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Geology Department Postgraduate Web Pages

Name: Fermin Alvarez Agoues

Fermin Alvarez Agoues

Contact Details

Phone: 0034 649600129

T: @FerminAim

Title of Project

Common Era Atlantic Sea Level Change

Postgraduate research summary

Quantifying regional variations in sea level rise is one of the Grand Challenges set by the World Climate Research Programme. Understanding the expression of Atlantic variability on the Irish shelf is important for translating globally averaged rates of mean sea level rise (SLR) to the regional and local scales at which coastal policies and management are enacted. Changes in North Atlantic circulation are potentially significant drivers of spatially variable SLR. One of the few consistent regional sea level predictions in the CMIP5 suite of models, is an increase in sea level on the western margin of the North Atlantic due to a declining Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The predicted spatial pattern of changing AMOC strength is likely to be evident in saltmarsh-based, geological reconstructions of relative sea level (RSL) change along the North American coast, although additional data are required to test this hypothesis. Model predictions of regional sea level change on the eastern margin of the North Atlantic in response to a declining AMOC are much less consistent, whilst observations of Irish RSL are comparatively sparse and of limited duration, precluding trans-basin analysis. Bridging this fundamental data gap is possible by integrating new RSL information via data archaeology, field survey and geological reconstruction.
This PhD project will contribute to addressing this knowledge gap by:

  • 1)  Using saltmarshes as ‘geological tide gauges’ to produce new RSL records of change from the Atlantic coasts of North America and Ireland
  • 2)  Using these new records to test the proposed fingerprint of AMOC-related change along the western Atlantic margin (USA), and establish whether related signatures can be detected along the eastern Atlantic margin (Ireland).

In summary, the present project will contribute to a better understanding of the sea level variability in the Atlantic and its driving mechanisms. This will help to understand the state of the Atlantic, its evolution and impact on both coasts under a changing climate context, providing an evidence-based foundation for decision making, building capacity and capability for future efforts and delivering key information to key stakeholders to understand and manage our place in a changing climate.

Name of supervisors

Dr Robin Edwards

Postgraduate personal details

Bachelor’s degree in Geology at the University of the Basque Country, Spain

MSc in Marine Environments and Resources (University of Southampton)

Project Start Date

March 2020


Marine Institute / European Regional Development