ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS
Nutrient cycling within high latitude environments during past climate transitions
The Arctic Ocean is currently one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world. Among the most striking effects of this warming is a drastic reduction in sea ice, with some models predicting a seasonally ice free Arctic Ocean by 2050. These changes occurring within the Arctic Ocean will have complex effects on nutrient availability and, subsequently, primary productivity. However, different model scenarios for the biogeochemical response to anthropogenic climate change within the Arctic Ocean predict either elevated or reduced nutrient supplies, illustrating the need for improved constraints on how nutrient delivery and benthic remineralization will evolve under warmer conditions. The sedimentary record provides an opportunity to reconstruct biogeochemical cycles during past intervals of sea ice minima to help predict what may occur in the future. Using sediment cores from north of Svalbard, I am reconstructing past changes in micro- (Fe) and macro- (phosphorus (P), nitrogen, and silica) nutrient delivery and recycling in response to climatic and oceanographic perturbations.
Material for this work was taken on the Transitions in the Seasonal Sea Ice Zone cruise (TRANSSIZ) in 2015. TRANSSIZ was initiated by the Arctic in Rapid Transition Early Career Research Network (https://www.arcticinrapidtransition.com).
Modern Arctic Ocean benthic biogeochemistry
At the University of Leeds, I am investigating modern nutrient, trace metal, and carbon sedimentary fluxes north of Svalbard by using paired sediment and pore water samples. These results will improve our understanding of nutrient recycling from the sediments to the overlying water column, as well as how environmental signals are preserved within the sedimentary record. This work will be expanded over the next three years through the National Environmental Research Council (NERC)-funded Changing Arctic Ocean Seafloor (ChAOS) project.
Photo credit: Mark Zindorf
Mechanisms of enhanced organic carbon burial during the Late Cretaceous
The Late Cretaceous was characterized by elevated pCO2 and an equable, warm climate, making it among the best examples of a greenhouse climate within the last 100 Ma of geologic history. During this time, a vast epicontinental seaway flooded the western interior of North America that extended from the Gulf Coast to the Arctic Ocean. The resulting sedimentary record of the Western Interior Seaway (WIS) includes episodic deposition of organic carbon-rich black shales, including during a series of Oceanic Anoxic Events (OAEs). Multiple processes control marine black shale deposition during OAEs, including changes in primary productivity, organic matter preservation, and sedimentary dilution. Much of my recent work has centered on sediments deposited within the WIS during a prolonged organic carbon burial event that has been identified as the Coniacian-Santonian OAE 3 (~88−84 Ma) to evaluate the relative roles of these forcing factors on marine carbon burial.