How climate change caused the world’s first ever empire to collapse

Gol-e-Zard Cave lies in the shadow of Mount Damavand, which at more than 5,000 metres dominates the landscape of northern Iran. In this cave, stalagmites and stalactites are growing slowly over millennia and preserve in them clues about past climate events. Changes in stalagmite chemistry from this cave have now linked the collapse of the Akkadian Empire to climate changes more than 4,000 years ago.

Akkadia was the world’s first empire. It was established in Mesopotamia around 4,300 years ago after its ruler, Sargon of Akkad, united a series of independent city states. Akkadian influence spanned along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from what is now southern Iraq, through to Syria and Turkey. The north-south extent of the empire meant that it covered regions with different climates, ranging from fertile lands in the north which were highly dependent on rainfall (one of Asia’s “bread baskets”), to the irrigation-fed alluvial plains to the south. Read more.

PhD Studentships Available

A series of fully-funded PhD studentships in our group are available.

University-funded PHD Studentships

Carbon drawdown on debris-covered glaciers

From Greenhouse to Icehouse: Past changes in southern hemisphere vegetation and the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet

Modelling ice shelf collapse in Antarctica

Quantifying and modelling annual variability in the flow of Greenland and the Antarctic Ice Sheets and assessing global impacts

Sediment flux in and around the Sør Rondans Mountains in East Antarctica

Tides as a natural experiment to learn about ice stream flow: modelling the “stick-slip” motion of Whillans Ice Stream, Antarctica

Understanding how Antarctic Ice Sheets control the climate of Antarctica

one pLanet nerc doctoral training pARTNERSHIP

Arctic Weather Forecasting

How are large permafrost rock faces responding to climate change?

Glaciers and ice sheets: pressurized nutrient bioreactors for the oceans

If a slope in Antarctica falls down does it matter?

Ice Sheet Influences on Tropical Climate

Monitoring and modelling the drivers and responses of permafrost coastal erosion

From Greenhouse to Icehouse: Past changes in southern hemisphere vegetation and the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet

Greenhouse Gas Cycling in Supraglacial Debris Covers

Using ocean tides as a natural experiment to learn about ice sheet

Mulit-sensor fusion for Ice-Mass studies over Greenland

Simulating evolving snow proceses in the changing climate

Determining the impact of seasonal meltwater on the subglacial hydrology

Comparing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions of Restored and Natural Mangrove Forests in Indonesia using Palynology and plant DNA metabarcoding

From Greenhouse to Icehouse: Past changes in southern hemisphere vegetation and the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet

Coastal geohazard analyses and decision making tools for asset management

Terrestrial climate reconstructions in Central Europe during past interglacials

Oligocene to Miocene vegetation and climate dynamics on the edge of Europe

Better projections of ocean-driven ice loss from Antarctica

Funded PhD Studentship: Impact of Arctic snow on soil and sea ice

We are currently advertising a funded three year PhD studentship in “Impact of Arctic snow on soil and sea ice”.

Project description:
The thermal properties of Arctic snow play a vital role in mediating energy exchanges between the atmosphere and tundra soils or sea ice. Thick snowpacks with low thermal conductivity will insulate the substrate during cold winters leading to warmer soils and thinner sea ice. Thin snowpacks with high thermal conductivity have the opposite effect.

Permafrost active layer dynamics as well as sea ice formation and duration are therefore strongly controlled by the mass and properties of overlying seasonal snow. However, our understanding of spatial variability in snow properties and snow mass is poorly constrained in Arctic environments, principally as we are strongly limited by current remote sensing capabilities and accurate retrieval of snow mass. This project will allow you to explore ways of removing these limitations through measurements and modelling for future development in snow remote sensing:

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