For her research on climate change in the Arctic, geologist Gina Moseley has been awarded the €1.1 million START Prize of the FWF. The START programme is aimed at young top researchers of all disciplines who are given the opportunity to plan their research in the long term and with financial security.
Climate change in the Arctic
The Arctic region is expected to experience some of the greatest climate and environmental changes in the coming centuries as a result of climate change. The consequences of these changes will be felt worldwide, for example through rising sea levels or changes in weather systems in the northern hemisphere. Improving understanding of how the Arctic will develop in a warmer world is therefore a top priority. One of the ways to achieve this is to study warmer periods of the recent geological past. North-East Greenland is one of the Arctic regions that is expected to undergo the greatest changes. Only very little information is known about the climate history of this area. The main motivation of the Northeast Greenland speleothema project is to close this fundamental knowledge gap with the help of an innovative climate archive: sinter deposits in caves, also known as speleothems. Today the area in which the caves are located is dry and the ground is permanently frozen, so that no speleothems can form. A pilot study by Moseley has shown that this region must have been warmer and wetter in the past. With the funds of the START Prize, the scientist will undertake a major expedition to North-East Greenland, during which further caves will be visited and extensive samples will be taken. These are then to be analysed using the latest methods. The project aims to reconstruct the periods in Greenland's recent geological past in which it was warmer and wetter than today, to reconstruct climate stability at these intervals, to study the seasonality of climate change during past warm periods and to precisely record temperature changes during past warm periods. The pilot study already showed that speleothems formed in North-East Greenland 600,000 and 400,000 years ago. In comparison, the famous ice core drilling in central Greenland only goes back a maximum of 128,000 years. In the course of this START project, the world's first Arctic speleothem research group is established at the University of Innsbruck. It will not only be a pioneering step for international speleothema research, which has so far concentrated on the lower and middle latitudes, but will also open up new perspectives for paleoclimatology, in which a new window into the past of the polar region will be opened, so to speak.
About the person
Dr. Gina Moseley (*1984 in Walsall, UK) studied Physical Geography at the University of Birmingham. She completed her PhD at the University of Bristol. Moseley has been a postdoc at the University of Innsbruck since 2011 and an FWF Hertha Firnberg Fellow since 2015. Gina Moseley has received several awards for her scientific achievements to date.