The Quaternary Research Cluster (QRG) focus on two related aspects of Quaternary global change: 1) Past Changes in the Earth's climate system using a range of palaeoclimatic proxies and 2) Palaeoenvironmental Change including palaeoceanography, palaeohydrology and anthropogenic changes.
Past Changes in the Earth's climate system: All staff within the QRG are concerned with exploring a range of palaeoclimatic proxies – indicators of past climate variability. QRG staff work at the forefront of applying novel techniques to reconstruct Quaternary environmental change. The lead role taken in the development of biomarker research signals the strategic importance of this work as a key strength and area for development within the group.
The Quaternary Research Cluster has, by design, specifically focussed on two, related, aspects of Quaternary global change:
1. Past Changes in the Earth's climate system:
All staff within the QRG are concerned with exploring a range of palaeoclimatic proxies – indicators of past climate variability. Our flagship research project continues to be the investigation of the remarkable Lake Suigetsu record from Japan. Continuing NERC research grants awarded to Prof Takeshi Nakagawa (~£550k since 2005) and Dr Emma Pearson (~£92k) are helping to maximise our understanding of this globally significant palaeoclimate archive. Lake Suigetsu is a global benchmark study, a terrestrial record of such quality that it can only be matched by ice core records from Greenland and Antarctica.
2. Palaeoenvironmental Change (including palaeoceanograhy, palaeohydrology and anthropogenic changes):
Dr Emma Pearson works at the forefront of applying novel techniques to reconstruct Quaternary environmental change. She is leading research on the use of biomarkers as palaeoenvironmental proxies in lake archives. This has already been acknowledged by the award of an NERC grant (~£92k) in 2008. The lead role taken by the QRG in the development of biomarker research signals the strategic importance of this work as a key strength and area for development within the QRG.
Prof Tony Stevenson is an internationally recognised expert on the history of the interaction between humans, climate and vegetation in the western Mediterranean. He played a lead role in coordinating the IGBP Pages PEPIII (Europe-Africa) transect and has driven the development of near infra-red spectroscopy techniques for the rapid elucidation of environmental change. Dr Steve Juggins is a world-leader in the field of palaeoenvironmental data analysis, with projects funded by NERC, the EU and more recently the UK Environment Agency, on quantifying both long-term natural climate and environmental change and the magnitude of recent anthropogenic impacts on freshwater and marine ecosystems. The QRG has considerable long-standing strength in the area of palaeohydrological system research. This work, sponsored in recent years by amongst others NERC, BIAA and the BA informs our understanding of for example: flood histories and extreme events; catchment erosion and deposition; human impact on the environment and water balance changes. Prof Darrel Maddy is a recognised international leader in the field of Quaternary river systems development, studying how river basins evolve over geological time in response to climate, tectonic and global sea level changes. Dr Dave Passmore is a recognised international expert in the geoarchaeology of river valley environments. His work on the rivers of the north-east is of particular significance in helping us to understand the linkages between human activity and environmental change within our region. Together our work on palaeohydrological systems forms a key milestone on the road to prediction of how rivers will respond to future global change.