About Quaternary Environmental Change

Our main focus is to conduct cutting-edge research on this geological record to help understand the processes of large-scale and long-term global change that occurred during the Quaternary period.

The Quaternary Period is a subdivision of geological time covering approximately the last two million years up to the present day. It is subdivided into two epochs: the Pleistocene (up to about 11,500 years ago) and the Holocene (about 11,500 years ago to the present day).

The Quaternary has been one of extraordinary global environmental and climatic change and understanding the processes and timing of these events can provide critical insights into how the Earth may respond to environmental changes in the future.

Climatic change during the Quaternary produced a rich geological record dominated by sediments and landforms created under glacial, periglacial and temperate environmental conditions.

An important aspect of our work concerns understanding the nature and timing of past glaciation because of the complex linkages between ice ages and the global climate system.

The group conducts research on reconstructing Quaternary ice sheets, ice-marginal fluctuations, ice-sheet dynamics, bedform generation and other landscape changes using terrestrial and marine remote sensing techniques, sedimentary analysis and cosmogenic isotope surface exposure dating.

Quaternary climatic changes also left an imprint in deep water sediments and one of the lines of research within the group includes the study of deep sea cores in relation to the alternation of glacial and interglacial cycles. Periglacial and paraglacial landforms in upland regions are also investigated in order to develop models of landscape evolution following deglaciation. Holocene coastal changes are another research theme and work focuses on sand dune chronologies in Britain, Ireland and the Falkland Islands and utilises modern dating techniques (radiocarbon dating and luminescence dating) to relate dune building episodes to sea level history, climate shifts and human activities.

Research projects

BRITICE-CHRONO – Constraining rates and style of marine‐influenced ice sheet decay (NERC)
– Will climate change in the Arctic increase thelandslide-tsunami risk to the UK? (NERC)
Glaciated North Atlantic Margins (GLANAM) (EU Marie Curie)