Modelling East African climate during the Plio-Pleistocene

Theme: Past Life & Environments

Main Supervisor:

Chris Brierley

Geography, UCL

Second Supervisor:

Serge Guillas

Statistical Science, UCL

Project Description:

The emergence and evolution of Hominids took place within an African continent that has seen substantial changes in habitat and climate over the past few million years. Over the past decade, we have been steadily building a much more detailed picture of these changes from palaeoenvironmental proxies. The terrestrial record is still patchy with poor temporal resolution, whilst the oceanographic record lacks a fine spatial resolution. Nonetheless the suggestion that Human evolution was in part connected to the local climate change has garnered considerable traction. Yet arguments persist about what aspects of the changes were the influencing factor – the secular drying trend or the variability. In part, this cannot be resolved as existing records do not have the resolution. This project would combine global climate models with novel statistical techniques to complement the palaeoclimate reconstructions. It would involve creating a small ensemble (~30 runs) of coupled Earth system models with the dynamic vegetation, prognostic carbon and potentially ice-sheets on. The ensemble would sample a range of different orbital configurations. A statistical emulator would then be constructed to create synthetic climate time series to be compared to the palaeoclimate reconstructions.

Policy Impact of Research:

The project would invite different perceptions of climate change and human interactions.


Stay informed

Subscribe to our RSS newsletter by email.


Find Us

University College London is the administrative lead.

Pearson Building, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Follow us on Twitter