How recent climate changes have impacted on river systems - Dr Richard Pope

Dr Richard Pope

Dr Richard Pope, University Reader in Environmental Magnetism

Spectacular Mediterranean landscapes could provide vital clues about the Earth's changing climate.

Dr Richard Pope is focusing on climate change over the past two millennia across southern Europe to establish how recent climate changes (and human activity) have impacted on river systems and to predict future river behaviour. He is using proxy evidence to recreate palaeo-flow patterns and to establish whether there will be greater flooding and erosion in the Mediterranean in response to future climates.

He is focusing on Spain, Cyprus, Turkey, Italy and Greece, where his work largely concerns coastal sites and former lakesides. He analyses soil properties and other materials to reconstruct the local climatic histories of these areas over the last 5,000 years.

Richard is also interested in past human effects on environments. He is looking to past civilisations, such as the Minoan in Crete and Mycenaeans in Greece, for inspiration and clues as to how populations grew and cultivated land. His research suggests that climate change moves in cycles and that Earth has endured climates hotter than today's.

By analysing soil samples, rock deposits and other landscape features Richard's team have been able to assess settlement patterns, rainfall levels and climate clues. Iron levels and oxygen isotope concentration in samples are being used by the research team to create a picture of local climate fluctuation in the recent past, and Richard is hoping that his current work will enable his team to advise countries in this region on future droughts. 

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