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

Where will change be most acute?

Desert panorama: Arabia.
Desert panorama: Arabia. Image credit: Anya Crocker

Background:

As Earth heats up, warming will be uneven and the regional consequences are hard to predict. We want to understand how rainfall patterns will shift, especially in already water-stressed regions (e.g., subtropical Africa, Greater Arabia and West and Central Asia) and where rainfall is strongly seasonal (e.g., South Asia and South East Asia monsoon regions). Polar ice cover will shrink but how fast will that happen and how might that accelerate change elsewhere?

Key Questions:

1. How will rainfall climate respond to global warming? Climate models predict that the overall response will be to make wet regions become wetter and dry regions become drier but there are big uncertainties. What does the palaeo record say?  

2. How will polar ice sheets respond to global warming? We want to know when and why the poles first became glaciated and understand the stability of ice sheets, sea ice cover and sea level under contrasting global conditions.

3. How is climate change linked between the poles and the lower latitudes? We see unmistakable geological evidence of closely correlated change across-latitudes in seemingly distantly related components of the climate system. What are the causes and implications of these interconnections? 

How do we do it?

Data from marine drill cores provide a way to study past intervals of CO2-fueled warmth. We are fingerprinting sediments on the continents (e.g., Jewell et al., 2021) and measuring their accumulation in the ocean to understand past swings in continental aridity/humidity. We are using marine sediments to track past changes in ocean temperature and circulation, continental ice volume and global sea level (e.g., Rohling et al., 2014; Lang et al., 2016; Liebrand et al., 2017; Jakob et al., 2020).

Who in Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate is involved?

Steve Bohaty; Anya Crocker; Tom Ezard; Eelco Rohling; Paul A. Wilson; Chuang Xuan.

Links to other Research Themes

Ocean currents and mixing

Chemical, biological and physical controls on primary production in the surface ocean

IODP - Exploring the Earth Under the Sea

Landscape Dynamics and Ecology (LDE)

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A North African river wadi channel in the dry season. Credit, Callum Crocker.
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Shifting sands of Arabia. Credit, Anya Crocker.
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Picking our way through an armada of Antarctic icebergs. Credit, Becky Hopkins.
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Sea ice in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. Credit, Becky Hopkins.
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