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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton
(023) 8059 2788

Professor Alan Kemp BA, MA, PhD


Professor Alan Kemp's photo

Professor Alan Kemp is Professor within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

BA Natural Sciences (Geology), Cambridge (1978)
PhD, Geology, University of Edinburgh (1985)

Scientific Officer, Institute of Geological Sciences, Edinburgh (1978-1981)
NERC Research Fellow, University of Oxford (1985-1986)

Lecturer University of Southampton (1985), Reader (1997)
Professor University of Southampton (1999-present)
Head of School of Ocean and Earth Science (2002-2005)

Research interests

Specialisms: Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimatology

  • Diatom ecology & palaeoecology and the role of diatoms in biogeochemical cycling.
  • High resolution palaeoclimatology and palaeoceanography, especially from laminated sediments.
  • Interannual to decadal scale climate variability.
  • Application of electron microscope techniques to interpret the micro-fabrics of fine-grained sediments.

I am a palaeoceanographer whose interests include phytoplankton ecology and ocean biogeochemistry. My research has been described in Nature magazine “News and Views” comment as a “showcase example of how the gap between biological oceanography and the new science of palaeoceanography can be bridged”. Research includes the analysis of diatomaceous marine sediments (often laminated) ranging in age from Cretaceous to Holocene, which represent “palaeo-sediment traps”. This has helped established the significance for ocean flux of large and mat-forming diatoms characteristic of stratified waters. I also collaborate in research on ocean production and export through deployment of sediment traps, the “marine snow catcher” and closing plankton nets. Recent NERC-funded research on laminated Cretaceous diatomites from the Arctic, published in “Nature” has reconstructed the seasonal flux cycle. Lamina sequences are used to develop palaeo-time series of interannual to decadal ocean/ climate variability, most recently demonstrating robust El Nino-Southern Oscillation variability in the Cretaceous greenhouse period.

Active research with the Scanning Electron Microscope Facility.

Research group

Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate

Research project(s)

Windermere Research

Seasonally resolved Lateglacial climate variability from the laminated sediments of Windermere

Holocene climate variability and environmental change from sediments of Windermere, UK

Significance of subsurface phytoplankton thin layers for primary production and the carbon cycle in UK summer stratified coastal and shelf seas

Chair, Oceanography and Marine Biology Curriculum Group.

Director, NOCS Scanning Electron Microscope Facility

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Book Chapters

Course coordinator: SOES1008 Earth and Ocean System

Course coordinator: SOES2024 Coastal Ocean Processes

Professor Alan Kemp
Ocean and Earth Science
National Oceanography Centre Southampton
University of Southampton Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK

Room Number: NOCS/164/22

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