Historical sea-level changes in Australia: Testing the Arctic Ice Melt Hypothesis

Sophie Williams

My project will seek to quantify whether ice melt from the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic glaciers during a warm period in the 20th century caused the rapid change in sea-level rate prior to anthropogenic influence during the latter half of the 19th century and earlier half of the 20th century. Melting events from glaciers and ice sheets produce their own distinct “fingerprint” which can be tracked. Due to the gravitational effects of ice on the water, the largest rise in sea-level is not in the high-latitudes but thousands of kilometres away from the source, in the mid-latitudes. Therefore, in order to observe the fingerprint, records must be taken from “far-field” sites. Due to its tectonic stability, Australia is an ideal region to look for this fingerprint. Sediment cores and the microfossils within them will be analysed in order to reconstruct sea-level changes on the southeast coast of Australia and this sea-level curve will then be compared to historical models of ice melt in the Northern Hemisphere in order to determine whether the melt during the early half of the 20th century was responsible for this rise. This will help to constrain the effect of natural and anthropogenic forcing on sea-level change.


BSc Physical Geography, 1st class Hons; University of Leeds, 2013-2016
MSc Palaeobiology, Grade Pending; University of Bristol, 2016-2017
PhD Environmental Geography; University of York, 2017-2021

Skills and relevant qualifications

ArcGIS, R, Minitab, PAST, CorelDraw, Inkskape, HTML, ChemDraw, ImageJ.

Work experience

Sales assistant NEXT, Bristol Cabot Circus, 2016-2017. STEM Ambassador University of Bristol, 2016-2017. Temporary Waitress, Filey, UK, August 2016. Volunteer Scarborough Museums Trust, Scarborough, May 2016-August 2017. Green Impact Auditor, University of Leeds, 2014-2015. Johnson Controls Residential Volunteer July 2014-August 2014. Counter Assistant Cooplands LTD, Scarborough, 2012-2015. Counter Assistant, Milos Cafe, Scarborough 2010-2012.