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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 Environment, Earth and Ecosystems discipline at the OU, our mission is to untangle some of these key processes that drive the planet’s climate. Our studies range from determining the past ocean circulation in geological time to the current decay of the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctic; and we are publishing our research in the highest ranked scientific journals.

Our particular areas of expertise are in the development and use of unique biomineral 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 2018 will be available online in late 2017.

Please also see further opportunities.

Current/recent research projects

  • Reconstructing ocean circulation patterns during the early/middle Eocene climatic warmth and subsequent cooling trend (47-53Ma)
  • Develop biogeochemical proxies to understand foraminifera calcification and past ocean chemistry
  • Assessing the impact of ocean acidification-induced changes on calcification and ecology of planktonic foraminifera
  • Understanding tectonic scale Indian Summer Monsoon evolution
  • Glacial-Interglacial reconstruction of Indian Summer Monsoon
  • 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
  • Reconstructing past ocean oxygenation and its relationship to global warmth
  • Understanding uncertainty in the weak underbelly of Antarctica

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Pallavi Anand – geochemical proxies development and application for past ocean physical and chemical environment and relationship with past climate
  • Dr Marcus Badger - temperature and PCO2 proxies application and climate modelling
  • Dr Mark Brandon – the interaction of the ocean with the cryosphere
  • Dr Angela Coe – biotic and sedimentological changes during ocean deoxygenation
  • Dr Tamsin Edwards – uncertainty, ice-sheet dynamics, climate change
  • 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 858253

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