Zoë Thomas BA (Hons.) (Oxon.)

Department: Geography
Research Centre/Unit: Environmental Processes and Change Research Group

Project Summary

Palaeoresearch has shown that the Earth’s climate has undergone many abrupt, non-linear transitions in the past. These so-called ‘tipping points’ are notoriously difficult to predict, particularly in systems as complex as the Earth’s climate. However, a number of generic indicators have been shown to precede tipping points in both natural and social systems. My PhD project aims to demonstrate that early warning signals of impending tipping points can be detected using time-series analysis, in particular through the identification of increased autocorrelation and increased variance. This technique can be applied to both modelled data and palaeoclimate data. My research will initially focus on the Late Glacial - Early Holocene period, looking at ice, marine, terrestrial records from North West Europe, as well as terrestrial records from Australasia. The ability to detect these early warning signals has clear implications for the interpretation of palaeoenvironmental datasets and model runs as well as future predictions.

Supervisory Team

Dr Richard Jones

Professor Peter Cox

Professor Chris Turney

Wider Research Interests

As well as my main research area of palaeoclimate, I am also interested in contemporary climate change. I recently attended the 'Big Dilemmas' symposium, devised by the Climate Change and Sustainable Futures Group at the University of Exeter, which looks at the current issues surrounding contemporary climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective.