Dr. Margaret Jackson

Dr. Margaret Jackson

Assistant Professor, Geography


My research focuses on how changes in climate are reflected in glacial landscapes. The causes of Earth's ice ages and their abrupt terminations are still uncertain, but are key to understanding our climate system and its capacity for (sometimes rapid) change.

Glaciers are highly sensitive to changes in climate. I study the traces that glaciers leave on Earth's surface as they grow and decay, and use these markers to reconstruct the timing and extent of past glacial fluctuations in regions around the globe. My goal is to use glacial-geomorphic records to understand the linkages between climate and glaciation, and to learn more about Earth's climate system in the past, present, and future.

This work involves detailed surface mapping, geochronology (surface-exposure dating, radiocarbon), and synoptic assessment of palaeoclimate and geomorphic records.

My research relies heavily on field work, and includes sites in Ireland, Iceland, Peru, Uganda, Greenland, and in the Antarctic.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

  • Sak, P.B., McQuarrie, N., Oliver, B.P., Lavdovsky, N., and Jackson, M.S., Unraveling the central Appalachian fold-thrust belt, Pennsylvania: the power of sequentially restored balanced cross sections for a blind fold-thrust belt., Geosphere, 8, 2012, p685 - 702Journal Article, 2012, DOI
  • Hall, B.L., Denton, G.H., Heath, S.L., Jackson, M.S., and Koffman, T.N.B., Accumulation and marine forcing of ice dynamics in the western Ross Sea during the last┬ádeglaciation, Nature Geoscience, 8, 2015, p625 - 628Journal Article, 2015, DOI
  • Bromley, G.R.M., Schaefer, J.M., Hall, B.L., Rademaker, K.M., Putnam, A.E., Todd, C.E., Hegland, M., Winckler, G., Jackson, M.S., and Strand, P.D., A cosmogenic 10Be chronology for the local last glacial maximum and termination in the Cordillera Oriental, southern Peruvian Andes: Implications for the tropical role in global climate., Quaternary Science Reviews, 148, 2016, p54 - 67Journal Article, 2016, DOI
  • Jackson, M.S., Hall, B.L., and Denton, G.H., Asynchronous behavior of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and local glaciers during and since Termination 1, Salmon Valley, Antarctica, Earth and Planetary Science Letters , 482, 2018, p396 - 406Journal Article, 2018, DOI
  • Farnsworth, L.B., Kelly, M.A., Bromley, G.R.M., Axford, Y., Osterberg, E.C., Howley, J.A., Jackson, M.S., and Zimmerman, S.H., Holocene history of the Greenland Ice-Sheet margin in Northern Nunatarssuaq, Northwestern Greenland, Arktos, 4, (10), 2018Journal Article, 2018, DOI
  • Jackson, M.S., Kelly, M.A., Russell, J.M., Doughty, A.M., Howley, J.A., Chipman, J.W., Cavagnaro, D.B, Zimmerman, S.R.H., and Nakileza, B., High-latitude warming initiated the onset of the last deglaciation in the tropics, Science Advances, 5, (eaaw2610), 2019Journal Article, 2019, DOI
  • Balter-Kennedy, A., Bromley, G., Balco, G., Thomas, H., and Jackson, M., A 14.5 million-year record of East Antarctic Ice Sheet fluctuations from the central Transantarctic Mountains, constrained with cosmogenic 3He, 10Be, 21Ne, and 26Al, The Cryosphere, 14, 2020, p2647 - 2672Journal Article, 2020, DOI
  • Jackson, M.S., Kelly, M.A., Russell, J.M., Doughty, A.M., Howley, J.A., Cavagnaro, Baber, M.B., D.B., Zimmerman, S.R.H., and Nakileza, B., Glacial fluctuations in tropical Africa during the last glacial termination and implications for tropical climate following the Last Glacial Maximum, Quaternary Science Reviews , 243C, (106455), 2020Journal Article, 2020, DOI
  • Vickers, A.C., Shakun, J.S., Goehring, B.M., Gorin, A., Kelly, M.A., Jackson, M.S., Doughty, A.M., and Russell, J.M., Similar Holocene glaciation histories in tropical South America and Africa, Geology, (G48059), 2021Journal Article, 2021, DOI
  • Modeling glacier extents and equilibrium line altitudes in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda, over the last 31,000 yr in, editor(s)Richard B. Waitt, Glenn D. Thackray, Alan R. Gillespie , Untangling the Quaternary Period - A Legacy of Stephen C. Porter , 2021, [Doughty, A.M., Kelly, M.A., Russell, J.M., Jackson, M.S., Anderson, B.M., Chipman, J., Nakileza, B., and Dee, S.G]Book Chapter, 2021, DOI
  • Foreman, A., Bromley, G., Hall, B., and Jackson, M., Abrupt climate change in the Irish cryospheric record, Irish Quaternary Association Autumn Symposium, 2021Published Abstract, 2021
  • Kelly, M.A., Bromley, G., Doughty, A., Jackson, M.S., Cunningham, M., Ruiz-Carrascal, D., Restrepo-Moreno, S.A., Herbert, J., Farnell, A.B., Russell, J.M, Garelick, S., Nakileza, B., Kaplan, M.R., and Hidy, A., The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and Termination 1 in the tropics based on glacial extent records, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2021Published Abstract, 2021
  • Garelick, S., Russell, J., Richards, A., Smith, J., Kelly, M.A., Anderson, N., Jackson, M.S., Doughty, A.M., Nakileza, B., and Ivory, S., Impact of temperature and tropical lapse rate variations on mountain environments of Eastern Equatorial Africa since the Last Glacial Maximum, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2021Published Abstract, 2021
  • Foreman, A., Bromley, G.R.M., Hall, B.H., and Jackson, M.S., A 10Be dated record of glacial retreat in Connemara, Ireland, after the Last Glacial Maximum and implications for regional climate, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2022Journal Article, 2022, DOI
  • Garelick, S., Russell, J., Richards, A., Smith, J., Kelly, M. Anderson, N., Jackson, M.S., Doughty, A., Nakileza, B., and Ivory, S, Dynamics of warming during the last deglaciation in high-elevation regions of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Quaternary Science Reviews, 2022Journal Article, 2022, DOI
  • Jackson, M.S., Bromley, G.R.M., and Hall, B.L., Glacial fluctuations in the southwestern Wicklow Mountains, Ireland., European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 2022Published Abstract, 2022
  • Doughty, A., Kelly, M., Russell, J., Jackson, M., Anderson, B., Chipman, J.W., and Nakileza, B., Last Glacial Maximum reconstructions of Rwenzori Mountain Glaciers, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology , 2023, pe2022PA004-Journal Article, 2023, DOI
  • Jackson, M.S., Using the Quaternary record to project our future, Irish Quaternary Association Spring Symposium, 2021Invited Talk
  • Jackson, M.S., The glacial past, present, and future of the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda., University College Dublin Mountain Research Group Seminar Series, 2022Invited Talk
  • Jackson, M.S., Glacial History of the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda, 2019Thesis
  • Jackson, M.S., Bromley, G.R.M., Hall, B.L., Eaves, S.R., and Foreman, A., Mountain glacier fluctuations in the Glen of Imaal, Ireland, during the Last Glacial Maximum and Termination 1, Irish Quaternary Association (IQUA) Autumn Symposium, Maynooth, Ireland, 2022Published Abstract

Research Expertise

  • Title
    Funding Agency
    Geological Survey of Ireland
  • Title
    Life in the Currents
    "Life in the Currents" represents a novel investigation into the role of naturally driven variability in the historical and contemporary exploitation of marine life in the Northeast Atlantic. The project addresses the challenge of assessing the impacts of natural and anthropogenically driven climatic and oceanic variability on marine ecosystems, and the effects of these oceanic changes on terrestrial life and human societies. The outcome of the project is anticipated to resolve intriguing questions, such as how the ocean circulations have an impact on primary biological production and coastal geomorphologies; how does oceanic-riverine interaction affect marine ecosystems (e.g., river flooding as a control of terrestrial nutrient run-off into marine ecosystems); to what degree can variable ocean dynamics explain historical variability in fish catch documented for the past 500-hundred years and how unique are ocean circulation changes within the span of human habitation in Northeast Atlantic?
    Funding Agency
    Trinity College Dublin
  • Title
    Assessing the sensitivity of Ireland's glaciers to changing climate using paired glacial geomorphology and glaciologic modelling
    Ireland's landscape is one shaped by glaciation. While a longstanding focus of inquiry and debate, the history and evolution of Ireland's glaciers have long remained uncertain, with little chronologic control on past glacial extents beyond sparse limiting radiocarbon ages [e.g., 1]. As a result, the models used to assess past ice sheet and glacier sensitivity to changing climate conditions have not been fully 'ground truthed'. This leads to greater uncertainty regarding the response of Ireland's ice to changing climate, with implications for our understanding of local (and global) ice-sheet sensitivity to climate change, regional sea-level modeling, landscape evolution, and human settlement. Recent advances in geochemistry, particularly in cosmogenic surface-exposure dating (SED), have opened the Irish landscape to direct chronologic investigation. Through applying SED to glacial landforms, we can now determine directly the past timing and magnitude of glacial fluctuations, thus providing discrete targets (spatial and temporal) for glaciological models to match. Applications of SED in Ireland have yielded novel information on the timing of former Irish Ice Sheet (IIS) recession to the Atlantic coast [2], and have placed bounds on existing IIS models during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) [3]. However, these data remain relatively sparse, and questions remain regarding the former elevation, extent, and dynamics of the IIS following the LGM, particularly in regions inland from the coast which were presumably unaffected by local sea level changes during deglaciation. This project will target the exceptionally well-preserved glacial landscape of Slieve Carr, Co. Mayo in northwestern Ireland (Fig. 1) to assess the timing of terrestrial IIS recession in Ireland's interior northwest. Slieve Carr hosts numerous glacial moraines that can be targeted for cosmogenic beryllium-10 SED. First-hand site inspection confirms suitable lithology, and my preliminary snowline reconstructions suggest that the most extensive former ice positions preserved at Slieve Carr pre-date the late-glacial period (15-11 ka), and may date to the earliest onset of IIS recession from the region (Fig. 2). Moreover, the site is host to moraine-dammed wetlands that provide opportunity to investigate continuous sedimentary records of environmental change (Fig. 2). Should basal sediments be well preserved, they would provide indication of the timing of IIS recession from the site, and offer opportunity to produce a local beryllium-10 production rate. This would be the first such production rate from Ireland, and may constitute one of the few production rate calibrations in the world which pre-dates the late-glacial period. Based on the results of SED and sedimentary analyses, I will then use glaciological modeling to determine the climate conditions associated with dated glacial fluctuations.
    Funding Agency
    British Society for Geomorphology
    Date From
    Date To
  • Title
    The Irish Cosmogenic Nuclide Facility (ICNF): Growing Ireland"s capacity for cutting-edge cosmogenic nuclide geochronology
    Funding Agency
    Geological Survey of Ireland

Physical Geography and geosciences, Climate Research including Marine Climate Change & Oceanography, Physical Geography and geosciences, Climate Research including Marine Climate Change & Oceanography,


  • Editorial Board, Quaternary Geochronology