The Earth Systems Research Theme utilises a diverse range of isotopic systems to measure past and present interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere and atmosphere, to understand future interactions in a changing climate.

The dynamic evolution of our living Earth

  • state-of-the-art mass spectrometry and stable and radiogenic isotope techniques can be used to reconstruct the formation of our Earth and solar system
  • stable isotopes of organic materials accurately trace food, diet, and movement in animal populations across vast distances
  • mobile gamma spectrometry and stable isotopes monitor and reduce the impact of anthropogenic activity
  • biochemistry and enriched stable isotope tracers reveal the effect of environmental factors on global human health

Modelling past change

  • determining rates of change and correlating these across Earth systems requires establishing the ages of key events using our in-house dating techniques (cosmogenic noble gases and radionuclides, OSL, Ar/Ar, U-series) and proxy records from oxygen, deuterium, and methane
  • the course of human history can be mapped out by radiocarbon dating

Looking to the future

  • stable isotopes are used to monitor the environmental impact of renewable energy sources
  • future climate change can be modelled from palaeothermometry using clumped isotope techniques
  • optimising radiocarbon dating from better understanding the reservoir effect
  • estimating future changes in ice volumes and sea level from cosmogenic nuclide and radiocarbon analyses of terrestrial archives