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Environmental Reconstruction

This sub-theme focuses on climatic change and human-environment interactions on a range of temporal scales and using a variety of archival sources and proxies.

Our Environmental Reconstruction staff and PhD students are conducting research in a range of environments from the poles to the equator, from the land to the oceans.


Reconstructing past climates

We use deposits from terrestrial, lake and ocean environments to reconstruct past climates. We investigate climate changes over late Pleistocene and Holocene timescales using lake sediments (eg from Mexico, Turkey and Greenland) and over longer timescales back into the Pleistocene from marine cores in high latitudes north and south.

Recent publications...
  • Dean, J.R., Jones, M.D., Leng, M.J., Noble, S.R., Metcalfe, S.E., Sloane, H.J., Sahy, D., Eastwood, W.J., Roberts, C.N., 2015. Eastern Mediterranean hydroclimate over the late glacial and Holocene, reconstructed from the sediments of Nar lake, central Turkey, using stable isotopes and carbonate mineralogy. Quat. Sci. Rev. 124, 162-174.
  • Swann, G.E., Snelling, A.M., Pike, J., 2016. Biogeochemical cycling in the Bering Sea over the onset of major Northern Hemisphere Glaciation. Paleoceanography 31, 1261-1269.
  • Metcalfe, S.E., Barron, J.A., Davies, S.J., 2015. The Holocene history of the North American Monsoon: 'known knowns' and 'known unknowns' in understanding its spatial and temporal complexity. Quat. Sci. Rev. 120, 1-27.

Human impacts and their intersection with climatic change

We investigate human impacts and their intersection with climatic change through collaborations with archaeologists, social scientists, engineers and environmental scientists. This ranges from more recent issue around nitrogen deposition and cultural eutrophication to geoarchaeological investigation into the relationship between people, the environment and the climate over thousands of years.

Recent publications...
  • Jones, M.D., Djamali, M., Holmes, J., Weeks, L., Leng, M.J., Lashkari, A., Alamdari, K., Noorollahi, D., Thomas, L., Metcalfe, S.E., 2015. Human impact on the hydroenvironment of Lake Parishan, SW Iran, through the late-Holocene. The Holocene 25, 1651-1661.
  • Mills, K., Schillereff, D., Saulnier‐Talbot, É., Gell, P., Anderson, N.J., Arnaud, F., Dong, X., Jones, M., McGowan, S., Massaferro, J., 2016. Deciphering long‐term records of natural variability and human impact as recorded in lake sediments: a palaeolimnological puzzle. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water.
  • Stevenson, M.A., McGowan, S., Anderson, N.J., Foy, R.H., Leavitt, P.R., McElarney, Y.R., Engstrom, D.R., Pla‐Rabés, S., 2016. Impacts of forestry planting on primary production in upland lakes from north‐west Ireland. Global Change Biology 22, 1490-1504.

Calibration, validation and development of novel proxies

The calibration, validation and development of novel proxies for environmental reconstruction is an important strand of our research. Through the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry we are leading research in the development of methodologies for the analysis and interpretation of stable silicon isotopes and the development models regarding the deposition and incorporation of isotopic and biological proxies into sediments.

Recent publications...
  • Jones, M.D., Cuthbert, M.O., Leng, M.J., McGowan, S., Mariethoz, G., Arrowsmith, C., Sloane, H.J., Humphrey, K.K., Cross, I., 2016. Comparisons of observed and modelled lake δ18O variability. Quat. Sci. Rev. 131, Part B, 329-340.
  • Panizzo, V.N., Swann, G.E., Mackay, A.W., Vologina, E., Sturm, M., Pashley, V., Horstwood, M.S., 2016. Insights into the transfer of silicon isotopes into the sediment record. Biogeosciences 13, 147-157.



School of Geography
Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

+44 (0)115 951 5559