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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Testing the terrestrial response to THC-driven Holocene climate events in eastern maritime Canada

Published: 1 March 2011

Fully funded NERC studentship

Supervisors – Dr. Paul Hughes, Dr. Pete Langdon and Prof Mary Edwards

Past terrestrial responses to climate-ocean interactions in the North Atlantic region are a critical research priority because they show how changes in key aspects of climate that will be affected by future global warming, such as ice sheet volume and ocean circulation, may be transmitted to phenomena of direct socio-economic importance, such as the atmospheric water balance and soil moisture availability.

Although we are beginning to understand the nature and magnitude of changes in the circulation of the North Atlantic over the Holocene, terrestrial responses to these events are still poorly understood in terms of timing, magnitude and spatial pattern. This project will generate and test hypotheses to explain the processes of change and to understand the strength of relationships between oceanic and terrestrial climate change.

Newfoundland and Nova Scotia lie at a critical location on the North Atlantic seaboard of N.America, adjacent to the meeting point of the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream. During the Holocene, this meeting point is likely to have shifted southwards on a number of occasions during ice rafting events. Model simulations of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation suggest that at 8.2ka cal. BP the southward shift of the western NADW formation area may have been from 60oN to 45oN (Bauer et al., 2004) and that particularly deep cooling may have occurred over Newfoundland in response (LeGrande et al. 2006). However, more research is required to test the validity of modelled climate responses.

This project will reconstruct rapid Holocene climatic change using (1) bog-surface-wetness records in plateau bogs (2) quantitative temperature estimates from chironomids in lakes (3) analyses of other lacustrine proxy indicators to aid understanding of lake development and controls on a climate signal (4) transfer function training sets for chironomids in Newfoundland (5) validation of proxies against instrumental meteorological records.

Bauer, E. et al. (2004). Paleoceanography. 19, 13pp; LeGrande, A. N. et al. (2006) PNAS, 103, 837-842.

The closing date for applications is 1 April 2011.

Eligibility for this studentship is governed by the NERC – please see their website to check your eligibility BEFORE making an application:

For information on how to apply, follow these links  or contact Julie Drewitt, Graduate School Administrator on if you have any further queries.

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