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Something in the wind...reconstructing the position and strength of the Southern Hemisphere Westerly winds - QUADRAT


Project Description

The aim of this project is to use peat deposits in southern South America to identify long-term changes in the strength and position of the Southern Westerly winds (SWW) during the last ~2000 years. The SWW fundamentally influence the world’s oceans and climate. They are a major driver of regional and global climate change, vent CO2 between the ocean and the atmosphere and redistribute energy around the globe (Saunders et al., 2018). Comprehensive understanding of the temporal and spatial evolution of these winds remains a significant challenge due to the scarcity of high-resolution archives and appropriate SWW proxies.

Wind intensity in southern South America affects precipitation mainly produced by fronts and low-pressure systems embedded in the prevailing Westerly atmospheric circulation. Water-tables on rain-fed peat bogs in this region are maintained exclusively by this precipitation, making these ecosystems highly sensitive to changes in wind intensity. ‘Natural experiments’ recorded in the peat layers make it possible to measure and date former periods of wetter/drier climatic conditions using the preserved remains of the former vegetation (plant macrofossils) and microorganism assemblages (testate amoebae) (van Bellen et al., 2016).

This studentship will involve the collection of peat profiles and surface samples from Chiloé Island peatlands in southern Chile. A recent NERC funded project (PATAGON) has identified changes in the position and strength of the SWW at the southern boundary of the wind belt, but we still do not have any data for the northern boundary of the wind belt in the Chiloé region. Laboratory work will involve plant macrofossil, charcoal and testate amoebae analyses. A key part of the research will be the creation of precise and accurate chronologies using 14C and 210Pb (Aquino Lopez et al., 2018). This part is crucial, as we not only need to know when something happened, but also how quickly or slowly.

The student will be required to undertake fieldwork (collection of peat profile samples and surface samples), laboratory analyses and low/high power light microscopy. Training will be provided in all of these techniques. Candidates should display a strong computational aptitude, preferably with experience of the R programming language. World class dating facilities and expertise in the generation of 14C and 210Pb age/depth models are available at the 14Chrono Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast. Interested students are strongly encouraged to contact the first supervisor to discuss the project prior to making an application.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Application closing date is 12:00pm (GMT) on 31 January 2019. Applications received after this time will NOT be considered. Additionally, incomplete applications will NOT be considered. When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:
• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• CV
• 2 References (Academic, where possible)


Informal inquiries can be made to Dr D Mauquoy () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

The start date of the project is 1 October 2019.

Funding Notes

To be eligible to apply for a fully-funded DTP studentship, you must:

1. be a UK or EU citizen or a non-EU citizen with permanent settled status in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’)

AND

2. have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (this applies to all citizen categories)

References

Aquino Lopez, M.A., Blaauw, M., Christen, J.A. & Sanderson, N. 2018. Bayesian analysis of 210Pb dating. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics 23, 317-333.

Saunders, K.M., Roberts, S.J., Perren, B., Butz, C., Sime, L., Davies, S., Van Nieuwenhuyze, W., Grosjean, M. & Hodgson, D.A. 2018. Holocene dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds and possible links to CO2 outgassing. Nature Geoscience 11, 650–655.

van Bellen, S., Mauquoy, D., Hughes, P.D.M., Roland, T.P., Daley, T.J., Loader, N.J., Street-Perrott, F.A., Rice, E.M., Pancotto, V.A. & Payne, R.J. 2016. Late-Holocene climate dynamics recorded in the peat bogs of Tierra del Fuego, South America. The Holocene 26, 489-501."

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