Support us | Visit us | Contact us
Organised by Dr Dan Lunt, Professor Harry Elderfield, Dr Gavin Foster, Professor Richard Pancost and Professor Maureen Raymo
A number of proxy methods are used to infer past atmospheric CO2 concentrations, such as fossilised leaves, paleo soils, and isotopes in ocean sediments. Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses and methodological uncertainties. This meeting will aim to compare methods and their available records, leading to a deeper understanding of the processes which influence the proxies and the Cenozoic record of atmospheric CO2.
Programme available to download here (PDF).
This satellite meeting directly follows a broader Discussion meeting on Warm climates of the past - a lesson for the future? taking place at the Royal Society in London from 10 - 11 October 2011.
Biographies and audio recordings are available below.
Dr Dan Lunt, University of Bristol, UK Organiser
Dan Lunt is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. He has over 10 years experience in developing and running Climate and Earth System models in order to address questions and hypotheses related to past and future climate change, and was one of the pioneers of work on 'Earth system sensitivity' - the long-term equilibrium response of the Earth system to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations. He is on the PlioMIP (Pliocene Modelling Intercomparison Project) and PALSEA (PALeo-constraints on SEA-level rise) advisory boards, and is founding Chief Executive Editor of Geoscientific Model Development, a journal designed primarily for the description and evaluation of models of the Earth System. He has provided evidence to a UK Government Select Committee on geoengineering and climate change. He is currently involved in many projects, including NERC-funded awards "Using inter-glacials to assess future sea-level scenarios (iGlass)" and "Testing ice sheet models and modelled estimates of Earth's climate sensitivity using Miocene palaeoclimate data", and the EU-funded "Past4Future: Climate change – Learning from the past climate".
Professor Harry ElderfieldOrganiser
Dr Gavin Foster, University of Southampton, UKOrganiser
Gavin Foster is a NERC Advanced Research Fellow and has recently moved from the University of Bristol to take up a Lectureship position at the School of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton. He gained a PhD in isotope geochemistry in 2000 from the Open University and much of his research since has focused on the use of novel isotope systems to gain insights into key problems in Earth System Science. Since 2003 he has been interested in the reconstruction of atmospheric pCO2 beyond the reach of the ice cores using boron isotopes in foraminifera recovered from deep marine sediments.
Professor Rich Pancost, University of Bristol, UK Organiser
Richard Pancost started his academic career at the Pennsylvania State University, where he obtained his PhD in Geosciences; this was followed by a postdoctoral research position at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and then a lectureship appointment at the University of Bristol in 2000. He is is currently a Professor of Biogeochemistry in the School of Chemistry at Bristol and is the head of the Cabot Institute’s Global Change research theme. He is an organic geochemist with specific expertise in geomicrobiology and palaeoclimate reconstruction, with an emphasis on developing and applying molecular proxies for ancient carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures. Recent research highlights include new sea surface temperature records for the Paleogene and biomarker records for methane cycling and hydrological changes during past episodes of global warmth. He has been involved in numerous projects, including five EU grants, and has numerous collaborators from across the globe.
In recognition for his early career accomplishments, he was awarded the 2005 Schenk Award by the European Association of Organic Geochemists, and in 2011 he was awarded the RS Wolfson Research Merit Award.
Professor Maureen Raymo, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, USA
Professor Maureen E Raymo is a paleoclimatologist and marine geologist who works at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University where she is also Director of the Lamont Deep Sea Sample Repository. She studies the history and causes of climate change in Earth's past. In 1988 she proposed the uplift‐weathering hypothesis that tied global cooling and the onset of polar glaciations in the late Cenozoic to a drawdown in atmospheric CO2 caused by the uplift of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. In addition to publishing fundamental work on the stratigraphy and chronology of the late Neogene, Raymo has also proposed hypotheses explaining why ice sheets appear to wax and wane primarily at the Earth’s obliquity frequency over much of the Plio-Pleistocene. In 2002, she was awarded the Robert L and Bettie P Cody Award in Ocean Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is a fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor Paul Pearson, Cardiff University, UK
Professor Pearson graduated with a BA in Geology from Oxford in 1987 before completing a PhD at Cambridge in 1990 on the evolution of Eocene planktonic foraminifera. He then spent several years as a Research Fellow in Cambridge funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, following which, he was based at Bristol University as a Royal Society Research Fellow. He joined the School in January 2003.
Professor Pearson is interested in extracting climatic information from deep sea cores and sediments. He specializes in evolutionary and geochemical studies of planktonic foraminifera, and what they tell us about the long history of climate change on Earth. He has helped develop new proxies for determining past seawater pH and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and hence the history of the greenhouse effect. His studies range from the Cretaceous period to Recent.
Prof Pearson has sailed on several occasions with the Ocean Drilling Program. Over the last few years, he has been co-ordinating geological exploration and drilling programmes in coastal Tanzania and Java (Indonesia) where excellently preserved samples have been obtained, providing new insights into the history of tropical climate.
Dr Bärbel Hönisch, Columbia University, USA
Bärbel Hönisch is an Assistant Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York. She obtained a Diploma in Biology from the University of Bremen, and a PhD in Natural Sciences, studying at the Alfred-Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany.
Her research is focused on understanding the role of the ocean, and in particular the role of marine carbonate chemistry in global climate change. As she was originally trained as a (marine) biologist, her way of approaching paleoceanographic questions often includes a biological component. Culture experiments with living marine calcifiers are an important tool of her research to validate paleoceanographic proxies in foraminifers and corals, in particular the boron isotope proxy for seawater pH. She applies those findings to the reconstruction of seawater carbonate chemistry and atmospheric CO2 variations through Earth history. Current projects include the reconstruction of ocean acidification at the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum, estimating the secular variation of boron isotopes in seawater and the validation of the B/Ca proxy in planktic foraminifers.
Dr Phil Sexton, The Open University, UK
Dr Sexton is a palaeoceanographer whose research aims to understand the nature and mechanisms of change in global climate and the carbon cycle during key 'greenhouse' regimes in Earth history. Most recently, this work has centred on exploring mechanisms driving extreme global warming events (‘hyperthermals’) that punctuate the Eocene greenhouse, the results of which implicate a larger-than-modern, dynamic reservoir of carbon in the oceans. He is also investigating the sensitivity of carbon cycling and global climate change to orbital forcing during the Eocene, and the role of the carbon cycle in initiating long-term Cenozoic climatic deterioration. Recent work also involves exploring the interactions between ocean circulation, ocean carbonate chemistry and atmospheric CO2 across key threshold transitions in global climate during the Plio-Pleistocene.
Dr Aradhna Tripati, University of California, USA
Aradhna Tripati is an assistant professor at UCLA in the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and Earth & Space Sciences, and a Visiting Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Her research is focused on the development and application of novel tools for studying climate change. She graduated with a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2002. For the next eight years she was a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK, where she studied past warm periods in Earth’s history including the history of ice sheets in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Dr Mike Ellis, British Geological Survey, UK
Dr Michael Ellis joined the BGS in 2008 as Head of the Climate Change programme. Dr Ellis oversees the development of a broad range of climate-change research, including palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironmental analyses of past episodes of rapid climate change. Research includes analyses of CO2 proxies via alkenones (in coccolithophorids), B/Ca ratios (in benthic forams), biome and biotope reconstruction, palaeoclimate GCM modelling, as well cognate investigations of soil-carbon dynamics and flux. Ellis was the founder and current Chair of the American Geophysical Union’s Earth and Planetary Surface Processes Focus Group, and he has served as an associate editor of Journal of Geophysical Research, Surface Earth, JGR Solid Earth, Basin Research, Geology,Biogeosciences, and he is currently on the Editorial Advisory Board of EOS.
Professor James C. Zachos, University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), USA
James C Zachos is a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). He received his PhD in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1988, was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, and a fellow at the University of Cambridge. Zachos’s research primarily focuses on the dynamics of climate and ocean carbon cycle coupling over geologic time, particularly during periods of rapid and extreme change. He has authored/co-authored 115 peer-reviewed publications on topics ranging from Eocene global warming and ocean acidification to Oligocene ice-sheet evolution, and was a contributor to the 2007 IPCC report. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and the California Academy of Sciences, and is a recipient of the National Young Investigator, AGU Emiliani, and Humboldt Awards. He is also a member elect (2011) of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr Erin McClymont, Newcastle University, UK
BSc (Hons) Geography, University of St Andrews, 2000; PhD “Surface ocean circulation and organic carbon export across the mid-Pleistocene climate transition”, University of Durham, 2004. Dr McClymont’s research focuses on the application and development of organic geochemistry (biomarker) proxies to a range of sedimentary archives, including marine sediments and peatlands. She is interested in applying these proxies to understand how key ocean/atmosphere connections have developed during the late Cenozoic, and to consider the biogeochemical feedbacks which may also have been important. She has tested the viability of the alkenone-based proxy for sea-surface temperatures (UK37’) in the face of extinction and evolution events in their source organisms (the Haptophyte algae). She has used novel alkenone distributions to reconstruct subpolar water mass distributions over the last 3 million years, exploited the differences between the UK37’ and TEX86 proxies to understand changes in upwelling intensity on centennial timescales, and identified evidence for changing greenhouse gas production from European peatlands over the last 3000 years. In seeking to understand the role played by atmospheric CO2 concentrations in some of the climate changes she has reconstructed, Dr McClymont has also been working with stable carbon isotope measurements of the alkenone biomarkers in order to develop a record of pCO2 which can be used to consider the controls and impacts of CO2 variability in the past.
Dr Helen Coxall, Cardiff University, UK
Helen Coxall graduated with a BSc in Geology/Biology from Manchester University before completing a PhD at Bristol on the evolution of Eocene planktonic foraminifera and climate. She held Research Fellowships at the National Oceanographic Centre, UK (Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851) and the University of Rhode Island, before joining Cardiff University as a Royal Society University Research Fellow in 2005. She returned to Cardiff in 2010 after 18 months as a visiting lecturer at Stockholm University.
Helen is interested in ocean and climate systems of the early Cenozoic, when atmospheric CO2 is thought to have been 2-3 X preindustrial levels. She has a particular interest in pelagic ecosystems and the ‘service’ role they play in responding to or modulating climate through the carbon system. Her research involves generating marine geochemical climate proxy records (typically CaCO3 and CaCO3–based oxygen and carbon stable isotopes) using benthic and planktonic foraminifera to reconstruct changes in water column physical, chemical and biological properties. Her expertise in planktonic foraminifera taxonomy, isotopic palaeoecology, evolution and taphonomy provides optimal constraints on proxies of ocean thermal and nutrient stratification, which are critical for obtaining realistic estimates of surface ocean/atmospheric CO2.
Dr Appy Sluijs, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Appy Sluijs (1980) is an Assistant Professor at Biomarine Sciences, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Sluijs studied biology and biogeology in Utrecht and at the University of California at Santa Cruz, USA. Sluijs is a member of The Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the Outstanding Young Scientists Award of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in 2007. In 2010, he received the prestigious Vening Meinesz Prize for young geoscientists and the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Environmental Sciences. He is an editor of the open access journal Climate of the Past, published by the European Geosciences Union.
His research focuses on reconstructing temperature, hydrology, biogeochemical cycles and sea level during episodes in Earth’s history that were characterized by rapidly increasing, or generally high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. He combines micropaleontological and geochemical techniques to understand system Earth under ‘greenhouse’ conditions. Funded through an ERC Starting Grant, he has recently started to quantify the physiological and biogeochemical response of dinoflagellates to changing seawater CO2 concentrations and pH. This response may be developed into a proxy to reconstruct ocean acidification in the geological past.
Dr Michael White, Nature, USA
Michael White grew up in the Washington DC area and in Santa Fe, NM. He received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science in 1992 from the University of Virginia, where he conducted research on leaf physiology and morphology with Hank Shugart. He studied remote sensing, carbon cycle modeling, and vegetation phenology with Steven Running at the University of Montana and obtained his MS in 1996 and Phd in 1999. Until 2008, Michael held a faculty position at Utah State University. He then accepted the position of climate science editor for Nature and moved to London for two years. In 2010, he transferred to Nature’s San Francisco office, where he now holds the position of Senior Editor.
Dr Dan Breecker, University of Texas at Austin, US
Dan Breecker received a BA from Amherst College in Geology in 2001, where he completed a senior thesis on quartz-mica schists from Syros Greece as part of a Keck Consortium project. After college he worked for the USGS for one summer as part of the USGS/NAGT summer intern program. Dan began graduate school at the University of New Mexico in 2002 where he worked on calibrating an oxygen isotope geothermometer for his M.S. research and studied stable isotope ratios of CO2, water and calcite in desert soils for his PhD research. He graduated from UNM in 2008 after which he did one year of an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona before starting his current position at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr Dana Royer, Wesleyan University, USA
Dana Royer is an Associate Professor at Wesleyan University in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He explores how plants can be used to reconstruct ancient environments, and the paleo-physiological underpinnings behind these plant-environment relationships. Current areas of interest include the reconstruction of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from the stomatal distributions in plant leaves, and the development of mechanistically-grounded proxies for climate and leaf ecology from the size and shape of fossil leaves. He also compiles Phanerozoic carbon dioxide records and investigates the strength of carbon dioxide-temperature coupling over multi-million-year timescales. In 2010, Dana was awarded the Donath Young Scientist Award from the Geological Society of America.
Dr Roderik van de Wal, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Roderik van de Wal, Utrecht University, The Netherlands is a climatologist interested in ice in the climate system in the broadest context. He has been working on the contribution of small glaciers to sea level, changes of the Greenland ice sheet, by means of mass balance observations and ice sheet modelling. More recently the ice sheet modelling has been extended to all ice sheets on Earth over long time scales addressing ways to integrate key paleoclimate proxies as benthic d18O records and information from ice cores in a consistent framework with ice sheet models as tool to unravel the temperature and ice volume changes of d18O records. Lately this work resulted in the reconstruction of CO2 over the last 20 Myrs.
Professor Rob DeConto, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
Rob DeConto is a Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He maintains adjunct research positions at Columbia University and Victoria University of Wellington. Rob’s background spans geology, oceanography, and atmospheric science, and he has held research positions at both the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His early research used numerical climate models to better understand the mechanisms responsible for past periods of extreme global warmth. In recent years, his research has shifted toward the polar regions- including fieldwork in Antarctica, the development of coupled climate-ice sheet models, and the application of those models to a wide range of past and future climate scenarios. Rob currently serves on a number of national and international science boards and advisory panels and he is currently co-chair of ACE (Antarctic Climate Evolution), an international research program under the auspices of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
Dr Matt Huber, Purdue University, USA
Matthew Huber studies the ocean-atmosphere interactions and climate in past and future greenhouse climates. His studies began as an undergraduate in the Geophysics Department at the University of Chicago, followed by a Masters at UC Los Angeles, a PhD at UC Santa Cruz, and a subsequent post-doctoral work at the Danish Center for Earth System Science in the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University. He has been a professor at Purdue University since 2003.
Dr Andy Ridgwell, University of Bristol, UK
Andy Ridgwell is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor in Earth System Modelling at the University of Bristol. Although in practice spending most of his time tending to the every need of 6 cats, his research addresses fundamental questions surrounding the past and future controls on atmospheric CO2, and the nature of the relationship between CO2, climate, global biogeochemical cycles, and life. He is also closely involved in research into future ocean acidification impacts and the effectiveness (or otherwise) of geoengineering. He develops his own numerical analytical tools (`Earth system models´) to ask questions and test hypotheses regarding the functioning of the Earth system.
Book prize event 6 Mar
History of science lecture 7 Mar
Enter your email address to receive updates about scientific meetings at the Royal Society
Full listing of our events and exhibitions.
Watch videos of past events.
Most of our talks are free and open to the public.
We host major conferences for leading scientists.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Contact the events team.