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Helping to predict the extent of climate change
Our geology and earth systems researchers have made important discoveries about the temperature of the mid-Pliocene epoch (c. 3 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 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 twenty years ago, he demonstrated that sclerochronology provided a more direct way of gaining temperature information for a particular time than other methods.
His most recent study showed the limitations of another tool increasingly used in palaeoeclimatology, 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.
“Dr Johnson has demonstrated exceptional and internationally recognised science in the field and his papers have played a significant role in the USGS PRISM/PlioMIP findings featured in the IPCC AR5 report. He has had a major impact on our understanding of paleoclimate, and that impact will only increase with his research forming one of the cornerstones of our IPCC AR6 program.” Dr Harry Dowsett, Lead Scientist, PRISM Project, US Geological Survey.