Jennifer Stanford is a lecturer in Physical Geography at Swansea University and heads the Geography Foundation Year. Her key research interests include sea-level and climate change over millennial to 100,000 yr time-scales. During her PhD and post-doctoral research, she relished the task of trying to unpick the sequence of events that led to Heinrich Events. These were quasi-periodic, abrupt climatic anomalies that occurred during the ice-ages, when the large ice-sheets that covered much of North America and Europe disintegrated. Just like today around Antarctica and Greenland, when the ice-sheets collapsed sea-level rose and the ocean waters became less salty, impacting on global climate. In order to try to decipher the numerous 'chicken or egg' relationships in different climate/sea-level records, accurate determination of dating uncertainties was needed. Jennifer therefore developed a modelling technique to provide a probabilistic estimate of global sea-level for the past 24 thousand years.
After publication of a key paper in 2011, she is now working with a team of statisticians and Earth modellers, to refine this estimate. A key part of Jennifer's research involves analysing mud cores from the sea-floor. By looking at the types of microfossils contained within this mud, along with their geochemistry and additionally, the physical properties of the grains within the mud, past ocean currents can be reconstructed. However, she has recently been developing a new strand of research which aims to investigate the impacts of giant landslides on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and hence also climate.
In July 2014, Jennifer spent a month coring a series of landslide deposits in the Norwegian Sea, and with the scientific team recovered 10.5 tonnes of sediment to analyse (http://noc.ac.uk/news/slides-deep-expedition-blog-now-live). She has worked with collaborative groups (e.g., RAPID and RESET) and am part of wider scientific networks (e.g., QRA, INTIMATE and PALSEA). Jennifer is keen to promote scientific outreach, and as such she oversees outreach for the European Geosciences Union (EGU) division for Climate: Past, Present and Future. She is also one of the Swansea finalists for Famelab, and believe that it is so important to inspire both Swansea University students, and the wider public alike, to gain a deeper understanding of the science of climate. At the time when Jennifer crashed into her PhD supervisor's car, she had no idea that she would gain such a passion for climate science or even that she would study it for a PhD – it's funny how chances come along!