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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Interannual to decadal ocean/climate variability

Currently Active: 

There is increasing focus on the need to characterise natural climate variability so that the relative contributions of "natural" and anthropogenic forcing may be identified. For example is the El Nino/ Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon becoming stronger with global warming? Or is there evidence from pre-anthropogenic climates or the amplitude and frequency of ENSO changes?

To resolve such issues, extensive records of annual-scale variability are required. One such archive is contained in annually laminated or "varved" sediments. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) approach, led by Southampton has shown that it is possible to resolve up to 18 individual sub-annual events and has produced records of interannual variability based on SEM identification of layers of individual species as well as total varve thickness variation. Such records have identified strong ENSO activity during the previous major glacial episode some 160,000 years ago. Current studies target sediments ranging in age from Pleistocene of the Gulf of California (NERC grant), through Eocene to Cretaceous of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans(ODP/IODP).

Contact: Professor Alan Kemp

Further information can be found at:  

Related research groups

Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate
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