Name: Bianca Cavazzin

Project Title: Paleotemperature change in drought-prone Canadian prairiesBianca Cavazzin photo

Cohort: 2015/16

Institution: The University of Glasgow, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences 




As a paleo-environmental geographer, I am interested in continental-scale environmental responses to rapid climate variability through the synthesis of North America high-resolution proxy data for the past 2000 years.

My PhD focuses on the interior of Canada is a drought-prone region that is reliant on grain and livestock production. The region is characterized by large changes in seasonal temperatures (~35.6C) and relatively low rainfall (36.4cm/yr). Little is known about the past temperatures in this region before the human instrumental measurements that go back about 100 years.

The aim of this research is to focus on the past 1500 years of geologic history to characterize known climatic events such as the Medieval Warm Period (~900-1200 AD), the Little Ice Age (~1500-1800 AD), and the Dust Bowl Drought (1930’s AD) and determine the links between these events and to global climate drivers.

In this project, I will develop and apply novel lake biomarker temperature proxies to this climatically-sensitive region, namely long-chain algal diols and bacterial membrane lipids called GDGTs (glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers). I will investigate algal-derived, long-chain diols whose chain length and structure have been shown to correlate linearly with the growth temperature of the producing algae, (e.g. Rampen et al. 2012). I will also investigate GDGT proxies for temperature and pH. These proxies will be investigated from a suite of 109 surface sediments of lakes across the Canadian prairie that spans a 5° latitudinal gradient and spring surface water temperature gradient of about 9°C. Existing metadata is available for the comparison of developed biomarker indices with modern environmental data, including temperature, lake water pH, hydrogen and oxygen isotopes, and conductivity. These 109 samples will be used as a training set to develop the biomarker proxies for down-core use in this region.

Prior to my current position, I completed my MSc in Environmental Monitoring Modelling and Reconstruction at the University of Manchester, after receiving my BSc in Geography at the University of Brighton.


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