Environmental Change > Palaeoclimate
The climate of the Earth is always changing. In the past it has altered as a result of natural causes. Today, however, the term climate change is generally used when referring to changes in our climate which have been identified since the early part of the 1900s. The changes we've seen over recent years are thought to be mainly as a result of human behaviour rather than due to natural changes in the atmosphere, however it is important to understand how climate has changed in the past (over centennial and millennial timescales) in order to see the effects of future climate change on our environment. Reconstructing climate records over centennial and millennial time scales is a major focus of research within NIGL.
As temperatures rise, so will sea level. Although ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could be affected by warming temperatures, it is thought that they will only contribute to sea level rise if melting of ice at the polar regions occurs over the coming thousands years. As sea levels rise our coastlines will be affected and our oceans will become less saline. In order to understand what might be happening to the world's oceans it is important to see how the oceans and our coastal margins responded to sea-level fluctuations in the past. This is an NIGL priority area of research.