UCL Earth Sciences

Dr Katy Wilson

Dr Katy Wilson




Research Associate 228A Pearson

Courses Taught: 

Non-Teaching Appointment

Research Group(s):


Email Address:

Telephone Number: 

k.e.wilson@ucl.ac.uk 020 7679 3740 (33740)

As a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimatology within the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London. My main research interests concern the use of isotopic and geochemical proxies as indicators of past climate changes in order to understand the interplay of atmospheric and oceanic processes in driving and amplifying environmental change. 

I employ a variety of techniques to study the ways in which the Earth's climate has changed in the past by examining fluctuations in the geochemical composition of different proxies (diatoms, foraminifera, bulk sediment) preserved in marine or lacustrine sedimentary archives. I am currently working on a 3-year NERC-funded project to investigate the potential role played by the North Pacific Ocean in the storage and release of carbon to the atmosphere during the last deglaciation. Please refer to my website for further details.

Research Summary:

Evidence from Antarctic ice cores documents a persistent 80-100 ppm oscillation in atmospheric CO2 betwen glacial and interglacial periods over the last 800,000 years. Climate models currently have difficulty in accurately simulating this oscillation, suggesting that there may be fundamental gaps in our understanding of forcings and feedbacks within the Earth's carbon cycle. Given that the oceanic carbon reservoir is the largest global source of exchangeable carbon, it is likely that some change in the physical, chemical and/or biological processes within the ocean was responsible for driving the recorded oscillations in CO2. At present, the North Pacific is a source of atmospheric CO2, despite the ocean being a net sink of carbon dioxide. It is therefore essential to future climate projections to understand the role of the North Pacific in the glacial storage and interglacial release of carbon to the atmosphere.

Funded by the NERC and together with collaborators from the University of South Florida, University of Washington, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Michigan and the University of Nottingham, we are currently undertaking a 3-year, multi-proxy (foraminiferal stable isotopes, radiocarbon, diatom δ30Si, redox trace metals in marine sediments) depth transect study of five marine sediment cores from the NE Pacific continental margin within the subpolar-subtropical transition zone in order to determine the ventilation history of the subarctic NE Pacific water column over the last deglaciation (~ 10-20 Ka) and the role of nutrients in driving changes in the glacial-interglacial productivity signal

We hope that this research will provide a means of assessing the effects of changing ocean circulation, nutrient availability/utilisation and marine biological productivity on atmospheric CO2 and enable a better understanding of the role of the North Pacific in regulating atmospheric CO2 during major climatic transitions.

Related Links: 

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Research Publications

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