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Constraining late Pliocene palaeoceanographic changes in the subarctic North Pacific Ocean

The onset of major northern hemisphere glaciation (NHG) marked a significant threshold in the Earth’s history with the transition from the relatively warm Pliocene to the colder Quaternary which was punctuated by shifts between glacial and interglacial conditions. Whilst this transition at c. 2.73 Ma has been widely studied, scientific understanding of events immediately prior to this juncture are poorly constrained. Ongoing investigations on this interval are being led by the PAGES group “PlioVAR” ( who aim to develop high resolution records of palaeoenvironmental conditions between Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) M2-KM3 (3.3-3.1 Ma) – an interval which may represent an analogue of a “warmer” climate system.

The proposed studentship will contribute to this effort by investigating palaeoceanographic and biogeochemical changes in the subarctic North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. On these sediment cores, a combination of proxies including the isotopic composition of diatoms (δ18O, δ13C and δ30Si), sponges (δ30Si) and foraminifera (δ18O and δ13C), biogenic silica and ice rafted debris (IRD) will be used to: •constrain late Pliocene climate variability in the subarctic North Pacific Ocean from 3.5-3.0 Ma including the key interval of MIS M2-KM3 (3.3-3.1 Ma); •assess oceanographic and biogeochemical interactions between the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean and their impact on the global climate system.

All work will be primarily carried out either at the University of Nottingham or at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory at the British Geological Survey (BGS), institutes that are aligned through the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (, with additional visits to the University of Exeter. Throughout the PhD you will gain strong experience in both isotope geochemistry and palaeoceanographic research. In addition to complementary training from the University of Nottingham/ENVISION DTP, on completion of the PhD you will be fully equipped to follow an academic pathway onto a post-doctoral position.

Applicants must have a BSc (first or upper second class) or Masters level degree in Geoscience, Geography/Geology, Environmental Science or related subject.

Please contact George Swann for enquiries (