Thermal structure of the northwest Atlantic during the Quaternary

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Jack Wharton

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Start Year

2018 (Cohort 5)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Thermal structure of the northwest Atlantic during the Quaternary

Research Theme

Past Life and Environments

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Ocean circulation is a critical component of the earth’s climate system, which it affects via its capacity to store and redistribute heat between the atmosphere, surface ocean, and deep ocean. In particular, AMOC variability is linked to changes in the mean position of the Inter- tropical Convergence Zone, regional warming in the Nordic Seas, and has even been invoked as a player in abrupt paleoclimate shifts. Ocean temperature is both a tracer and driver of ocean circulation, and given the strong link between ocean circulation and climate, determining the temperature evolution of the oceans is vital in order to develop a better understanding of past climate change. Since modern observations are limited to the last ~150 years at most, paleoceanographic proxies are required to reconstruct past changes in ocean circulation beyond the instrumental record. Over the last few decades there has been remarkable progress in the development of elemental and isotopic proxies, including refinements in foraminiferal Mg/Ca and clumped isotope paleothermometry. When used in combination, these proxies have the potential to deliver robust estimates of oceanic thermal structure and will therefore provide new insights into past ocean circulation that will enable the testing and improvement of climate model simulations used for future predictions.

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