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Atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the last greenhouse

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that evidence for global warming is unequivocal and is very likely anthropogenic in origin. However, climate change is not solely anthropogenic and throughout the majority of the Phanerozoic the Earth has been a greenhouse world. Deciphering the climate system and the first order relationship between climate and CO2 during recent greenhouses climate periods is thus crucial to understanding predicted warming. Plants as sessile organisms must acclimate to meet the challenges imposed by climate change; this when coupled with the occurrence of “living fossils” make them ideal basis for the development of quantitative palaeoproxies.

The overarching aim of this fully funded studentship PhD programme is to: 1) develop and refine the methods underpinning the generation of palaeo CO2 estimates from fossil leaves; 2) apply this methodology to deliver estimates of atmospheric CO2 through the Eocene, the last time when the Earth was in a full greenhouse climate.

The student will receive advanced training in palaeoclimate reconstruction, plant ecophysiology, plant taxonomy, biostratigraphy, palynology and statistical modelling.

Field work in both America and Europe to collect fossil material is expected.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, Biology Plant Sciences,or Natural Sciences. For further details please contact Dr Barry Lomax (