Date and Time
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN
A central research theme in the field of Quaternary Science today relates to the question of whether high-magnitude and abrupt (millennial to decadal scale) shifts in climate occurred synchronously or asynchronously across the globe. The importance of deciphering this lies in its ability to help us understand how our climate system operates.
By investigating palaeoenvironmental archives which preserve long records of past climate fluctuations, we can more accurately assess and model how our climate system is likely to respond to future changes. Polar ice-cores provide a record of past climatic change at annual resolution. These records, however, are remote from the major populated land masses, located predominantly in the temperate latitudes. Attempts to identify whether variability exists in the expression of abrupt climate change at different latitudes are hampered by uncertainties in the timing of events, as measured through traditional chronological techniques (such as radiocarbon dating). Thus, annual records of climate recorded in palaeolake basins (akin to tree rings) provide us with an opportunity to address this challenge as they are one of very few terrestrial archives of environmental change which have the ability to provide data at a resolution comparable or better than that of the polar ice cores. Consequently, they are a key archive for assessing the spatial and temporal differences in regional environmental responses to changing climates.
This talk will outline current research on this theme and will draw on examples from the UK and Sweden. It will also discuss how these records can be linked together using time- synchronous markers, such as volcanic ash layers, which allow leads and lags in the climate system to be assessed whilst circumventing the uncertainties of some more traditional chronological techniques.
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