- Lecturer in Organic Geochemistry (School of Geographical and Earth Sciences)
General Research Interests:
I use organic geochemistry as a tool to understand how the Earth system responds to climate change. Molecular fossils (biomarkers) are ubiquitous in sedimentary deposits and can often be applied in both marine and terrestrial environments, making them useful proxies for reconstructing environmental change. As an organic geochemist I collaborate with researchers in a number of different fields to generate multiproxy climate records. I also work with bioscientists to understand how/why organisms produce biomarkers and how those biomarkers relate to modern environmental parameters.
The Eocene Greenhouse (~55 million years ago)
The early Eocene, 55 to 43 million years ago (Ma), is a potential analogue for the Earth’s climate response to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Models project that early Eocene pCO2 concentrations (~1,000ppmv to >2,000ppmv) could be reached by as early as 2300 AD if left unabated. Recently, global climate models (GCMs) have reproduced the high surface temperatures (i.e. annual average ≅ 29°C) and reduced equator-to-pole temperature gradients of the early Eocene (see Huber and Caballero, 2011); however, the global carbon dynamics remain unconstrained by both GCMs and pCO2 proxies. I am analysing terrestrial biomarkers from the early Eocene section of core 1356A from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 318 to understand the role of an ice-free Antarctica in the global carbon cycle in this greenhouse world.
Methane Emission from Modern Peatlands
Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas and the largest natural source of CH4 to the atmosphere is peatlands. I am currently developing terrestrial biomarkers that can be used to test how CH4 emissions changed during warm climates of the past, such as during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP, 950 to 1250 AD) or the Eocene greenhouse (55 million years ago).
Alkenones as a Proxy for Lake Temperature
Alkenones are globally abundant hydrocarbon lipids produced by haptophyte algae. Haptophytes produce large quantities of alkenones seasonally, not only in the oceans, but also in lakes. These lipids are utilised for reconstructing past surface ocean temperatures; however, the diversity of alkenone producers in lakes makes equivalent lake surface temperature reconstructions challenging. My research focuses on proxy development for using alkenones in lakes, including bettering our understanding of how the organism relates to the lipids that it produces.
Toney, J.L. (2012) SAGES Theme 2 research enabling fund, “Detecting methane emissions from peatlands during the past millennium using methanotroph biomarkers”.
Jimenez-Moreno, G. (2011) El Cambio Climático en el Sur de la Península Ibérica: Reconstrucción Basada en Sedimentos Lacustres del Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada. Budget for organic biomarkers to JLT.
Toney, J.L. (2011) International Partnership Development Funding – University of Glasgow for collaboration initiation with Dr. Yoshihiro Shiraiwa at Tsukuba University, Japan.
Toney, J.L. and Seki, O. (2011) The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation grant for field work in Hokkaido, Japan.
Toney, J.L. (2010-2011) Brown University Graduate School – Dissertation Fellowship.
Toney, J.L. (2011) Consortium for Ocean Leadership – Grant to attend ‘IODP Early Career Workshop’.
Toney, J.L. (2010) NSF Scholarship to attend Urbino Summer School on Paleoclimatology.
Co-supervised PhD Candidate:
Jill McColl - University of Glasgow, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences."Climate variability of the last 1000 years in the NW Pacific: high resolution, multi-biomarker records from lake and ocean sediments."
Current Undergraduate Projects and Bursary Students:
Craig Barr - Final year project: 'Discovery of organic molecular fossils in the Southern Ocean during the Eocene (55 Ma) greenhouse'
Julia Rodden- Final year project: 'The role of a Japanese peatland in the carbon cycle'
Former Undergraduate Projects and Bursary Students:
Charlotte McLean - GSL Bursary project: 'The role of peatland expansion and methane cycling on the East Antarctic continent in the early Eocene'
William Vorley - Final year project: 'Lions Mane (Cyanea capilla) and Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) Biomarker Assay'
Daniella Peel - Final year project: 'Transport and deposition of bacterial hopane biomarkers in Siberian fluvial and lacustrine settings'
Casey Bryce - Bursary work on sediment cores, haptophyte cultures, and water column sampling at Loch Sunart, Scotland, UK
Elizabeth Denis - Honors Thesis, Brown University, US 'Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in lake sediments record historic fire events: Validation using HPLC-fluorescence detection'
Palaeoclimates with Dr. James Bendle
- Co-organized ‘The First International Joint Meeting of Alkenone Bioscience and Geoscience’, July 2012, Tsukuba, Japan at the University of Tsukuba.
- EGU Annual Meeting (2012), session: ‘Cenozoic greenhouse climates and carbon cycle dynamics’
- AGU Fall Meeting (2010), session: ‘Breakthroughs in continental paleothermometry: Applications of terrestrial proxies’
- Team member for application to Athena Swan Bronze status at the University of Glasgow.
- Graduate Representative for Earth Systems History to Dept. of Geological Sciences faculty meetings (2010-2011), Brown University
- Graduate Representative for Quaternary Sciences at the University Graduate Committee, (2001-2002) Northern Arizona University
- Reviewer for a number of international journals.
- Proposal peer review NASA.
- Earth Science Women’s Network – European Board Member
- EGU Women in Geosciences Mentor
- STEM Ambassador for Science Outreach, U.K. (2012)
Workshops and Short Courses:
- 2012 Dinocyst Course, Utrecht, Netherlands.
- 2010 Urbino Summer School on Paleoclimatology
Links to Outreach Activities: