School Seminar - Dr Jamie Wilson - School of Geographical Sciences - New approaches linking biotic responses to climatic events: Plankton ecosystem modelling in the Eocene and Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum

16 January 2018, 1.00 PM - 16 January 2018, 2.00 PM

Dr Jamie Wilson, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

Room G25, Reynolds Lecture Theatre, School of Earth Sciences, Wills Memorial Building

We are pleased to welcome Dr Jamie Wilson from the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, who will be delivering the School Seminar:-

Title: New approaches linking biotic responses to climatic events: Plankton ecosystem modelling in the Eocene and Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum


Carbon uptake in the surface ocean by phytoplankton and its export to the deep ocean and sediments, a process known as the biological pump, is a key component of the carbon cycle. In the modern ocean both the total carbon export and the efficiency of its sequestration are strongly coupled to the structure of the overlying plankton community. Different environmental conditions and ecological interactions in past climates, such as the warm Eocene, may have led to different plankton communities and therefore differences in the way in which the carbon cycle functioned. In this talk I will describe results from a new trait- based model of plankton communities in the Earth System Model of Intermediate Complexity, cGENIE: a new tool which can be used to explore interactions between plankton, ocean biogeochemistry and climate over long timescales. The ecological model explicitly resolves plankton populations with traits, such as growth and grazing rates, assigned according to organism size and functional group. We run a set of exploratory experiments to predict the size-structure of plankton communities for the background warm climate of the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum. We explore the sensitivity of this prediction to temperature and changes in nutrient cycling driven by both circulation and biogeochemical feedbacks. We also explore the model prediction of plankton communities to a carbon cycle perturbation using a Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum simulation. Finally, we discuss how these results fit with microfossil datasets and how this modeling framework presents a first step towards mechanistically representing plankton ecosystems and their interaction with climate. 

All staff and students welcome.

Contact information

For further information please contact Dr Elaine Mawbey.

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