The Southern Causasus sits at the junction of Arctic air to the north, the westerly jet circulation and warmer, moister climate to the south. There is a distinct rainfall gradient from west to east, with subtropical humid climate in the west to a drier, colder climate to east creating steppe conditions. In addition to this prevailing climate, there is also a sharp temperature gradient between summer and winter months as a result of the regions continentality. The Caucasus represent a transitional region between Europe and Asia and is implicated in the passage of human populations through time. As a result, the Southern Caucasus are an excellent region to investigate climate variability during the Holocene and it’s consquences for human migration, occupation and their impact on the environment.
The PhD project will focus on Lake Sevan, Armenia, which is the largest freshwater lake in the Caucasus. The student will generate a geochemical and stable isotope lake sediment record to reconstruct climate variability over the last 12,000 years, in order to provide evidence of palaeohydological changes since northern hemisphere deglaciation. Fundamental questions remain about climate variability in the Southern Caucasus region, especially synoptic-scale mechanisms that cause changes in hydroclimate, the studentship will develop answers and insights into the following questions:
1. What is the timing and frequency of hydroclimate during the late Holocene?
2. What is the magnitude of centennial and millennial-scale climate events since the deglacial?
3. What are the spatio-temporal linkages between the Southern Caucasus region, North Atlantic climate variability and the westerly jet?