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Oceanography and palaeoceanography

Research Oceanography and palaeoceanography with the Open University

You have probably heard the Earth called 'the blue planet'. What is less understood is that the blue colour – the oceans – are largely responsible for controlling the climate. In the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group at the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems Sciences, at the OU, our mission is to untangle some of these key Earth System processes that drive the planet’s climate. Our Oceanography and palaeoceanography research ranges from reconstructing past ocean environments to the current decay of the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctic.

Our particular areas of expertise are in the development and use of unique biominerals as inorganic and organic geochemical proxies in state-of-the-art laboratories, and collecting vital data in remote field work in some of the least-visited areas of the planet. We welcome applications from potential students interested in working in these vital science areas.

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on palaeoceanography and polar oceanography linked to the expertise of the potential supervisors. Specific project titles for 2019 will be available online in late 2018.

Please also see further opportunities.

Current/recent research projects

  • Onset of the Antarctic circumpolar current and the oceanographic isolation of Antarctica
  • Phytoplankton productivity and evolution during the Plio-Pleistocene
  • Reconstruction of past changes in North Atlantic overturning using neodymium isotopes
  • Ocean circulation, properties and variability in Marguerite Bay, west Antarctic Peninsula
  • Sea ice thickness and iceberg distribution in the Southern Ocean
  • Indian Summer Monsoon evolution during the late Pliocene
  • Climate and carbon cycle instability during extreme ‘greenhouse’ warmth
  • Reconstruction of Indian Summer Monsoon response to global climate change
  • Reconstructing past ocean oxygenation and its relationship to global warmth
  • Understanding uncertainty in the weak underbelly of Antarctica
  • Assessing the impact of ocean acidification-induced changes on calcification and ecology of planktonic foraminifera
  • Develop biogeochemical proxies to understand foraminifera calcification and past ocean chemistry.

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Pallavi Anand – ocean biogeochemical proxies and palaeoceanography
  • Dr Marcus Badger - organic geochemical temperature and atmospheric CO2 proxies application and climate modelling
  • Dr Mark Brandon – the interaction of the ocean with the cryosphere
  • Dr Neil Edwards – climate models, carbon cycle, palaeoceanography
  • Dr Philip Sexton – climatic change during the Eocene and mid-Cretaceous ‘greenhouse’ regimes, and the relationships between ocean circulation, ocean carbonate chemistry, and atmospheric CO2

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 332943

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.