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Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Heidelberg) Featured PhD Programmes

Life and Environment During Rapid Climatic Warming 56 million Years Ago: A Geological Analogue for the Future (PEDENTCHOUKUENV20ARIES)

Project Description


One of the most extreme global warming events in the geologic past took place at the boundary between the Palaeocene and Eocene. This Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) occurred ~ 56 million years ago and is considered to be one of the closest analogues for investigating possible effects of anthropogenically released carbon on the Earth system. Several possible carbon sources have been proposed for this event, however, there is a lack of studies integrating geochemical and biological data to explore the link between climate perturbations and palaeoecological changes during the PETM. Having this type of information would allow for a better understanding of the role of increasing temperatures on terrestrial and marine biota during future climate change.


This project will rely on an established collaboration between the primary supervisor and Russian scientists from Geological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia.

The student will be expected to a) review published geological and palaeontological data on several PETM intervals from southern Russia, b) generate new micropalaeontological data and investigate the extinction patterns within the microfossil assemblages, c) acquire new stable isotope data on carbonate sediment samples. Outcrop sediment samples will be available at UEA before the beginning of the project; however, there will be an opportunity for additional fieldwork in Russia.


The student will take advantage of the excellent micropalaeontological, geological, and geochemical expertise available in the School of ENV and will have access to several isotope ratio mass spectrometers at UEA. They will work closely with the supervisors and support staff to generate new foraminiferal species abundance and stable isotope data. There will be an opportunity to interact with international scientists in the laboratory and the field. The project will provide key academic and practical skills for employment in academia or industry.


To succeed in this project, the individual should have a background in Earth Sciences, ideally with knowledge of soft rock geochemistry and/or stable isotopes. Some knowledge of micropalaeontology as applied to palaeoceanography will be beneficial.

More information on the supervisor for this project:
Type of programme: PhD
Start date: October 2020
Mode of study: Full-time or part-time
Studentship length: 3.5 years
Eligibility requirements: First degree in Geology, Earth Science, Environmental Sciences or Environmental Chemistry

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020.

Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award.

Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area.

For further information, please visit View Website


Pagani M., Pedentchouk N., Huber M., et al. (2006) Arctic hydrology during global warming at the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum. Nature 442, 671–675.

Shcherbinina, E., Gavrilov, Y., et al., 2016. Environmental dynamics during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) in the northern Peri-Tethys revealed by high-resolution micropalaeontological and geochemical studies of a Caucasian key section. Palaeogeogr. Palaeocl. 456, 60-81.

McInerney, F.A. & Wing, S.L., (2011) The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum: A perturbation of carbon cycle, climate, and biosphere with implications for the future. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet Sci. 39, 489-516.

Chapman, M. (2010) Seasonal production patterns of planktonic foraminifera in the NE Atlantic Ocean: Implications for paleotemperature and hydrological reconstructions. Paleoceanography 25, PA1101, doi: 10.1029/2008PA001708.

Frieling, J. et al. (2017) Extreme warmth and heat-stressed plankton in the tropics during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Sci. Adv. 3:e1600891.

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