Module Identifier GG21110  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Henry F Lamb  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Geoff Duller, Dr Sarah J Davies  
Course delivery Lecture   22 Hours 11 x 2 hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials    
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Two essay questions to be answered from four set.75%
Semester Assessment In-Course Assessment: 1 x 1 hour mid-term short-answer test.25%
Supplementary Assessment2 Hours Examination only. 

Learning outcomes

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


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


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.

Reading Lists

Bradley, R.S. (1999) Quaternary Paleoclimatology: methods of paleoclimatic 2nd. Academic Press
Mannion A M (1999) Natural Environmental Change Routledge

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


This module is at CQFW Level 5