Rapid sea-level rise and climate change: lessons from the early Holocene

Graham Rush

Email: gpr504@york.ac.uk

Start Year: 2016, Cohort 3

Host University: The University of York

Department: Department of Environment

Supervisors:  Roland Gehrels, University of York; Mark Bateman and Grant Bigg, University of Sheffield.

Twitter: @goatyrush 

Academic profile


BSc in Geography, 1st Class Hons, University of Gloucestershire, 2013-2015; MSc in Applied Ecology, University of Gloucestershire, 2015-2016

Skills and relevant qualifications:

Working in a GIS; Salt marshes as a sea-level proxy

Work experience: 

Halley Research Station, Antarctica, Station technician. British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, Creating field maps from satellite imagery.


ACCE PhD Research Topic

Rapid sea-level rise: lessons from the Holocene

The ‘8.2 event’ is recognised as the largest magnitude Holocene cooling event in the North Atlantic region occurring c. 8200 years ago. Freshwater input from the retreating Laurentide Ice Sheet drove a slowdown of the Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning circulation and hence caused the observed climatic shift. A 160 year period of temperature cooling of 3.3 ± 1.1 °C and reduced precipitation is observed in Greenland with climate shifts contemporaneously recognised in many other records around the North Atlantic region and further afield. Identifying the freshwater source/s and quantifying their input is of great interest and allows climate models to be tested and applied to contemporary scenarios of climate warming and ice melt with greater confidence. My research aims to reconstruct relative sea-level changes at a number of carefully selected sites in the UK and Falkland Islands and subsequently test the accuracy of a climate model. Applying palaeoecological proxies of sea level, such as foraminiferal and diatom taxa that have particular environmental niches, alongside radiocarbon and luminescence dating techniques will enable the magnitude of rising to be quantified at a high resolution and therefore quantify the freshwater release that caused the 8.2 event. The quantified drainage events will be used as inputs to test the climate model against the recognised and well resolved 8.2 event. The results will allow us to improve understanding of the impacts of Arctic ice melt and freshwater discharge on oceanic changes and model these with greater confidence.