraduate opportunities

PhD Project Titles

Abrupt marine ecosystem change across the end-Triassic mass extinction: Insights from molecular fossils
Dr Jessica Whiteside, Prof John Marshall

Aridity in Asia: What is the palaeoclimate record in ocean sediments trying to tell us?
Prof Paul Wilson, Dr Chuang Xuan, Dr Suzanne MacLachlan

A high-resolution investigation of the Eocene greenhouse climate state
Prof Paul Wilson, Dr Steve Bohaty, Dr Peter Lippert (University of Utah), Prof Dick Norris (Scripps, California)

A multi-proxy investigation of the last great tipping point in Earth’s climate history: Ocean circulation and the onset of a bipolar glacial world
Prof. Paul Wilson, Prof Gavin Foster, Ian Bailey (University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines)

A novel way to determine Earth’s sensitivity to greenhouse gas forcing using an ultra-fast climate model and the geological record
Dr Philip Goodwin, Prof Paul Wilson, Prof Gavin Foster

Causes and consequences of geomagnetic change: a well calibrated high-resolution study on East China Sea and Japan Sea sediments
Dr Chuang Xuan, Prof Alan Kemp, Prof Ryuji Tada (University of Tokyo)

Climate Change and Geomagnetic Field: New Insights from the West Iberian Margin
Dr Chuang Xuan, Prof Paul Wilson, Prof David Hodell (University of Cambridge)

Finding Earth’s thermostat: Testing the relationship between global climate, silicate weathering and marine carbonate production
Dr Christopher Pearce, Dr Steve Bohaty, Prof Paul Wilson

Global climate teleconnections and the onset of Antarctic glaciation
Prof Paul Wilson, Dr Steve Bohaty

Greenhouse Climate of the American West
Dr Jessica Whiteside, Dr Magdalena Rose Osburn (Northwestern University, USA), Dr Steve Bohaty

North American climate history of the early Icehouse
Dr Steve Bohaty, Prof. Paul Wilson, Dr Peter C. Lippert (University of Utah), & Dr Dennis O. Terry (Temple University) Collaborators: Dr Hemmo Abels (Utrecht University), Dr Chuang Xuan (University of Southampton), & Dr Diederik Liebrand (University of Southampton).

Predicting increased frequency of extreme sea-level flooding events from Monte Carlo simulations using a novel ultra-fast climate model
Dr Philip Goodwin, Dr Ivan Haigh, Prof Eelco Rohling

Rapid climate change and bacterial blooms in deep time
Dr Jessica Whiteside, Dr Phyllis Lam, Dr Steve Bohaty

Testing the “Iron Hypothesis” and determining the causes of glacial-interglacial CO2 change
Prof Gavin Foster, Dr Mathis Hain, Dr Jessica Whiteside

The role of CO2 in Plio-Pleistocene climate change; revealed by orbital resolution boron isotope records
Prof Gavin Foster, Prof Paul Wilson, Prof Eelco Rohling, Dr Ian Bailey (Exeter)

Tracking changes in seasonal to millennial scale climate variability through the Eocene transition from an ice-free to ice-covered Arctic Ocean
Prof Alan Kemp, Dr Ian Harding

Unlocking the history of sea surface temperature using SST-proxies in corals from the Belize Barrier Reef
Prof Gavin Foster, Dr Elizabeth Kent, Dr David Berry




Research Staff

Staff MemberPrimary Position
Shir AkbariResearch and Teaching Technician (Palynology)
Charlotte Emily AldredPostgraduate research student (NERC CDT in Oil and Gas)
Eleni AnagnostouPostdoctoral Research Fellow
David Ian Armstrong McKayPostgraduate research student
Rachael S AveryPostgraduate research student
Steven BohatySMMI Lecturer
Sargent BrayResearch Scientist
Anieke BrombacherPostgraduate research student
David CarpenterPostgraduate research student
Anya CrockerVisiting Scientist
Elwyn De La VegaPostgraduate research student
Hannah DonaldPostgraduate research student
Thomas H G EzardNERC Advanced Research Fellow
John James FieldingPostgraduate research student
Gavin FosterProfessor of Isotope Geochemistry
David M FriesPostgraduate research student, Marie Curie Initial Training Network
Samantha GibbsRoyal Society University Research Fellow
Philip GoodwinLecturer
Ian HardingSenior Lecturer
Fiona D HibbertResearch Fellow
Pin-Ru HuangPostgraduate research student
Claire HuckPostdoctoral Research Associate
Gabriella E JardinePostgraduate research student
Yuxi JinVisiting scholar
Alan KempProfessor
Wendy KordeschPostgraduate research student
Jens C KrügerPostgraduate research student, Marie Curie Research Fellow
David LangPostgraduate research student
Diederik LiebrandPostdoctoral Research Fellow
John MarshallProfessor of Earth Science
Doreen E MkuuPostgraduate research student
Harriet R MoorePostgraduate research student
John MurrayEmeritus Professor of Geology
Sameer PatelPostgraduate research student
Richard PearceResearch Fellow
Emma ReevesResearch Assistant
Aubrey Jane RobertsPostgraduate research student
EJ RohlingProfessor of Ocean and Climate Change
David ShawPostgraduate research student
Rosie ShewardPostgraduate research student
Richard SmithPostgraduate research student
Megan SpencerLaboratory Technician
James F SprayPostgraduate research student
Tim Van PeerPostgraduate research student
Jessica H WhitesideLecturer
Felicity H WilliamsPostgraduate research student
Paul WilsonHead of Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate Research Group, Professor
Chuang XuanLecturer

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