This year's online conference comprised 26 inspiring presentations, 60 participants from 20 countries, and many new scientific ideas as well as exciting proposals for new activities. Extreme environments was a key topic in this year's meeting with several contributions such as modeling photosynthesis in arctic forests, the evolution of plant diversity changes on the Tibetan Plateau, and my own work on data-model comparison and the problem of the warm Pliocene Arctic,
A number of presentations dealt with the question of Paleogene climate, plant diversity and vegetation patterns, and especially the role of the Indian subcontinent on plant biogeography. This was accompanied by contributions, which shed light on the marine signal from the Indian Ocean with significance for understanding Asian monsoon history. Research on Neogene and Quaternary vegetation and climate reconstructions was extremely broad, with a range of methods such as pollen and NPPs, paleocarpology, and techniques of
ecological niche modelling, and even modelling of mammal dispersal across sea straits.
Thank you so much to the conference organisers: Angela Bruch, Torsten Utescher, Marianna Kováčová and Martina Stebich, who put so much effort into making this online experience run smoothly.
NECLIME annual meeting 2023 will be held in Matsudo, Chiba, Japan from August 30th to September 6th 2023, cosponsored by the Graduate School of Horticulture, Chiba University
This week, at The Old Courthouse in Otley, I have the pleasure of sharing my research with two other wonderful women scientists.
Why do we gain weight? – It’s all in your brain!
Dr Gisela Helfer, School of Chemistry and Biosciences, University of Bradford
No one wants to overeat, yet many of us are fighting a never-ending battle with our hormones and ancient, instinctive brain circuits to try to control our body weight – often unsuccessful. Join me on a journey through cutting-edge neuroscience research to explore why it is so difficult for many of us to lose weight, how the brain undermines our dieting efforts and why some people are hungrier than others.
The buzz about Bees
Dr Liz Duncan, School of Biology, University of Leeds
“Save the bees!” is a familiar phrase – but which bees? Liz will talk about her research on honeybees (and other bees), some of the threats to bees and what we can do to help.
Cloudy with a chance it rained
Dr Tamara Fletcher, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Clouds are the greatest source of uncertainty in climate models. To test how climate models perform in future-like climates we test them on geologic warm periods, however, there is currently no way to reconstruct cloud in the distant past. Are our models getting cloud right? In this talk, I will take you through some of the ways we are trying to reconstruct that icon of the ephemeral, cloud, 4 million years in the past.
Tickets for the Café are £6, but free for under 18s, starting at 7:30 pm.
This week, over 100 scientists came together at Weetwood Hall here in Leeds to talk recent advancements and discoveries, but also to foster cross disciplinary engagement and greater collaboration between the palaeoclimate modelling, marine and terrestrial palaeodata communities.
The invited speaker's s highlighted the major trends and discoveries from PlioMIP (Alan Haywood), the massive community compilation effort that has driven the PAGES working group PlioVar to a new marine synthesis of global marine palaeoclimate records for the Late Pliocene (Erin McClymont) and historical perspectives on sea surface temperature data-model comparisons (Harry Dowsett). We also had sessions on global reconstructions of hydroclimate and ice processes, regional reconstructions, ocean circulation and carbon dynamics.
I had the opportunity to present the initial results of my cloud reconstruction research. This opened some great discussions about what might be possible, especially from colleagues with very different expertise from my own. Could we use the leaf pigments to study past coud?
How to cite: Fletcher, T., Tindall, J., and Haywood, A.: Palaeocloud for the Pliocene, The warm Pliocene: Bridging the geological data and modelling communities, Leeds, United Kingdom, 23–26 Aug 2022, GC10-Pliocene-59, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-gc10-pliocene-59, 2022.
The meeting was sponsored by EGU, NERC UK Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme and PAGES. Thank you to the sponsors who made this meeting possible. Thank you also to the organising committee:
Dr Aisling Dolan (Co-Lead; University of Leeds )
Dr Heather Ford (Co-Lead; Queen Mary University of London )
Prof Alan Haywood (University of Leeds)
Prof Erin McClymont (Durham University)
Dr Babette Hoogakker (Herriot-Watt University)
Dr Sze Ling Ho (National Taiwan University)
Dr Bette Otto-Bliesner (NCAR)
Dr Wing-Le Chan (University of Tokyo)
Lauren Burton (PhD Candidate, University of Leeds)
Lina C. Pérez-Angel (PhD Candidate, University of Colorado Boulder)
Left to right: Incandescent (back up chamber); full sun (direct light), cloud (20% of sun and dispersed), and canopy shade (20% of sun, dispersed and shifted green).
The chambers are finally ready to grow.
The lights are finally on in the Palaeolab! These custom build light fixtures, using Seoul Sunlike LEDs, will have filters added before going into the growth tents to mimic full sun, cloud and canopy shade light conditions for my plant growth experiments.
Thanks to the team up in Engineering for finishing the wiring and testing these for safety.
Its definitely taken longer than expected to get in the components needed to build my plant growth chambers down in the PalaeoLab at Leeds. COVID continues to bring shortages in the most unexpected places, but it is coming along!
The 5th workshop of the NECLIME working group on climate was once again online. This year it was organized by Andrea Kern and Thomas Kenji Akabane. The workshop had 37 participants including many young scientists - a potential benefit of the online format serving those without travel funds. The main purpose of the workshop was to discuss the potential and limitations of new methods for paleoclimate reconstructions for Quaternary and Neogene datasets on a global scale. A special focus of the meeting was new method that use probability density functions to detemine climate. Comparisons were made with the Coexistence Approach and non-plant proxy data . A second scientific focus lay on the impact on CO2 on plant-based palaeoclimate reconstructions and how this can be accessed through time.
I contributed to the discussions with a synthesis and extension of the climate work conducted at Beaver Pond, on Ellesmere Island, over the last couple of decades. At this site, out many lines of evidence allow comparison of climate reconstructions based on wood isotopes, mollusck isotpes, beetle communities, macrofossil plant communities (both PDF and envelope methods), pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs, diatoms, and geochemical methods using bacterial membrane lipids.
Fletcher, T. 2022. A Beaver Pond frozen in time: Multi-proxy analysis in the Pliocene High Arctic. NECLIME workshop on climate. 21st–22nd February.
A detailed report is available here and on the on the NECLIME website including preliminary considerations on the use of CRACLE and CREST for paleoclimate reconstructions, references, and links to useful R packages.
I am excited to have found out today I have been granted an Alan Turing Postdoctoral Enrichment Award. These funds will go towards developing and testing an automated method for identifying stomata and epidermal cells in microscope images of leaves, facilitating fast data collection of cell morphometrics. My aim is to identify multi-character changes in the micromorphology of leaves in response to changes in light that mimic cloud, sun and shade.
One of the special features of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship is the focus on training, and making sure you have the skills to move your career in your desired direction. For me, that focus has largely been on skills that directly relate to my research, but there are many other skills researchers need to progress in their careers.
Today I have been attending a course by Susan Chritton, hosted by the OD&PL (Organisational Development and Professional Learning) on personal branding. The importance of really thinking about who you are, what are your values and strengths to build an authentic brand, was reflected in almost half the session focusing on those aspects. Other take-aways include considering your emotional attributes and which ones you want to highlight and bring to your personal brand and thinking about the content by asking whether your readers will say 'this is someone I want to work with'.
After a couple of week of on boarding admin and finishing off a big manuscript that has been in the pipeline some 30 years (I'll post a bit on that project soon!), this week is all about getting to know my new team, both at Leeds and in PlioMIP (Pliocene Modelling Intercomparison Project).
This afternoon is the first of two I will have the pleasure of spending getting to know about the other work of ERCs in the PlioMIP. There are some familiar names, with Ran Feng presenting on past terrestrial hydroclimate driven by Earth System Feedbacks and Dan Lunt talking about GMST and polar amplification in the PlioMIP ensemble - results from IPCC, and some new colleagues such as
Julia Tindall, presenting on comparing the PlioMIP2 ensemble to Pliocene proxy data: how good are the models?
One of the interesting questions we need to address in proxy-model mismatch for Arctic amplification of temperature is how to tell if our proxies are bias or if our models are missing or mischaracterising processes in the climate. In palaeoclimate, best practice is to apply multiple proxies, each with different underlying basis for the relationship to the climate variable of interest, e.g. delta18O of tooth enamel and leaf physiognomy at the same locality to estimate mean annual temperatures. In general, if these agree, and don't contravene the Whitlock Principal of Least Astonishment, we have good confidence in our estimates. And yet all the training data for all our models is based on the modern world - what if our bias comes from the current climate space for which the Pliocene (and future) is not analogous, could this lead to all proxy-schemes being bias in the same way? If a climate variable currently covaries with the 'important' climate variable that is driving the relationship, but is not itself tightly bound to our proxy, this may be true.
A big of all Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships is training. For me, that training will be in brushing off and extending my skills in statistical modelling. This will be key to thinking about the mechanics of how our currently proxies work and their potential pitfalls - as well as generating a new proxy for cloud. I am looking forward to getting deep into it in the coming weeks.
Clouds cause the greatest uncertainty in climate models, but we currently have no way of testing cloud model performance in a climate with higher CO2 than the historical records. Palaeontology gives us access to such a past, but currently, we don't have a method to reconstruct cloud in deep time.