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Resolving abrupt palaeoenvironmental changes in a lake sediment sequence from Ioannina, northwest Greece

Resolving abrupt palaeoenvironmental changes in a lake sediment sequence from Ioannina, northwest Greece

PhD student: Amy McGuire
Supervisor: Christine Lane
Collaborators: Ian Lawson, Katy Roucoux (University of St. Andrews).

The Quaternary period, the last 2.58 million years of the Earth's history, is marked by a number of shifts in climate on a range of temporal and spatial scales. Some, such as glacial-interglacial cycles, occur over tens of thousands of years and are marked by dramatic variations in global ice volume. Others, such as Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles, demonstrate abrupt changes on far shorter, often sub-millennial time scales. Whilst the latter are found frequently in both the polar ice core records and the northern hemisphere marine record, very few terrestrial studies have been shown to record a notable vegetation response to these environmental changes.

This study aims to identify the nature and timing of terrestrial ecosystem responses to these sub-millenial changes in climate at Lake Ioannina, North West Greece, and the potential impacts of these changes on early human populations. This will be achieved through a high-resolution study of the pollen in order to understand changes in local and regional vegetation in response to these abrupt changes in climate. This vegetation record will be supplemented through the study of both visible and 'crypto' tephra (volcanic ash), which will allow precise dating of the record. Tephra marker layers will allow precise correlation of the Ioannina record with other key archives of vegetation change in the Mediterranean region, such as those from Lake Ohrid and Tenaghi Phillipon, and nearby archaeological sites. Additionally, the study will use the pollen and tephra records to evaluate the nature and timing of vegetation changes at Ioannina in relation to the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles identified in the marine and polar ice core records.


Image credit: Ian Lawson