University presents new research on climate change

This finding provides an insight into future climate change modelling.

Photo: David Evans

Dr. David Evans, a research fellow at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews, recently presented research suggesting that surface temperatures during the Eocene epoch, which was between 56 and 34 million years ago, were significantly warmer than today.

This finding provides an insight into future climate change modelling.

By looking at the chemistry of micro-fossils preserved in the Eocene sediments, the team was able to determine that polar amplification during the Eocene interval was more pronounced than previously thought.

Polar amplification is the phenomenon of the Polar Regions warming to a greater degree than the tropics.

The research team also investigated polar ocean warmth during the same interval and found that the warming was even more pronounced – at least double that of the tropical oceans.

Reconstructing the degree of warming during periods of elevated CO2 tests our understanding of the Earth system and the accuracy of climate models.

Dr. Evans is the lead researcher of a team of international scientists researching climate change researchers from the University of St Andrews and Yale University, and their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Evans commented on the research-ing saying, “When we compare our results to climate model simulations of the Eocene epoch, we find that nearly all are unable to match these observations.”

“In particular, the models underestimate the degree of polar amplification, which has possible implications for the accuracy of future climate predictions.”

He continued, “This does not imply that climate models overestimate global warming. If anything, the opposite, they could be underestimating how much warming will occur in the Polar Regions.”

This research provides insight into the future of climate change and intensifies the risks associated with our current rate of global warming.

Actions that can be taken by St Andrews students to help mitigate the impacts of global warming include turning lights off, unplugging unused items, using recycling bins, and riding bikes instead of driving in cars.

Though easy to adopt, together they all have a significant impact on our environment if a large portion of the community takes part.

Dr. David Evans received his MSc and Ph.D. from the Royal Holloway University of London and, since then, has been a postdoctoral associate at Yale University.

As a research fellow at the University of St Andrews School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, he is currently focusing his efforts on a project regarding coral and inorganic carbonate geochemistry and interpretations of our proxy systems.

“Characterising and understanding the role of these is of fundamental importance to predicting the future impact of climate change on the health of marine calcifiers,” Dr. Evans said.

He continued, “[This] may improve our ability to accurately extract environmental reconstructions from the geochemistry of fossil material.”



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