Evaluating the effects of shifting solar activity on European Climate during the Holocene

Theme: Past Life & Environments

Primary Supervisor:

Celia Martin-Puertas

Geography, RHUL

Secondary Supervisor:

Simon Blockley

Geography, RHUL

Project Description:

A grand solar minimum anticipated from 2020 to 2070 raises the possibility of an interruption of present-day Global Warming for a few decades. However, the magnitude of resultant regional effects, such as flooding and cooling in Western Europe, may be significantly underestimated in current climate models, since a similar situation has never been recorded by instrumental data.
This project aims to answer two questions (1) how extreme were the climatic conditions induced by previous grand solar minima in Europe and (2) what is the potential of the next grand solar minimum to trigger comparable changes in the future?
This PhD proposal is to wo0rk on high resolution lake records as part of an innovative approach is to reconstruct climatic parameters in the different seasons because solar-induced variations in atmospheric circulation occur from one year to the next and affect seasonality, and to synchronize individual climatic records across Europe using three independent dating methods: (1) annual layer counting, (2) tephrochronology and (3) cosmogenic isotopes (10Be, 14C). This will allow establishing the regional response to grand solar minimum and addressing potential spatial migrations of the dominant storm tracks lying outside the range of observations.
You will have advanced training in (1) the generation and interpretation of highly-resolved palaeoclimate records using annually-laminated (varved) lake sediments across Europe (2) the use of cosmogenic isotopes detected in those sediments for both age validation and solar activity reconstructions, and (3) tephrochronology in order to integrate the local studies at the regional level.

Policy Impact of Research:

Based on the research focus and methods proposed, the project is expected to have a significant impact on UK and global society during and after the funded period by informing the public about some fundamental but under-publicised aspects of climate change, and on the relevant modelling communities concerned with climate change, local environmental responses and conservation issues, by delivering high quality and well constrained tests of the comparative role of solar variations.

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