My main interests are in reconstructing past environmental change and this falls within three main strands:
Holocene sea-level change and coastal evolution.
My main aims are to investigate the causes and effects of sea-level changes on a variety of temporal and spatial scales, utilising intertidal sediment records. I have recently been using saltmarsh sediment as a means to explore past relative sea-level changes in the last few thousand years. This involves the analysis of diatoms and foraminifera preserved in the sediment that can be quantitatively related to a former sea level. When combined with a good chronology (typically derived from radiocarbon analyses and other geochemical markers) a high-resolution sea-level record can be derived for the past few thousand years or so. I am also interested in longer-term relative sea-level records, and the influence of former ice sheets on sea-level rise and vertical land movement (induced by former ice and ocean loading on the Earth’s surface). I have also worked on coastal evolution and floodplain development using litho- and biostratigraphic techniques in back barrier coastal environments (e.g. Dungeness and Romney Marsh) and inner estuary perimarine settings (e.g. Humber estuary).
Vegetation history and palaeoecology.
My interests here broadly involve using pollen to investigate how groundwater level changes are expressed in vegetation successional pathways, and how these relate to sea-level changes. I have studied fen carr peat as a means to reconstruct Holocene vegetation history, non-analogue habitats and human impact.
Peatlands and palaeoclimate.
This research area seeks to reconstruct a bog-surface wetness history for sites in Cheshire and Merseyside to establish a climate record for the past 4000 years in NW England. Sites with uncut peat records are rare, particularly in the UK where there is a long history of intensive land-use, human occupation and urbanisation. This project provides an opportunity to investigate climate change and historical landscape change in an area with a well-known industrial past.
I am also interested in the functioning of contemporary coastal systems, particularly the response of intertidal foreshores to waves, tides and storm events, and the management of coastal environments.