Genna Patton

PhD student
University of British Columbia

I am a PhD student in the Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences department at the University of British Columbia. I received my master’s degree from the University of Chicago, Department of the Geophysical Sciences studying paleoceanography. I am particularly interested in chemical tracers and proxies preserved in marine sediment that can characterize past modes of ocean circulation. The mode of ocean circulation plays a significant role in regulating global climate through processes such as heat transport and ocean-atmosphere exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2). Therefore, establishing reliable proxies that trace changes in the ocean circulation of the past is essential to quantify how circulation feeds back on the climate system. The isotopic composition of neodymium (Nd) preserved in various components of marine sediment identifies water masses with distinct isotopic compositions.

My initial analyses aimed to confirm the success of this proxy to identify water masses in the modern North Atlantic Ocean. I have now applied the proxy down core in the Cariaco Basin attempting to determine the extent of the influence of southern sourced waters at this location during glacial periods compared with interglacial periods. I will compare the changes in the Nd isotopic composition during the last 400,000 years with the changes during the Pleistocene glacial periods (which operate on 41,000 year cycles as opposed to 100,000 year cycles) and over the transition from 41kyr glacial cycling to 100kyr glacial cycling, known as the mid Pleistocene transition. The modes of ocean circulation that we see from one period to another may help to identify important triggers or responses to changes in the climate system.