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Dr. Robin Edwards
Associate Prof in Earth Sciences, Geography
Associate Prof in Earth Sciences, Geology

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Zoë A. Roseby, Katherine Southall, Fermin Alvarez-Agoues, Niamh Cahill, Gerard D. McCarthy, Robin J. Edwards, Two Centuries of Relative Sea-Level Rise in Dublin, Ireland, Reconstructed by Geological Tide Gauge, Open Quaternary, 9, 2023 Journal Article, 2023 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Sarah Bradley, Jeremy Ely, Chris Clark, Robin Edwards, Ian Shennan, Reconstruction of the palaeo-sea level of Britain and Ireland arising from empirical constraints of ice extent: Implications for regional sea level forecasts and North American ice sheet volume, Journal of Quaternary Science, 38, (6), 2023, p791 - 805 Journal Article, 2023 DOI

Sedimentary indicators of relative sea-level changes - low energy in, editor(s)N/A , Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, Elsevier, 2022, [Robin Edwards] Book Chapter, 2022 DOI

David T. Pugh; Edmund Bridge; Robin Edwards; Peter Hogarth; Guy Westbrook; Philip L. Woodworth; Gerard Daniel McCarthy, Mean Sea Level and Tidal Change in Ireland since 1842: A case study of Cork, Ocean Science Journal, 17, 2021, p1623 - 1637 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Graham Rush, Patrick McDarby, Robin Edwards, Yvonne Milker, Ed Garrett, Roland Gehrels, Development of an intertidal foraminifera training set for the North Sea and an assessment of its application for Holocene sea-level reconstructions, Marine Micropalaeontology, 169, 2021, p102055- Journal Article, 2021 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Ancient shorelines and sea-level changes in, editor(s)Robert Devoy, Val Cummins, Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett, Sarah Kandrot , The Coastal Atlas of Ireland, Cork, Cork University Press, 2021, pp131 - 147, [Robin Edwards, Robert Devoy] Book Chapter, 2021

Sajjad Sajjadi, Zdeněk Martinec, Patrick Prendergast, Jan Hagedoorn, Libor achl, Peter Readman, Robin Edwards, Brian O'Reilly, Clare Horan, The unification of gravity data for Ireland-Northern Ireland, The Leading Edge, 39, (2), 2020, p135 - 143 Journal Article, 2020 DOI

Serena Tarlati, S. Benetti, S.L. Callard, C. Ó Cofaigh, P. Dunlop, A. Georgiopoulou, R. Edwards, K.J.J. Van Landeghem, M. Saher, R. Chiverrell, D. Fabel, S. Moreton, S. Morgan & C.D. Clark, Final deglaciation of the Malin Sea through meltwater release and calving events, Scottish Journal of Geology, 56, (2), 2020, p117 - 133 Journal Article, 2020 DOI

Plets, R.M.K, Callard, S.L., Cooper, J.A.G., Kelley, J.T., Belknap, D.F., Edwards, R.J., Long, A.J., Quinn, R.J., Jackson, D.W.T., Late Quaternary sea-level change and evolution of Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland: new offshore evidence and implications for sea-level reconstruction, Journal of Quaternary Science, 34, (4-5), 2019, p285 - 298 Journal Article, 2019 TARA - Full Text DOI

Ludvig Lowemark, Itrax operators: Menno Bloemsma, Ian Croudace, J. Stephen Daly, Robin J.Edwards, Pierre Francus, Jennifer M.Galloway, Braden R.B.Gregory, Jyh-Jaan Steven Huang, Anna F.Jones, Malin Kylander, Ludvig Löwemark, Yangbing Luo, Suzanne Maclachlan, Christian Ohlendorf, R. Timothy Patterson, Christof Pearce, Jörn Profe, Eduard G.Reinhardt, Christian Stranne, Rik Tjallingii, Jonathan N.Turner, Practical guidelines and recent advances in the Itrax XRF core-scanning procedure, Quaternary International, 2019, p16 - 29 Journal Article, 2019 DOI

Anna Jones, Jonathan Turner, J. Stephen Daly, Pierre Francus, Robin Edwards, Signal-to-noise ratios, instrument parameters and repeatability of Itrax XRF core scan measurements of floodplain sediments, Quaternary International, 514, 2019, p44 - 54 Journal Article, 2019 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Andrew C. Kemp, Alexander J. Wright, Robin J. Edwards, Robert L. Barnett, Matthew J. Brain, Robert E. Kopp, Niamh Cahill, Benjamin P. Horton, Dan J. Charman, Andrea D. Hawkes, Troy D. Hill, Orson van de Plassche, Relative sea-level change in Newfoundland, Canada during the past ∼3000 years, Quaternary Science Reviews, 201, (1 December 2018), 2018, p89 - 110 Journal Article, 2018 DOI TARA - Full Text

Shennan, I, Bradley, S, Edwards R., Relative sea-level changes and crustal movements in Britain and Ireland since the Last Glacial Maximum, Quaternary Science Reviews, 188, 2018, p143 - 159 Journal Article, 2018 DOI TARA - Full Text URL

Kemp, A.C. and Wright, A.J. and Barnett, R.L. and Hawkes, A.D. and Charman, D.J. and Sameshima, C. and King, A.N. and Mooney, H.C. and Edwards, R.J. and Horton, B.P. and van de Plassche, O., Utility of salt-marsh foraminifera, testate amoebae and bulk-sediment ÎŽ13C values as sea-level indicators in Newfoundland, Canada, Marine Micropaleontology, 130, 2017, p43-59 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Alexander J. Wright, Robin J. Edwards, Orson van de Plassche, Maarten Blaauw, Andrew C. Parnell, Klaas van der Borg, Arie F. M. de Jong, Helen M. Roe, Katherine Selby, Stuart Black, Reconstructing the accumulation history of a saltmarsh sediment core: Which age-depth model is best?, Quaternary Geochronology, 39, 2017, p35 - 67 Journal Article, 2017 DOI TARA - Full Text

Robin Edwards, W. Roland Gehrels, Anthony Brooks, Ralph Fyfe, Katie Pullen, Joseph Kuchar, Kieran Craven, Resolving discrepancies between field and modelled relative sea-level data: lessons from western Ireland, Journal of Quaternary Science, 32, (7), 2017, p957 - 975 Journal Article, 2017 TARA - Full Text DOI

Relative sea-level change around the Irish coast in, editor(s)P. Coxon S. McCarron F. Mitchell , Advances in Irish Quaternary Studies, Paris, Atlantis Press, 2017, pp181 - 215, [R. Edwards, K. Craven] Book Chapter, 2017 DOI TARA - Full Text

Irish Sea and Atlantic Margin in, editor(s)Flemming, N.C. Harff, J. Moura, D. Burgess, A. Bailey, G.N. , Submerged Landscapes of the European Continental Shelf: Quaternary Paleoenvironments, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017, pp241 - [Westley, K., Edwards, R.] Book Chapter, 2017 URL

Craven, K.F., Edwards, R.J., Flood, R.P., Source organic matter analysis of saltmarsh sediments using SIAR and its application in relative sea-level studies in regions of C4 plant invasion, Boreas, 46, 2017, p642 - 654 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Plets, R.M.K., Callard, S.L., Cooper, J.A.G., Long, A.J., Quinn, R.J., Belknap, D.F., Edwards, R.J., Jackson, D.W.T., Kelley, J.T., Long, D., Milne, G.A., Monteys, X., Late Quaternary evolution and sea-level history of a glaciated marine embayment, Bantry Bay, SW Ireland, Marine Geology, 369, 2015, p251 - 272 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Foraminifera in, editor(s)Shennan, I. Long, A.J. Horton, B.P. , Handbook of Sea Level Research, Chichester, UK, John Wiley & Sons, 2015, pp191 - 217, [Edwards, R.J., Wright, A.J.] Book Chapter, 2015

Sturt, F., Dix, J.K., Grant, M.J., Steadman, S., Scaife, R., Edwards, R.J., Griffiths, S., Cameron, N., Thompson, C., Bray, S., Jones, J., LIFE BELOW THE WAVES: PALAEOLANDSCAPES PRESERVED WITHIN THE SUB-TIDAL BRISTOL CHANNEL, Archaeology in the Severn Estuary, 22, 2014, p41 - 66 Journal Article, 2014

Craven, K.F. and Edwards, R.J. and Goodhue, R. and Rocha, C., Evaluating the influence of selected acid pre-treatment methods on C/N and ÎŽ13C of temperate inter-tidal sediments for relative sea level reconstruction, Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, 31, 2014, p25-42 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Craven, K., Edwards, R.J., Goodue, R., Rocha, C., Evaluating the influence of selected acid-pretreatment methods on the environmental interpretation of C/N and δ13C of temperate inter-tidal sediments for relative sea-level reconstruction, Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, 31, 2013, p25 - 42 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text DOI

Sedimentary Indicators of Relative Sea-Level Change - Low Energy in, editor(s)Scott Elias , Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science (2nd Edition), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Elsevier, 2013, pp396 - 408, [Edwards, R.J.] Book Chapter, 2013 TARA - Full Text DOI

Benjamin Thébaudeau, Alan S. Trenhaile, Robin J. Edwards, Modelling the Development of Rocky Shoreline Profiles along the Northern Coast of Ireland, Geomorphology, 203, 2013, p66 - 78 Journal Article, 2013 DOI TARA - Full Text

High resolution geophysical investigation of the nearshore environment of the Wootton-Quarr coast in, editor(s)Tomalin, D.J., Loader, R.D., Scaife, R.G. , Coastal Archaeology in a Dynamic Environment: A Solent Case Study, Oxford, Archaeopress, 2012, [Edwards, R.J., Dix, J.K.] Book Chapter, 2012

Kuchar, J., Milne, G., Hubbard, A., Patton, H., Bradley, S., Shennan, I., Edwards, R.J., Evaluation of a numerical model of the British- Irish ice sheet using relative sea-level data: implications for the interpretation of trim line observations , Journal of Quaternary Science, 27, (6), 2012, p597 - 605 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Wright, A.J., Edwards, R.J., van de Plassche, O., Reassessing transfer-function performance in sea-level reconstruction based on benthic salt-marsh foraminifera from the Atlantic Coast of NE North America, Marine Micropaleontology, 81, 2011, p43 - 62 Journal Article, 2011 TARA - Full Text

Brooks, A.J., Bradley, S.L., Edwards, R.J., Goodwyn, N., The Palaeogeography of Northwest Europe During the Last 20,000 Years, Journal of Maps, v2011, 2011, p573 - 587 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Brooks, A.J. and Bradley, S.L. and Edwards, R.J. and Goodwyn, N., The palaeogeography of Northwest Europe during the last 20,000 years, Journal of Maps, 7, (1), 2011, p573-587 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Bradley, S., Milne, G., Shennan, I., Edwards, R.J., An improved glacial isostatic adjustment model for the British Isles, Journal of Quaternary Science, 26, (5), 2011, p541 - 552 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Kemp, A., Horton, B,P., Corbett, R., Culver, S., Edwards, R., van de Plassche, O., The relative utility of foraminifera and diatoms for reconstructing late Holocene sea-level change in North Carolina, USA, Quaternary Research, 71, (1), 2009, p9 - 21 Journal Article, 2009 DOI

Allen, M.J., Scaife, R., Manning, A., Edwards, R.J., The development and vegetation history of the Akrotiri Salt Lake, Cyprus, Quaternary Newsletter, 119, 2009, p1 - 16 Journal Article, 2009

Edwards, R.J., Bradley, S., Brooks, A., Milne, G., Shennan, I., Author's response to comments by A.M. McCabe, Journal of Quaternary Science, 23, (8), 2008, p821 - 825 Journal Article, 2008 DOI

Edwards, R. and Brooks, A. and Shennan, I. and Milne, G. and Bradley, S., Reply: Postglacial relative sea-level observations from Ireland and their role in glacial rebound modelling, Journal of Quaternary Science, 23, (8), 2008, p821-825 Journal Article, 2008 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Sea levels: science & society, Progress in Physical Geography, 32, (5), 2008, p539 - 556 Journal Article, 2008 DOI TARA - Full Text

Edwards, R.J., Brooks, A.J., The Island of Ireland: Drowning the Myth of an Irish Land-Bridge?, Mind the Gap: Postglacial Colonisation of Ireland. Special Supplement to The Irish Naturalists' Journal., 2008, p19 - 34 Journal Article, 2008 TARA - Full Text

Brooks, A.J., Bradley, S.L., Edwards, R.J., Milne, G.A., Shennan, I., Post-Glacial Relative Sea-Level Observations From Ireland and Their Role in Glacial Rebound Modelling, Journal of Quaternary Science, 23, (2), 2008, p175 - 192 Journal Article, 2008 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Progress Report. Sea levels: resolution and uncertainty, Progress in Physical Geography, 31, (6), 2007, p621 - 632 Journal Article, 2007 DOI TARA - Full Text

Edwards, R., Sea levels: Resolution and uncertainty, Progress in Physical Geography, 31, (6), 2007, p621-632 Journal Article, 2007 DOI

Sedimentary Indicators of Relative Sea-Level Change - Low Energy in, editor(s)Elias, S. , Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, Netherlands, Elsevier, 2007, pp2994 - 3005, [Edwards, R.J.] Book Chapter, 2007

Brooks, A, Edwards, R.J., The Development of a Sea-Level Database for Ireland, Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, 24, 2006, p13 - 27 Journal Article, 2006

Horton, B.P., Corbett, R., Culver, S.J., Edwards, R.J., Hillier, C., Modern saltmarsh diatom distributions of the Outer Banks, North Carolina and the development of a transfer function for high resolution reconstructions of sea level, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 69, (3-4), 2006, p381 - 394 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Horton, B.P., Developing Detailed Records of Relative Sea-Level Change Using A Foraminiferal Transfer Function: An Example from North Norfolk, UK., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 364, (1841), 2006, p973 - 991 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Sea level studies | Low energy coasts sedimentary indicators, 2006, 2994-3006pp Book, 2006 DOI

Horton, B.P., Edwards, R.J., Quantifying Holocene Sea-Level Change Using Intertidal Foraminifera: Lessons from the UK, Journal of Foraminiferal Research, Special Publication, (40), 2006 Journal Article, 2006

Edwards, R.J., Sea Levels: change and variability during warm intervals, Progress in Physical Geography, 30, (6), 2006, p785 - 796 Journal Article, 2006 DOI TARA - Full Text

Edwards, R.J., Mid-to late-Holocene relative sea-level change in southwest Britain and the influence of sediment compaction, The Holocene, 16, (4), 2006, p575 - 587 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Brooks, A. and Edwards, R., The development of a sea-level database for Ireland, Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, (24), 2006, p13-27 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Horton B.P., Edwards R.J., The application of local and regional transfer functions to reconstruct former sea levels, north Norfolk, England., The Holocene, 15, (2), 2005, p216 - 228 Journal Article, 2005 DOI

Horton, B.P. and Edwards, R.J., The application of local and regional transfer functions to the reconstruction of Holocene sea levels, north Norfolk, England, Holocene, 15, (2), 2005, p216-228 Journal Article, 2005 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Sea Levels: Abrupt Events and Mechanisms of Change, Progress in Physical Geography, 29, (4), 2005, p599 - 608 Journal Article, 2005 TARA - Full Text DOI

Edwards R.J., Wright A.J., van de Plassche O., Surface distributions of salt-marsh foraminiferal from Connecticut, USA: Modern Analogues for high resolution sea-level studies., Marine Micropaleontology , 51, (1-2), 2004, p1 - 21 Journal Article, 2004 DOI

Edwards R.J., van de Plassche O., Gehrels W.R., Wright A.J., Assessing Sea-Level Data From Connecticut, USA, Using A Foraminiferal Transfer Function For Tide Level., Marine Micropaleontology , 51, (3-4), 2004, p239 - 255 Journal Article, 2004 DOI

Constructing chronologies of sea-level change from salt-marsh sediments in, editor(s)Buck C.E., Millard A.R. , Tools for Constructing Chronologies: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries., London, Springer Verlag , 2004, pp191 - 213, [Edwards, R.J.] Book Chapter, 2004

Seasonal distributions of foraminifera and their implications for sea-level studies. in, editor(s)Olson, H.C. and Leckie, R.M. , Micropaleontologic porxies for sea-level change and stratigraphic discontinuities, Society for Sedimentary Geology Special Publication 75, 2003, pp21 - 30, [Horton B.P., Edwards R.J.] Book Chapter, 2003

Van de Plassche O., Edwards R.J., van der Borg K., de Jong A.F.M., 14C wiggle-match dating in high-resolution sea-level research., Radiocarbon, 43, (2A), 2001, p391 - 402 Journal Article, 2001

Horton B.P., Edwards R.J., Quantitative palaeoenvironmental reconstruction techniques in sea-level studies., Archaeology in the Severn Estuary, 11, 2001, p105 - 120 Journal Article, 2001

Edwards, R.J., Mid- to late Holocene relative sea-level change in Poole Harbour, southern England, Journal of Quaternary Science, 16, (3), 2001, p221-235 Journal Article, 2001 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Mid to late Holocene relative sea-level change in the Hampshire Basin, UK: New data from Poole Harbour., Journal of Quaternary Science , 16, (3), 2001, p221 - 235 Journal Article, 2001

Edwards R.J., Horton B.P., Reconstructing relative sea-level change using UK salt-marsh foraminifera., Marine Geology, 169, (1-2), 2000, p41 - 56 Journal Article, 2000

Implications of a microfossil transfer function in Holocene sea-level studies. in, editor(s)Shennan, I. and Andrews, J. E. , Holocene land-ocean interaction and environmental change around the western North Sea., Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 175,, 2000, pp41 - 54, [Horton B.P., Edwards R.J., and Lloyd J.M.] Book Chapter, 2000

Stratigraphic architecture, relative sea-level, and models of estuary development in southern England: New data from Southampton Water. in, editor(s)Pye, K. and Allen, J.R.L. , Coastal and Estuarine Environments: sedimentology, geomorphology and geoarchaeology., Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 2000, pp253 - 279, [Long A.J., Scaife R.G., Edwards R.J. (2000)] Book Chapter, 2000

Horton B.P., Edwards R.J., Lloyd J.M., A foraminiferal-based transfer function: implications for sea-level studies., Journal of Foraminiferal Research , 29, (2), 1999, p117 - 129 Journal Article, 1999

Horton B.P., Edwards R.J., Lloyd J.M. , UK intertidal foraminiferal distributions: implications for sea-level studies., Marine Micropalaeontology , 36, (4), 1999, p205 - 223 Journal Article, 1999 DOI

Long A.J., Scaife R.G., Edwards R.J., Pine pollen in intertidal sediments from Poole Harbour, UK : implications for late-Holocene sediment accretion rates and sea-level rise. , Quaternary International , 55, (1), 1999, p3 - 16 Journal Article, 1999 DOI

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Robin Edwards, Understanding Sea Level Rise and Variability, Review of Understanding Sea Level Rise and Variability, by John A. Church, Philip L. Woodworth, Thorkild Aarup, W. Stanley Wilson (Editors) , The Holocene, 21, (7), 2011, p1173-74 Review, 2011

Robin Edwards, Book Review, Review of Ecology and Applications of Benthic Foraminifera, by J. Murray , Journal of Paleolimnology, 40, (2), 2008, p747-749 Review, 2008 DOI

Edwards, R.J., Review of Quaternary Environmental Micropalaeontology, by Haslett, S.K. , Quaternary Science Reviews, 22, 2003, p760-761 Review, 2003

Research Expertise


I am a geoscientist interested in reconstructing past environmental change. My principal research aim is to understand the causes and effects of sea-level change. Much of my work has focussed on developing and refining methods to extract precise records of past relative sea-level from intertidal sediments. I analyse Foraminifera from saltmarsh sediments and apply statistical models (transfer functions) to quantify their vertical relationships with former sea levels. These data can then be combined with detailed radiocarbon dating to construct high resolution records of relative sea-level change from sediment cores covering the last few thousand years. I am also interested in reconstructing the larger-scale changes in relative sea-level that occurred as the last glacial period drew to a close and our modern warm interval began. This work involves collaboration with geophysical modellers to explore the combined effects of global sea-level rise, melting ice sheets and the vertical land movements induced by changes in ice and ocean loading of the Earth's surface. One of the products of this work is the capability to simulate past relative sea-level changes and infer the changing geography of our planet. I am interested in better understanding when Ireland became an island and in locating evidence of lost landscapes that now lie beneath the sea. These environments are of particular significance for understanding early human movement and occupation. In addition to my coastal research, I also analyse seafloor sediments and the foraminifera they contain. This work seeks to improve our knowledge of how marine-based ice sheets respond to climate and ocean circulation change.


  • Title
    • . A4: Aigéin, Aeráid, agus Athrú Atlantaigh (Oceans, Climate, and Atlantic Change)
  • Summary
    • Ireland is a small island on the edge of a large ocean. Atlantic changes arguably impact Ireland more than any other country. For example, in 2015, when the record global surface temperatures were reached, Ireland had below average temperatures due to a cool Atlantic. Irish temperatures bucking the trend in 2015 brings sharp focus to the fact that understanding Ireland's place in a changing climate requires understanding the changing Atlantic. Ireland's marine territory is ten times larger than her terrestrial territory. The government of Ireland has set an ambitious target of doubling Ireland's blue economic output by 2030. Underpinning this growth is a research strategy that allows sustainable, safe, and managed exploitation of the marine environment. A necessary step to facilitate this is to understand the changing physical environment on the eastern seaboard of the Atlantic in a changing climate. We have identified three areas of physical oceanography and climate research where impactful and strategically important progress can be made. These areas are: understanding Atlantic variability and its connection to the Irish shelf (WP1); advancing knowledge of Irish sea level change in an Atlantic context (WP2); and development of predictive capacity on decadal timescales for planning and management (WP3). All three strands will be integrated in WP4 to provide comprehensive, stakeholder-focused reports. The workpackages link to four high level objectives: (O1) improve understanding of the changing Atlantic and its impacts on Ireland and Irish waters; (O2) build capacity and capability in physical oceanography and climate research in key areas to enable greater participation in future international efforts; (O3) exploit the existing marine observations and contribute to international frameworks for observing the oceans; and (O4) delivery of climate information to key stakeholders to understand and manage our place in a changing climate on the edge of a changing ocean.
  • Funding Agency
    • Marine Institute
  • Date From
    • April 2019
  • Date To
    • March 2024
  • Title
    • Ice Sheet - Ocean Interaction in the North Atlantic: A Palaeoceanographic Perspective
  • Summary
    • It is widely accepted that sea level will rise in the future as a result of global warming and the accompanying melting of global ice and thermal extension. However, the responses of the oceans (changes in ocean circulation, temperature and sea level) due to these changes are still not fully understood. For this reason, predictive models of future changes are associated with significant uncertainties. One way to improve these models is a better understanding of how conditions have varied in the past. One aspect to be considered are millennial-scale abrupt climate changes which can be triggered by ice sheet collapses. This is potentially important since the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have exhibited such dynamics behaviour in the last decade. The evolution and demise of the British Irish Ice Sheet is a useful analogue for the behaviour of a marine-based ice sheet in a warming world. The sediments accumulating off the west coast of Ireland, along the Porcupine Bank and in the adjacent Rockall Trough, have provided important insights into this evolution. The aim of this project will be to produce high resolution records of ocean circulation and ice sheet changes from selected deepwater cores recovered from the slope deposits of Porcupine Bank. A multi-proxy approach is applied where data from planktonic/benthic foraminifera (census and stable isotopes) and marine sedimentology (laser granulometry and sortable silt) are combined to explore millennial-scale changes in sea surface temperatures, water mass characteristics, ocean circulation/current velocity, phases of ice rafting and sediment flux. The cores will be dated by the means of foraminifera-based stable isotope event stratigraphy, 14C measurements of foraminifera and tephrochronology.
  • Funding Agency
    • Irish Research Council
  • Date From
    • 2013
  • Date To
    • 2017
  • Title
    • Testing simulations of relative sea-level change: a marine geophysical perspective
  • Summary
    • Relative sea-level (RSL) histories provide unique insights into the topical issues of ice sheet response to climate change and future sea-level rise. Data from Ireland are particularly instructive due to their location at the former limit of a major ice sheet. Despite their significance, Irish RSL histories are contested and the debate largely characterised by polarised views that reflect methodological and discipline-related divisions. This project will cross this boundary by integrating approaches from both sides of the methodological divide to test the validity of two competing and mutually exclusive views of RSL change since the last glacial maximum (LGM).
  • Funding Agency
    • SFI (€138 216)
  • Date From
    • October 2009
  • Date To
    • September 2013
  • Title
    • Palaeoceanographic records of abrupt climate change: a preliminary investigation
  • Summary
    • This project will analyse existing box and short gravity cores to examine the nature of the palaeoceanographic record they contain with a specific focus on their potential for elucidating multi-centennial to millennial scale, climate-related processes. The coring sites are located within the sensitive NE Atlantic region which has a proven track-record for furnishing high-quality palaeoceanographic records of Late Quaternary climate change. This project will target the last glacial to Holocene sequences in this region with the following objectives: 1. Catalogue and characterise the recent (Holocene) foraminiferal assemblages of the sampling sites and their relationship to key oceanographic variables (e.g. temperature, salinity, water depth etc); 2. Examine changes in these and associated parameters through time by reference to down-core variation in foraminiferal assemblages (benthic and planktonic), and their stable isotopic signatures (ä18O; ä13C); 3. Establish core chronologies and sedimentation rates via a dating programme including AMS radiocarbon analysis of microfossils coupled with stable isotope foraminiferal tuning to Greenland ice core record(s), augmented where appropriate by tephrochronology 4. Assess the evidence for millennial to sub-millennial palaeoceanographic changes from combined sedimentological, microfossil and geochronological analysis, and explore their significance for the current understanding of climate-cryosphere-ocean linkages in the N. Atlantic.
  • Funding Agency
    • GSI & MI (€ 29 625)
  • Date From
    • Jan 2009
  • Date To
    • Sep 2010
  • Title
    • Testing the utility of a combined geochemical and microfossil-based approach to sea-level reconstruction in western Ireland
  • Summary
    • Relative sea-level (RSL) data from western Ireland can provide critical constraints on geophysical models seeking to describe the interplay between dynamic ice sheet responses to climate change, isostatic rebound and 'global' eustatic sea-level rise. Despite this, there is a virtual absence of reliable RSL data from large stretches of the Irish coastline and traditional reconstruction methodologies have failed to extract the required information even though there are thick sedimentary sequences in the region. This project will apply a new methodological approach to RSL reconstruction in Ireland to address this important knowledge gap. It will achieve this by answering the following research questions: (1) are carbon / nitrogen ratios (C/N) and carbon isotopes (ä13C) diagnostic tools for discriminating between inter-tidal and terrestrial sediments in western Ireland?; (2) can a composite geochemical and microfossil-based approach improve relative sea-level reconstructions in terms of both data quality (accuracy/precision) and availability (spatial/temporal distribution)?; (3) does a new glacial rebound model for Ireland reliably simulate RSL change within the Shannon estuary?
  • Funding Agency
    • IRCSET
  • Date From
    • 2008
  • Date To
    • 2011
  • Title
    • Examining the evidence for a recent acceleration in the rate of sea level rise using combined instrumental and proxy data
  • Summary
    • Scientists agree that sea level rise is potentially one of the most devastating impacts of future climate change, but tide gauge records are too short to show whether sea levels are rising faster today than in the past. This project will use high-resolution geological indicators to relocate former sea levels. These geological-based reconstructions will be validated against tide gauge data and historical evidence of coastal change. They will then be extended to reconstruct sea level rise over the last 200-300 years, and evaluate the evidence for accelerations that may be linked with human activities.
  • Funding Agency
    • Science Foundation Ireland
  • Date From
    • September 2006
  • Date To
    • February 2010
  • Title
    • Deposits of thermohaline currents on slopes west of Ireland - implications for climate change
  • Summary
    • Ocean currents are important to global temperature regulation, providing poleward transport of heat. Where the currents impinge on the seabed, they can transport and deposit sand and mud. Such deposits can be used to identify periods when currents were active in the past, and to constrain variations in current strength and depth. The project will investigate underwater slopes to the west of Ireland where deposits spanning the last glaciation are found. An extensive array of cores on the west Porcupine Bank will be used to reconstruct the history of current activity and to relate this to climate records onshore.
  • Funding Agency
    • Science Foundation Ireland
  • Date From
    • September 2006
  • Date To
    • August 2009
  • Title
    • Holocene sea-level change and glacio-isostatic adjustment in Ireland
  • Summary
    • Geologically-based sea-level data were extracted from almost sixty publications and compiled into a sea level database for Ireland (Brooks & Edwards, 2006). This online database ( comprises over 200 entries which are screened and arranged using a strict quality tier system. These data conform to internationally recognised protocols for sea level studies and provide the most complete picture of post-glacial relative sea-level (RSL) change around the Irish coast. They were used to develop a new glacial rebound model for Ireland which is capable of simulating RSL changes since the last glacial maximum (Brooks et al., 2008). This model represents a significant advance from earlier studies by incorporating a revised, terrain-corrected ice sheet model for Ireland. Model results were tested by the collection of new sea level data from eight study sites in western Ireland. Thirty-two AMS radiocarbon dates were used to provide new constraints on post glacial RSL changes. These data show reasonable agreement with simulations by the new model, suggesting it successfully captures the general patterns of change. Some discrepancies around the time of the mid Holocene are noted, and may relate to inadequate treatment of Holocene meltwater additions by current models. This will require further research to resolve.
  • Funding Agency
    • Enterprise Ireland
  • Date From
    • 1/10/2003
  • Date To
    • 1/10/2006
  • Title
    • A vulnerability assessment of Ireland's coastal archaeological heritage
  • Summary
    • Ireland's coastline has a long history of occupation, from Mesolithic hunter-gatherers to modern fishing and farming communities. Several pioneering studies have demonstrated that estuarine and coastal environments hold an immensely important record of people's interaction with the sea. However, coastal and inter-tidal archaeological heritage is inherently threatened due to the dynamic nature of the environments in which it is found. At present, this archaeological resource is poorly understood. Furthermore, there is little baseline knowledge of the vulnerability of Ireland's coastal archaeological resource, or how this may be affected by processes associated with coastal change and future sea-level rise. This report provides a preliminary assessment of vulnerability by identifying key regions that are most susceptible to coastal change, and examining the nature of the archaeological resource contained within them. A glacial rebound model is used to simulate long-term relative sea-level (RSL) and coastal changes around Ireland over the last 20 000 years. Fifteen simulated RSL curves for locations around Ireland reveal the contrasting patterns of change, with northern and north-eastern parts of Ireland experiencing long-term uplift and large portions of western, southern and southeastern Ireland experiencing long-term subsidence. These differential land-level movements will either reduce or enhance the rate of sea-level rise predicted to occur as a consequence of human-induced climate change. Estimates for the average rate of RSL rise to 2050 range from 1.3 to 6.5 mm/yr depending on location and scenario used, with the largest rates being experience in the south west of Ireland. These rates suggest that the predicted land loss and length of threatened coastline presented in a recent DoE report should be regarded as conservative estimates. Changes in coastal configuration during the last 20 000 years are reconstructed by combining the simulated RSL data with topographic and bathymetric information. These changes are used in combination with the RSL estimates to highlight three regions that are potentially most at risk from future RSL rise and any increase in storminess associated with climate change. These regions are: the inlets of southern Ireland; the Shannon estuary; the coastline of Mayo, Connemara and associated islands. The nature of the threats to coastal archaeology is summarised, and then illustrated with reference to the three case study regions mentioned above. These examples highlight the destruction that is already underway, and the uniquely fragile nature of coastal archaeological heritage. This vulnerability makes rapid identification and investigation of paramount importance. Processes such as RSL rise reduce the time available for this and thereby amplify the threat. Unlike certain environments or ecosystems that can migrate naturally or via engineered intervention, our archaeological heritage can neither be 'moved' nor 're-created'. It is a finite resource which, once lost, is gone forever. It is hoped that by prioritising areas that are most at risk, and by highlighting regions with greatest archaeological potential, these losses can be minimised. There is now a need for a significant desk-top study to document and asses existing coastal archaeological sites. In addition, improved bathymetric and geophysical surveys in key locations have the potential to improve understanding of palaeogeographic change, and highlight those areas of greatest archaeological potential or vulnerability.
  • Funding Agency
    • Heritage Council
  • Date From
    • April 2006
  • Date To
    • November 2006


Climate Change; Coastal Environmental Change; Earth Science; Earth Sciences for Climate Research; Earth Stratigraphy, Sedimentary Processes; FORAMINIFERA; Glaciology; MARINE; Oceanography; Paleoclimatology; Paleontology, Paleoecology; Quarternary science; SALT MARSH; SALT-MARSH; SALTMARSH; Sea Level