Synopsis

Wildfires play an important role in the terrestrial carbon cycle, as well as the functioning of local ecosystems. Using several peat sediment sequences from across the Falkland Islands (a small archipelago near the Antarctic Peninsula), the project will investigate the temporal and spatial distribution of wildfire over the last 15,000 years. You will use a range of techniques including charcoal analysis and radiocarbon dating; to determine whether charcoal horizons within a sediment core are representative of one large fire event or several separate smaller ones. Since no trees grow on the Falkland Islands, there is little in-built age for charcoal fragments, making the project unique in its ability to answer these questions. You will learn each step of the radiocarbon process, including sampling, pretreating and graphitisation in our state-of-the-art laboratory [interactive tour].

Aims

Produce a reconstruction of the fire history of the Falkland Islands over the last 10,000 years and determine what climate drivers may be responsible for these changes.

Student Benefits

Through this project, you will learn how to design and carry out experiments, analyse and interpret data, and how to write a scientific paper. You will also be integrated within the Chronos 14Carbon-Cycle Facility as well as the Changing Earth Research Centre (formerly PANGEA), with opportunities for training and career development.

Supervisors: Dr Zoë Thomas, Dr Haidee Cadd and Dr Lorena Becerra Valdivia