Deep time climate variability

Research area 6

To appreciate the full range of Earth's climate variability it is necessary to look far back into geologic time where we find intervals when the world has been much warmer and colder than today. Our mission is to reconstruct and interpret past climate variations on long timescales by comparing computer simulations and data from natural archives such as rocks, sediments and fossils. This helps us place limits on natural climate variability and better understand the Earth system.
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Uplifted sedimentary stata of the early Permian Gipshuken Formation in Billefjorden, western Spitsbergen. Image credit: Love Dalén.

To understand the full range of climate variability on Earth it is necessary to look far back into geologic time where external forcings at tectonic (slow acting over millions of years) and orbital (rhythmic fluctuations over thousands of years) have left imprints of environmental change in a variety of Earth materials. By reconstructing ancient climates using these ‘natural archives’ and running computer models, it is possible to gain insight into the workings of the climate system, which may help us place limits on natural climate variability and anticipate possible future climate change.

RA6 is a meeting place for Bolin Centre scientists interested in climate variability over  such long timescales, with a focus on the pre-Quaternary. The main activities are reconstruction and numerical modeling of:
• the long-term evolution of climate parameters, including, oceans, atmosphere, ice-sheets, biota, weathering and carbon cycling, as far back as the Neoproterozoic (ca. 1000–540 million years ago), and
• shorter lived ‘events’ and ‘perturbations’ including warmings, coolings and extinctions with an emphasis on climate forces and feedbacks on millennial to hundreds of thousands of year time scales.

Participants in RA6 represent a wide spectrum of field, laboratory and computer-based disciplines, ranging from sedimentology, micropaleontology, palynology, paleobotany, geomorphology, geochronolgy, geochemistry, paleoceanography, marine geophysics and metamorphic petrology to theory and large-scale modeling of ocean and atmosphere circulation, and ice sheet dynamics.

Using the Bolin Centre platform we aim to integrate RA6's combined observational and theoretical expertise to enhance understanding of:
• glacial-interglacial ocean circulation regimes, sea ice history, subsea permafrost, and marine archives,
• timing, forcing, magnitude, frequency and feedback mechanisms of glaciation, deglaciation and the prominent late Cenozoic coolings,
• the carbon cycle and its interaction with atmospheric circulation,
• long-term peatland and permafrost dynamics and methane release
• climate/biosphere interaction and paleoecology
• Mesozoic and Cenozoic greenhouse to icehouse climate switching.


Research Area 6 Co-Leader
Helen Coxall
Senior Lecturer in Cenozoic

Department of Geological Sciences (IGV)
Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm

Tel. +46 8 674 78 58

Helen Coxall, Bolin Centre for Climate Research, photo: Eva Dalin

Research Area 6 Co-Leader
Margret Steinthorsdottir
Post-doctoral Researcher

Swedish Museum of Natural History
affiliated with
Department of Geological Sciences (IGV)
Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm

Tel. +46 8 16 47 24

Margret Steinthorsdottir, Bolin Centre, Photo: Eva Dalin
• Complete list over our members
Bolin Centre for Climate Research
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