Climate change

The Earth's environment is in a state of continual change, driven by physical processes, biological processes (including human activity), and the interaction between them, all operating at a range of temporal and spatial scales. How the Earth's environment might change in the future and what effect this will have on life is a central question of the Earth Sciences.

It is essential that we understand as rigorously as possible the natural climate-change events that the Earth has experienced in the most recent past, that we know the current state of environmental conditions in order to responsibly assess changes to those conditions, and that we can quantitatively predict the impact to the environment of future climate change. To this end, data acquired through the geoenvironmental facilities at BGS are critical to the success of climate change studies.

Research focus includes: biostratigraphical (micropalaeontology and palynology) and mineralogical analyses of past rapid climate change events, which enable us to construct global climate models; assessment of organic pollutants and soil metals, including nanoparticles, which provides a critical initial condition for their potential remobilization in future climates; and analyses of soil geochemistry, including quantitative measurement of soil organic carbon, which remains globally one of the least understood environments of carbon-cycling.

Selected research

Lignin structureCarbon fluxes in the Dyfi Estuary, Wales

Investigating estuarine responses to tides and storms using the molecular tracer lignin.