Julian Martin

Julian Martin

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Julian Martin

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Start Year

2015 (Cohort 2)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Constraining the influence of the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies on the past, present and future behaviour of the Monte San Lorenzo Glaciers, Patagonia

Research Theme

Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



The Southern Hemisphere Westerlies are a critical component of the Southern Hemisphere climate system, responsible for bringing precipitation to Patagonia, the Sub Antarctic and the Antarctic Peninsula, and for driving oceanic circulation. Past latitudinal variations in the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies may have driven Holocene glacier advances in Patagonia, but the timing of these advances and glacier-climate relationships are poorly constrained. Records of palaeo precipitation, which could act as a proxy for variations in the strength of the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies, are particularly lacking. Under a warming climate, the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies are predicted to migrate further south, which has potential consequences for future glacier response to climate change. In light of this, improving our understanding of this major airflow and its interactions has implications for not only ice masses in Patagonia but also ocean circulation and wider interconnected systems. Glaciers of small ice caps around the periphery of larger ice fields are likely to have short response times and high climate sensitivity. Modelled glacier reconstructions can be used to understand past changes in atmospheric circulation. A critical question is under what climatic conditions did past glacier advances occur, and how will these glaciers behave under various future climate change scenarios? This project will aim to determine controls on the mass balance of outlet glaciers from the Monte San Lorenzo ice cap, Patagonia, through the Holocene and predict their behavior under different climate scenarios on into the next century. Valleys of past outlet glaciers to the north and east of the ice cap contain significant glacial geomorphological features, lake terraces and deposits which currently lack detailed study. This study will utilise detailed geomorphological mapping (from field surveys and high resolution remote sensing) to reconstruct current glaciology, past glacial processes and the relative event stratigraphy. Cosmogenic nuclide dating from glacially transported boulders will reveal a detailed chronological record of Holocene glacier fluctuations. A glacier flowline numerical model, dynamically calibrated to match glacier observations and forced by observed climate data over the last three decades, will be used to test theories of climate forcing through the Holocene, with the chronological record of glacier fluctuations as a point of reference. Holocene runs will be forced with proxy and modelled temperature data, and extensive sensitivity experiments will define an envelope of uncertainty around model parameters.

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