Project proposal details

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Project title
Land versus lake temperatures: modelling the influence of climate changes on the habitat of aquatic plants and animals
Contact name
Colin Prentice
Project based at
Silwood Park (Imperial)
Project description
his project is an opportunity to solve another conundrum about Holocene climate change in Europe, and how organisms responded to it. During the early Holocene, ca 10,000 years ago, the Scandinavian ice sheet had disappeared and most of northern Europe was forested. But there was still ice over North America, and climate models suggest that the resulting atmospheric circulation pattern caused cold summer conditions “downwind” across northern Europe. The composition of the forests (dominated by Betula, Pinus and other cold-tolerant genera) seems to agree. Yet at the same time, warmth-requiring aquatic plants (including the water chestnut, Trapa natans) and animals (including the European pond tortoise, Emys orbicularis) occurred far to the north of their present ranges. This apparent disparity between land and lake temperatures was noted more than half a century ago – long before modern computational methods were available to analyse such problems quantitatively. The project will model lake temperatures (using a widely used one-dimensional lake model, FLAKE) in combination with climate model outputs from the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project. It will test the hypothesis that lake temperatures were high due to the Earth’s early Holocene orbital configuration (July perihelion and high obliquity leading to enhanced solar radiation), while land temperatures were cooled by advection over the cold North Atlantic.
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

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Project length limitations
9 months
Suitable for
Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MRes), Ecosystem and Environmental Change MRes