Name: Allan Cochrane  13450173_1013896158659762_5800851141577290462_n

Project Title:  Palaeoclimate Reconstruction of the Last Glacial/ Interglacial Transition in the Northern Isles of Scotland   Cohort: 2016/17


University of Stirling (Primary Institution), natural-sciences/about-us/bes/

University of Glasgow, SUERC (Secondary Institution) http://


Robert McCulloch – University of Stirling

Eileen Tisdall – University of Stirling

Philippa Ascough – University of Glasgow, SUERC


I am an Earth Science graduate from the University of Glasgow and have also been awarded a M.Sc. in Climate Change: Managing the Marine Environment from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.   My research aims to produce a high-resolution age- constrained temperature record for the Last-glacial / Inter-glacial transition (c. 17,000 – 8,000 years before present), through detailed analysis of lake cores from northern Scotland. Scotland and the Northern Isles, through their location in the north-east Atlantic Ocean, are critical to understanding climate change as it is strongly modulated by atmospheric and marine circulation systems. The Late-glacial / Inter-glacial transition (LGIT) is recognised as a period of abrupt climate change as the global ocean-atmosphere system underwent dramatic reorganisation at the end of the last glaciation. However, the timing and nature of the Late-glacial and early-Holocene in the amphi-atlantic regions is less well understood. Reconstructions of mean July air temperatures from the eastern Highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Skye in north- west Scotland suggest that climate change during the LGIT was like a flickering switch. The Interstadial was punctuated by centennial-scale cold oscillations which may be synchronous with the Greenland ice core Interstadial events in the oxygen-isotope records. However, the British summer temperature records differ in detail from trends in the from the Greenland ice cores and from other chironomidinferred temperature records available from north-west Europe and central Europe which may suggest important differences in the influence of climatic forcing at regional scales.

Methodology : This project will produce high-resolution (sub-centennial) records of chironomid inferred temperature change from lake sediments in northern Scotland and the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland). These climate records will be further supported by pollen analysis (input from Dr McCulloch) which is excellent for the reconstruction of past landscape change. However, there is a lag between climate change and the evidence recorded in the vegetation record and it is anticipated that the inferred chironomid temperature record will be more sensitive to climate. Differences in the timing and characteristics of the response between the chironomids and vegetation will help disentangle the major climate forcings in the region. Deep basin sediments, spanning the past ~17 ka, have been identified along a latitudinal transect between 58oS and 60oS. It is anticipated that the chironomid records will circumscribe the timing and extent of temperature changes during the LGIT and enable us to separate the shifts in the focus of precipitation during the LGIT at a sub-centennial scale. These records will be reinforced through lithostratigraphic analyses (organic content and XRF-geochemistry and constrained in time using radiocarbon dating and tephrochronology (dating using volcanic ash layers).

Publications/Conference talks/Posters: University of Stirling, 2016 Annual BES Winter Symposium – Poster Presentation


Department webpage: