This project will provide a high-resolution record of climatic and environmental change for the southern hemisphere region of Patagonia in the vicinity of the North Patagonian Icefield (~47°S). Our current understanding of southern hemisphere ocean-atmosphere changes in the Late Quaternary is largely derived from reconstructions of the glacier fluctuations during the Late Glaciation/Holocene transition (McCulloch et al., 2005) but this provides a limited view of the changing environment faced by the first hunter-gathers in the region.
To reconstruct the Late Glacial and Holocene environments this project will produce high-resolution (sub-centennial) records of vegetation change using pollen analysis (Palynology) from lake and peat site. These records will be reinforced through lithostatigraphic analyses (organic content, peat humification and geochemistry) and constrain in time using radiocarbon dating (supported by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre) and tephrochronology (dating using volcanic ash layers)(supported by the NERC tephra unit, University of Edinburgh).
The resulting palaeoecological records will be able to explore the following themes:
-The timing and rate of vegetation migration and colonisation of deglaciated terrain during the Late Glacial/Holocene transition and identify potential woodland refugia;
-The timing and extent of human activity in Central Patagonia and/or the climatic signal from increased fire frequency in the pollen records;
-The timing and nature of the warming that marks the onset of the Holocene conditions and the evolution of the resource base for early humans;
-The response of Mid-Late Holocene vegetation patterns to neo-glacial climatic events
Present: PhD “Palaeoecological reconstruction of rapid Late Glacial – Holocene environmental change for Central Patagonia, southern South America” Supervisors: Dr Robert McCulloch Dr Eileen Tisdall
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