Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Reading the Ice Age Record
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Two essay questions to be answered from four set.  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   As above.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  1. Describe the principal methods used to obtain Quaternary palaeoenvironmental data and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Interpret a range of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data
  3. Describe the record of climate change that the Earth has undergone in the last two million years, with particular emphasis on the last 130,000 years, and explain how this record is obtained from different palaeoclimatic proxy records

Brief description

  1. To provide students with a critical view of the methods used to obtain Quaternary palaeoenvironmental.
  2. To equip students to interpret a range of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data.
  3. To enable students to realise the importance of past records in relation to contemporary issues such as global warming.



The role of Quaternary palaeoclimatic data in understanding climatic change.

The chronological framework:

Terminology and timescales.

Palaeomagnetism. Potassium-argon dating.

Radiocarbon dating; calibrating the radiocarbon timescale.

Evidence from the oceans:

Oxygen isotopes, microfossil assemblages and terrigenous input.

Evidence from the continents:

Lakes and lake sediments

Diatom records of surface water acidification.

Peat stratigraphy.

Ice core records of climatic change:

Stable isotopes; dissolved and particulate matter; gas bubble contents.

European and Chinese loess sequences.

Biological evidence:

Pollen analysis: principles, methods, and data presentation.

Interpreting past vegetation and climate from pollen data

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Students will write two essays, developing skills in writing fluently
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will undertake 80 hours of reading and revision around the material presented in lectures. A considerable degree of self discipline and time management will be required by students to maintain this reading around the lecture topics. Evidence for this engagement with the literature will be sought through the essay examination
Problem solving By developing a knowledge of appropriate methods to collect palaeoenvironmental and chronological data
Research skills Students will undertake reading around the lecture topics, developing their use of academic databases such as Web of Knowledge to identify appropriate academic papers

Reading List

General Text
Bell, M. and Walker, M.J.C. (2003) Late Quaternary Environmental Change - Physical and Human Perspectives Prentice Hall Primo search Birks, H.J.B. & H.H. Birks (1980) Quaternary Palaeoecology Arnold Primo search Bradley, R.S. (1999) Paleoclimatology: reconstructing climates of the Quaternary 2nd Academic Press Primo search Mannion A M (1999) Natural Environmental Change Routledge Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5