Case study

Helping to predict the extent of climate change

The past informs the future

Our geology and earth systems researchers have made important discoveries about how expected climate change might affect the world. The University of Derby researchers have looked at the temperatures of the mid-Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago).

The mid-Pliocene could demonstrate how higher future temperatures might affect the world and our researchers’ data is helping make more accurate predictions about expected climate change this century.

Dr Andrew Johnson is our Visiting Research Fellow and was previously University Reader in Sclerochronology, which is the study of physical and chemical variations in the hard tissues of animals and how these relate to the environment in which they lived.

Despite being a relatively new field, particularly in relation to climate change, when Dr Johnson began his research 20 years ago, he demonstrated that sclerochronology provided a more direct way of gaining temperature information for a particular time than other methods.

"Dr Johnson has demonstrated exceptional and internationally recognised science in the field. He has had a major impact on our understanding of palaeoclimate, and that impact will only increase." Dr Harry Dowsett, Lead Scientist for the US Geological Survey's PRISM Project

Dr Johnson's most recent study showed the limitations of another tool increasingly used in palaeoclimatology, suggesting that the alkenone unsaturation index provides only the maximum temperature during the year, whereas sclerochronology shows seasonal variation.

His data features in the latest InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and will enable more rigorous testing of climate change models and more accurate predictions of future climate.

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