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Earth system science and climate change

This theme aims to integrate new discoveries of past climate change with the impacts of contemporary climate change on ecosystems, communities and organisms. For this we draw on expertise in palaeoceanography, sclerochronology, ocean physics, tidal mixing, ocean and terrestrial biogeochemistry, ecology and applied psychology. The Ocean Physics group applies marine turbulence measurement techniques to quantify and parameterize key processes driving fluxes across critical interfaces, leading to improved predictive capacity of global climate models.

  • Research in this theme has been greatly strengthened by the Bangor-led Climate Change Consortium of Wales (C3W), a 10-year, £4M programme launched by HEFCW in 2009.

  • Potential mitigation of climate change through marine renewable energy and enhanced management of terrestrial and coastal environments is a major focus of applied research.

  • Research aligns closely to international policy processes, for example, through input to ecosystem carbon stock and flux estimates for the 2013 IPCC assessment.


BEAA research in the field of earth system science and climate change has been heavily supported by NERC ranging from:

  • Ocean physics, in which Professor Tom Rippeth has led in BEAA on the following projects: The environment of the Arctic: climate, ocean and sea ice (, A thermocline nutrient pump (, Ocean surface mixing, ocean sub-mesoscale interaction study (OSMOSIS), and Pcynocline mixing in shelf seas (PcynMix) jointly with partners including the National Oceanography Centre; Professor David Bowers on Measurement of the abundance and optical significance of sub-micron sized particles in the ocean; Dr Mattias Green on Fluxes across the sloping topography of the north east Atlantic (FASTNEt) and Mixing in the open ocean from the Last Glacial Maximum to present date: tidal dissipation and ocean resonance; and Dr Yueng-Djern Lenn on Understanding the Arctic continental shelf mixing regimes and their impact on shelf sea-circulation and upper ocean stratification.

  • Climage change and ocean biogeochemistry, in which Professor James Scourse has led in BEAA on the project BRITICE-CHRONO: Constraining rates and style of marine influenced ice sheet decay; Professor Chris Richardson on Ultra-high-resolution proxy record of last millennium North Atlantic temperature anomalies (ULTRA); Professor Hilary Kennedy on Determination of the CO2 system at sub-zero temperatures in seawater and seawater-derived brines, The role of sea ice dynamics in carbonate mineral production and its fate in the Polar Oceans and Do glendonites provide faithful records of bottom water temperatures?; and Dr Stephanie Wilson on Carbon and nutrient dynamics and fluxes over shelf systems.


Notable joint Bangor-Aberystwyth papers in the area of earth system science and climate change include:

Marshall, MH; Lamb, HF; Huws, D; Davies, SJ; Bates, R; Bloemendal, J; Boyle, J; Leng, MJ; Umer, M; Bryant, C (2011) Late Pleistocene and Holocene drought events at Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Global and Planetary Change 78: 147-161. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2011.06.004

Callaghan, TV; Jonasson, C; Thierfelder, T; Yang, ZL; Hedenas, H; Johansson, M; Molau, U; Van Bogaert, R; Michelsen, A; Olofsson, J; Gwynn-Jones, D; Bokhorst, S; Phoenix, G; Bjerke, JW; Tommervik, H; Christensen, TR; Hanna, E; Koller, EK; Sloan, VL (2013) Ecosystem change and stability over multiple decades in the Swedish subarctic: complex processes and multiple drivers. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 368: 20120488. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0488


Further details about staff working in this area:

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