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Lancaster University will lead on training scientists of the future who will improve our understanding of soils, which are key to tackling many of today’s global challenges, including food, water and energy security.
This follows major funding to launch a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in soil science at Lancaster. It has been awarded to the Soils Training and Research Studentships (STARS) consortium led by Professor Phil Haygarth. The other members of the consortium are Bangor, Cranfield, Nottingham, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Rothamsted Research, the British Geological Survey and the James Hutton Institute.
This £2.3m programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) aims to create a new generation of highly-skilled soil scientists who understand the soil ecosystem from both environmental and biological viewpoints.
Dr Barry Lomax from the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham has been appointed as Visiting Research Associate within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, British Geological Survey. Dr Lomax will hold this honorary position with the British Geological Survey alongside his post and ongoing research projects at Nottingham. Barry is a lecturer in Environmental Science at Nottingham and his research is focused on quantifying how the Earth's climate has changed over geologic time, how these changes have influenced the Earth's terrestrial biosphere and how in turn the Earth's terrestrial biosphere has influenced climate. Particular interests include palaeopolyploidy and plant genome size over geological time, plant responses to CO2, and sporopollenin chemistry as a palaeoclimate proxy.
Late Cenozoic climate history in Africa was punctuated by episodes of variability, characterized by the appearance and disappearance of large freshwater lakes within the East African Rift Valley. In the Baringo-Bogoria basin, a well-dated sequence of diatomites and fluviolacustrine sediments documents the precessionally forced cycling of an extensive lake system between 2.70 Ma and 2.55 Ma. One diatomite unit was studied, using the oxygen isotope composition of diatom silica combined with X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and taxonomic assemblage changes, to explore the nature of climate variability during this interval. Data reveal a rapid onset and gradual decline of deepwater lake conditions, which exhibit millennial-scale cyclicity of ∼1400–1700 yr, similar to late Quaternary Dansgaard-Oeschger events. These cycles are thought to reflect enhanced precipitation coincident with increased monsoonal strength, suggesting the existence of a teleconnection between the high latitudes and East Africa during this period. Such climatic variability could have affected faunal and floral evolution at the time.
Wilson, K.E., Maslin, M.A., Leng, M.J., Kingston, J.D., Deino, A.L., Edgar, R.K., Mackay, A.W. 2014. East African lake evidence for Pliocene millennial-scale climate variability. Geology.