How hot was the Jurassic Greenhouse climate?


How hot was the Jurassic Greenhouse climate?


Project Description


Prof. Gregory Price (University of Plymouth, School of Geography, Earth and Earth Sciences) – Contact me

Dr Rhodri Jerrett, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester

Prof. Paul Dennis, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Dr Alina D. Marca, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia


Project background

Examination of warm intervals in Earth’s history help develop insight into the behavior of the climate system under elevated carbon dioxide and temperature. One such interval is the Jurassic which sees atmospheric CO2 concentrations close to current concentrations of ∼400 ppm or higher. A significant feature of this warmer world was the presence of large epicontinental seaways such as the Middle-Late Jurassic Sundance Sea of North America (e.g. Danise et al. 2020). At its greatest extent the Sundance Sea stretched from Utah to the Arctic Ocean. These large epicontinental seaways are the dominant source for much of our information about ancient marine climates and biodiversity. There is, however, growing evidence that these seaways are often decoupled from open-ocean conditions because of variations in water mass, depth, salinity, and stratification and being a loci of anoxia. Hence, understanding these systems is critical to reconstruct the role epicontinental seaways play in terms of ocean circulation, carbon cycling, and climate amelioration.

Research methodology

This research will investigate key sites within the Sundance Sea, in the USA and Canada. Using stable isotopes and clumped isotopes biogenic carbonate samples derived from fieldwork, will be analysed to reconstruct temperature and carbon cycling at unprecedented spatial resolution. The carbonate clumped isotope thermometer is a valuable tool for reconstructing temperatures in epicontinental settings due to its independence from the isotopic composition of the water from which a carbonate precipitates (Price et al. 2019; Vickers et al. 2019; Bajnai et al. 2020; Paxton et al. 2020). Analytical techniques will be used to evaluate the geochemical character and biogenic preservation (e.g., Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP-AES) and the cathodoluminescence petrography.


The student will receive specialist training in fieldwork and sequence stratigraphy utilising Plymouth/Manchester expertise. In world class laboratory facilities in Plymouth, the student will receive comprehensive training in clean handling, training in isotope geochemistry, cathodoluminescence petrography and other analytical techniques (e.g. ICP-AES) and clumped isotopes (at UEA)

Person specification

We are looking for a highly self-motivated graduate with a BSc degree in Earth Sciences. You will be inquisitive, enjoy problem-solving with a genuine passion for geosciences.


  • Bajnai, D., Guo, W., Löffler, N., Methner, K., Krsnik, E., Coplen, T.B., Gischle, E., Henkel, D., Price, G.D., Raddatz J., Fiebig, J. 2020 Coupled clumped isotope thermometry reveals unbiased carbonate formation temperatures. Nature Communications 11(1):4005
  • Price, G.D., Bajnai D., and Fiebig, J. 2020 Latitudinal seawater temperature gradients and the oxygen isotope composition of Early Cretaceous seas. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology,
  • Danise, S., Price, G.D., Alberti, M., Holland S.M. 2020 Isotopic evidence for partial geochemical decoupling between a Jurassic epicontinental sea and the open ocean. Gondwana Research, 82, 97–107.
  • Vickers, M.L., Bajnai, D., Price, G.D., Linckens, J. and Fiebig, J. 2019. Southern high-latitude warmth during the Jurassic–Cretaceous: New evidence from clumped isotope thermometry. Geology, 47, 724–728.
  • Paxton, R.B., Dennis, PF; Marca, A.D., Hendry J.P., Hudson, J.D., Andrews, J.E. 2021 Taking the heat out of British Jurassic septarian concretions Depositional Record 7, 333-343.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2023. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 19th May 2023.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£18,622 p.a. for 2023/24) and research funding. Please note that all international awards have been made for our programme for 2023 so we will not be accepting applications from international candidates,
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences, on top of all Research Costs associated with the project. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses.
  • ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience, and our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor. To apply for this Studentship follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or click the 'apply now' link.
  • ARIES is required by our funders to collect Equality and Diversity Information from all of our applicants. The information you provide will be used solely for monitoring and statistical purposes; it will remain confidential, and will be stored on the UEA sharepoint server. Data will not be shared with those involved in making decisions on the award of Studentships, and will have no influence on the success of your application. It will only be shared outside of this group in an anonymised and aggregated form. You will be ask to complete the form by the University to which you apply.

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