Name: Emma OwnsworthIMG_8181

Project Title: Tracking millennial-scale glacial palaeoceanography of the Baltic Sea Basin and Western Greenland

Cohort: 2017/18

Institution: Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University


  • Professor David Selby (Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University)
  • Dr Jeremy Lloyd (Department of Geography, Durham University)
  • Dr Andrea Burke (University of St Andrews)
  • Project partner: Dr Matthias Moros (Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Warnemünde)



I graduated from Durham University with a first class degree in 2017 after undertaking a 4 year MSci in Natural Sciences, taking modules in Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Geography.

My PhD will focus on exploring the millennial-scale glacial paleoceanography of the Baltic Sea Basin through the use of core archives, from which I will develop osmium and sulfur isotope records. The Baltic Sea throughout the past has gone through a number of changes due to glaciations in the area. It has gone through periods of connection to the North Sea, and isolation where ice has cut off its path. By developing the osmium and sulfur isotope records I am hoping to be able to pick out these different sea stage events and the draining and re-filling of the basin, to constrain their timings and durations. This is a novel method to improve our understating of the Baltic Seas glacial cycles. It utilises isotopic proxies able to distinguish short and longer term peturbations in the rate and magnitude of inputs resulting from modifications to hydrological cycles, continental weathering and sea connectivity.

I am also studying osmium isotopes on a core from Baffin Bay, Greenland. Here again I will be relating the osmium isotopes to changes in ice sheets and glaciers around Greenland through the Quaternary. I will also be trying to link the response of the ice to the Younger Dryas, a brief return to glacial conditions roughly 12.9 – 11.7 thousand years ago.

This research will help in understanding how ice sheets and glaciers can respond to changes in climate – a topic of growing importance today.


Publications/Conference talks/Posters:

Durham Rising Stars Research Symposium, June 2017 – After achieving the highest mark on my research project (final year of MSci) in Earth Sciences I was invited to talk at the research symposium with speakers from other science faculties at Durham. Here I was awarded the audience choice award for best presentation.

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