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C337: Combined dendro and tephra chronologies for reconstructing Europe’s lateglacial period (Lead Supervisor: Christine Lane, Geography)

Supervisors: Christine Lane (Geography) and Ulf Büntgen (Geography)

Importance of the area of research:

Understanding the mechanisms and impacts of rapid and short-lived climate change requires analogue studies of past climatic events that occurred under different background conditions. The Late Glacial to Early Holocene transition from a generally cooler and dryer into warmer and wetter climate was punctuated by abrupt and intense temperature and hydroclimatic variations. Annually-resolved tree-ring records and widespread volcanic ash horizons provide two of the most effective archives and tools for precisely determining the timing, duration and amplitude of past natural climate variability and comparing regional environmental responses. Bringing together these data and methods at the European-scale, will shed new and important light on the timing, causes and consequences of climatic change during the Late Glacial period.

Project summary:

Operating at the cross-disciplinary interface of dendrochronology and tephrochronology, this project will seek to improve the dating accuracy of both tree-ring and sedimentary palaeoclimate proxy archives for the Europe during the Late Glacial around 14,000 - 11,000 years BP. The project will explore novel approaches to combine these two powerful palaeoclimatic techniques, aiming to evaluate the timing and mechanisms of natural climatic forcing (including volcanic eruptions and solar variations), as well as the speed and variability of environmental responses across the European continent.

What the student will do:

The candidate will compile a European-wide database of both, high-resolution tree-ring and volcanic ash (tephra) chronologies for the late-glacial period. The research will involve synthesis of published data alongside original dendrochronological and tephra research, including radiocarbon measurements. Data will be analysed to explore correlations between the tree-ring record of temperature and hydroclimate with that of other tephra-bearing palaeoclimate archives, as well as the tephra record of explosive volcanism.

Please contact the lead supervisor directly for further information relating to what the successful applicant will be expected to do, training to be provided, and any specific educational background requirements.


Lane, C.S., Brauer, A., Blockley, S.P.E. & Dulski, P. 2013. Volcanic ash reveals time-transgressive abrupt climate change during the Younger Dryas. Geology, vol. 41, pp.1251-1254. DOI:10.1130/G34867.1

Kaiser, K.F., Friedrich, M., Miramont, C., Kromer, B., Sgier, M., Schaub, M., Boeren, I., Remmele, S., Talamo, S., Guibal, F. & Sivan, O. 2012. Challenging process to make the Lateglacial tree-ring chronologies from Europe absolute—an inventory. Quaternary Science Reviews 36:78–90.

Schaub, M., Büntgen, U., Kaiser, K.F., Kromer, B., Talamo, S., Andersen, K.K. & Rasmussen, S.O. 2008. Lateglacial environmental variability in Swiss tree rings. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 29-41

Follow this link to find out about applying for this project

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