Module Identifier GG21110  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr Henry Lamb  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Geoff Duller  
Course delivery Lecture   22 Hours 11 x 2 hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials    
Assessment In-course assessment   1 x 1 hour mid-term short-answer test.   25%  
  Exam   2 Hours Two essay questions to be answered from four set.   75%  
  Resit assessment   2 Hours Examination only.    

Module Outline (Lecture Themes)

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
Quaternary sea-level records.

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:
Tree rings: dendroclimatology
Pollen analysis: principles, methods, and data presentation.
Interpreting past vegetation and climate from pollen data

Module Aims

This module aims to give students an understanding of the timescales of climatic and environmental change during the last two million years. It explains and illustrates the collection, analysis and interpretation of physical and biological data from Quaternary oceanic and continental sediments, and shows how these data can be used to determine the causes of past and future global change. The module provides a background for understanding long-term processes in many subject areas, including climatology, oceanography, hydrology, geomorphology, glaciology, and biogeography.

Module objectives / Learning outcomes

1. To provide students with a critical view of the methods used to obtain Quaternary palaeoenvironmental data.

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.

4. To introduce students to current literature in the field of Quaternary research.

On completion of this module students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of :-

Reading Lists

Andersen, B.B. and Borns, H.W.. (1994) The Ice-Age World. Scandinavian Press
Bell, M. and Walker, M.J.C.. (1992) Late Quaternary Environmental Change - Physical and Human Perspectives. Longman
Birks, H.J.B. & H.H. Birks. (1980) Quaternary Palaeoecology. Arnold
Bradley, R.S.. (1999) Quaternary Paleoclimatology: methods of paleoclimatic. 2nd. Academic Press
Mannion A M. (1999) Natural Environmental Change. Routledge