Paper pride... by Jack Lacey

We proudly invited Jack, star blogger and PhD student at CEG (Centre for Environmental Geochemistry), to write about his very first lead authorship paper because it's a great academic and personal achievement worthy of cake, bubbles and blogging! So please welcome Jack to outline the research and conclusions of his online paper "A high-resolution Late Glacial to Holocene record of environmental change in the Mediterranean from Lake Ohrid (Macedonia/Albania)"...

The first year of my PhD was initially meant to involve fieldwork at Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, coring through over a million years of sediments that had accumulated in the lake and through various geochemical analysis can provide information about past Mediterranean history. However, there was unfortunately a delay at the start of the operation. This meant I had the opportunity to work on a shorter core (the ‘Lini’ core) from Lake Ohrid that dates back to when glaciers retreated from the area (the last ice age transition) from 12,000 years ago to the present day. I have used the sediments to investigate how the climate and environment in and around the lake has changed over this time.

I took samples of the core sediment for analysis at intervals of around 2 decades and this provides one of the highest resolution lake sediment records for the region. This enables me to see the progression of environmental change through decadal and centennial trends.

The results show that since the retreat of glaciers from the area there have been three main types of climate. The first is a transitionary period where cold winters and cooler summers coming out of the ice age gradually give way to a warmer climate more conducive to plants, animals and people living in the region. The numbers of plants within the lake and surrounding area especially increases to a maximum over this time as temperatures and rainfall increased and conditions become more favourable. In the last few centuries human activity impacts the record due to local forest clearance and enhanced agriculture. In particular more soils are washed into the lake causing algae to bloom.

The data from the Lini core will act as a modern calibration for the deeper cores drilled as part of the SCOPSCO project in Spring 2013, and set the scene for a climatic and environmental reconstruction over the entire 1.2 million-year lake history. I am currently working my way through this time period, and hope to discover how climate forced evolutionary change of the plants and animals in the lake

By Jack Lacey, @JackHLacey (BGS funded student at the University of Nottingham)