6-2: CENOZOIC BIO-GEO-ATMOSPHERE DYNAMICS: THE LONG JOURNEY INTO THE PLEISTOCENE ICEHOUSE

Climate dynamics over the last 8-10 Ma exerted an important control on the recent global pattern of geo-ecosystems and are a key element of geologic and biologic research in A2. Using a broad set of geochemical and genetic tools we reconstruct linkages between Earth surface and evolutionary processes as an interdisciplinary approach to biosphere and geosphere research. We are interested in describing and characterizing the relevant feedbacks such as spatial and temporal evolution of terrestrial precipitation patterns and their mutual impact on ecosystem and landscape development or evolutionary (genetic) adaptation of species through e.g. rainfall seasonality or segmentation of landscapes during orogeny. We focus on the late Neogene as a key interval in Earth’s history where increasing climate variability during protracted global cooling set the stage for the development of Pleistocene „ice house“ conditions.

Key aspects of our research comprise:
• Reconstructing the climatic, topographic, and evolutionary history of key regions (Eastern Mediterranean, central Europe)
• Development of isotope geochemistry (Δ47-thermometry) and organic biomarker tools as complementary approaches to pollen-based climate reconstructions
• Co-evolution of hominids and C4-grasslands as a result of changes in atmospheric CO2 and seasonality of rainfall in Eastern Africa.

Projects