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Mark Turner – University of Reading

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Mark Turner

Rapid climate change in the last glacial period: the evidence from pollen records.

Global warming is upon us, but our understanding of how the climate system works during changes as rapid as those predicted is limited, because we have no parallels during the limited time for which we have instrumental records. During the last glacial period, from about 123 ka to 11 ka, ice cores from Greenland show that there were more than twenty occasions when temperatures rose rapidly by as much as 16 °C in a few years, before sinking back over centuries. These Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles were not just local, but show up as far away as China and South America, and betoken global-scale changes in climate. They are the best documented rapid climate changes we know of. Using pollen records from lake cores in Southern Europe I want to provide and understand well-dated quantitative reconstructions of these changes, as potential tests of climate models used to predict the future.


About Me:

I took a First in Literae Humaniores at New College, Oxford in 1976, and won the (University-wide) Second Craven Prize (MA). I was Captain of Boats, and I still row. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (FCA),and spent my working life in commerce.

In 2017 I took a First in Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences) at The Open University (BSc), winning the Eric Tomney Prize in Planetary Science. My dissertation was on the causes of Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles (still highly debatable).

Although my work now is about data, I maintain contact with geology by field trips, mapping courses, and events run by Oxford Geology Group and the Open University Geological Society.

I presented at the Pint of Science last year on the Origins of the Earth, and will on Earth's climate over geological time.

Research Interests:

  • Pleistocene climates.
  • Climate reconstruction.

Research Groups:


Environmental Science Research Division

  Mark Turner



Professor Sandy Harrison (University of Reading)

Dr Alison MacLeod (University of Reading)

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