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Pollen-based reconstructions of the vegetation and climate of the circum-Mediterranean region during the Holocene

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The vegetation of the circum-Mediterranean region is highly sensitive to climate change, and Mediterranean ecosystems are likely to be negatively impacted by future climate warming. Ecosystem responses to past climate changes provide one way of examining their resilience, but the dynamics of past vegetation changes in this region are as yet poorly understood. Pollen records from sedimentary archives provide information about vegetation changes through time. However, as there is no direct relationship between pollen abundance and the abundance of particular species on the landscape, pollen data has to be interpreted using modelling tools that account for differences in pollen productivity, dispersal and deposition. There are several such modelling tools of varying levels of complexity, and it is unclear which of these are best suited to reconstructing past vegetation changes in climatically-diverse and topographically complex regions. A major goal of this project is to reconstruct changes in vegetation patterns across southern Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa through the Holocene using data from existing pollen databases (European Pollen Database, African Pollen Database, EMBSeCBIO data base). Several different vegetation modelling tools, including biomisation, MARCO POLO and the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm, will be compared in order to determine an appropriate methodology. Reconstructed vegetation changes will then be used to make quantitative reconstructions of climate variables through time. The project will address the likely causes of the observed changes by comparing the vegetation and climate reconstructions with earth-system model simulations. http://www.reading.ac.uk/s-p-harrison.aspx

Please submit an application for a PhD in Environmental Science at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/graduateschool/prospectivestudents/gs-how-to-apply.aspx quoting the reference GS17-203 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding section

Funding Notes

This PhD position is fully-funded by the ERC project “GC2.0: Unlocking the past for a clearer future”.

The ideal candidate for this project would have a Masters in an appropriate science, good programming and numerical skills, an understanding of the mechanisms of past climate change, and an interest in applying palaeoclimate information to improve our understanding of biosphere dynamics. Good team and communication skills are essential.

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