Megan Pelly

Project Title: A new Tracer for Ocean Circulation and its Role in a Changing Climate

Ocean circulation plays a central role in dictating Earth’s climate by transporting and storing large quantities of CO2 and heat. It has been shown that ocean circulation patterns have repeatedly switched between different styles, driving major changes in atmospheric CO2 and climate.  Understanding these past changes are vital to inform our future. However, despite its importance, reconstructing past changes in ocean circulation remains challenging, with current methods limited by multiple competing controls.

This PhD aims to test, understand and develop a new proxy for reconstructing past ocean circulation based on neodymium in microfossil shells. Preliminary data has shown the potential for this proxy to create strikingly coherent records of ocean circulation. Once developed I will apply the method to examine past changes in ocean circulation, including their influence on storage of CO2 in the glacial ocean and on rapid climate change events, and provide a context for the changes in circulation predicted to occur in the coming decades.

The completion of this work will provide a new tool to understand the role the oceans play in dictating global climate, allowing the answering of fundamental questions in climate research.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Geosciences

University: University of St Andrews

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