Name: Eloise LittleyEloise

Project Title:  Seesaws vs twins: what are the roles of the North Atlantic and North Pacific in rapid climate change?

Cohort: 2016/17

Institution: School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of St Andrews



In 2015 I graduated from Edinburgh University with a first class degree in Environmental Geoscience (BSc). Key areas covered oceanography, hydrogeology, geochemistry and environmental change and gave me some fantastic fieldwork opportunities in northwest Scotland, Jamaica and Mexico. A year later I started my PhD here at St Andrews under the supervision of Dr. James Rae and Dr. Andrea Burke, taking these themes and applying them to the abrupt climate change of the last glacial period.

My research is centred on the rapid climate change events that occurred from ~20-60kyr. These abrupt shifts in Northern hemisphere climate, known as the Dansgaard-Oeschger events and Heinrich Stadials are characterised by considerable temperature changes over a period of about 50 years. The North Atlantic Ocean has, for a few decades now, been recognised as a major control of these events, linked to the changes in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and atmospheric dynamics. Little understood however, is how the biogeochemistry of the North Atlantic Ocean responded to climate change and whether or not it played a role in associated CO2 fluctuations.

To try to develop these questions, I am employing the boron stable isotope proxy to reconstruct pH and CO2 conditions in the surface ocean of the high latitude North Atlantic over a single abrupt event. At high resolution and accompanied by trace element and nutrient proxy data I hope to be able to further distinguish the sequence of events that occur over a Heinrich-Stadial-Dansgaard-Oeschger transition, and to examine the North Atlantic’s influence on global atmospheric CO2 concentrations.


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