Our research within the field of palaeoclimatology focuses on the Arctic Ocean and adjoining marine areas that impact on the global climate. Over the past ten years, the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and the marginal marine areas has decreased in both thickness and extent, whilst ocean temperatures have risen.
Paleoclimatologists and palaeoceanographers reconstruct the marine conditions of the past using ‘paleo proxies’ (indirect measurements) of sea ice and sea temperatures, based on fossil foraminifera and diatoms from marine sediment samples. While instrumental data for sea ice and sea temperature is available for around the last 100 years, marine sediment samples can be used to extend the time series for sea conditions hundreds and thousands of years back in time.
An understanding of palaeoclimates of the past is important because this is where the baselines for natural climate change are defined. We need this information to help us put recent observations into a long-term context and to improve the global climate models, to enable us to produce more precise climate forecasts for the future.