The deep ocean is closer than you think: scientific research and life at sea

Nick Reynard is a postdoc in the Centre for Climate Repair in Cambridge, working with Ali Mashayek’s research group at the Department of Earth Sciences. Here, Nick recounts his experience of boarding a five-week scientific cruise in search of the deep Antarctic waters that rise in the Madagascar Basin.

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An update on WACSWAIN: WArm Climate Stability of the West Antarctic during the last INterglacial

This joint project between the Department of Earth Sciences and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) aims to constrain estimates of if, how and when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) retreated during the Last Interglacial (LIG), 130 to 115 thousand years ago.

Evidence suggests that sea level during the LIG peaked at between 6 and 9 metres higher than present, a range which necessitates at least some contribution from Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat, the WAIS being the most likely candidate. Antarctic temperatures during this time period were in line with projections for the year 2100. These figures warn of the potential for significant future sea level rise resulting from anthropogenic climate change.

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Forgotten fossils: how museum collections can be a treasure trove

Palaeontology isn’t all about adventuring into the desert to dig up rocks. Sometimes, the palaeontologists of the past managed to find so many fossil bones, they didn’t know what to do with them. These bones can lie forgotten in museum collection drawers for decades, until a PhD student comes along to study them.

Fortunately for me, some of the most commonly overlooked fossils are fragmentary, isolated bones belonging to tiny animals. As a palaeontologist who works on passerine birds, which are generally tiny (think robins and blue tits), I was very excited to go on my first museum trip to look at bird fossils. In December 2022, I visited several museums in southern Germany to poke through all the drawers that might contain some mystery bird bones.

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Cambridge at the Goldschmidt 2022 Conference

Alasdair Knight,  a second year PhD student in the Department of Earth Sciences, reports back from the 2022 Goldschmidt conference in the blog post below.

Alasdair can normally be found researching the chemical reactions that occur between greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere and the rocks at Earth’s surface. These reactions are thought to have been important for keeping Earth within the correct temperature range for life to exist. 

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Birds of a feather: Katrina van Grouw on art and science

It was an emotional journey. Nose pressed to the small oval of glass as London City Airport was left far below, I smiled wistfully down at the River Thames, golden in the rising sun’s first rays, as it made its final sweeping arc to meet the sea. The cut-out shapes of the Kent marshes, and the Isle of Sheppey beyond; home to a plethora of birdlife now as ever, is a place of special significance for me. Not only was it the intended destination of my first ever birdwatching trip, aged nine, but from this same London Clay Formation laid down in the Eocene, over 50 million years ago, came the first fossilised skull of a very remarkable bird. With jaws lined with bony projections of different sizes, like lobster claws, it was unlike any bird known.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022

To mark International Women’s Day (8 March), we reflect on and celebrate the role of women within our organization.

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on achievements and progress made, recognize challenges and focus greater attention on women’s rights and achieving equal opportunity status in all walks of life.

We look back over a year of research news and blog posts from women in our Department; from graduate students to lecturers and staff at the Sedgwick Museum. Through their stories, and in their own words, we hope to reveal the breadth of research and educational activities that women undertake across our organization.

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