My Ph.D. research sought to understand the long-term drivers of climate change.
Very rarely throughout Earth’s history, the whole planet manages to plunge itself into a globally glaciated state. In particular, ~717 million years ago, Earth entered one of these dramatic “Snowball Earth” glacial events after about 1.5 billion years of relatively clement climatic conditions.
Over the past 15 million years, Earth’s climate has been cooling. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain this cooling trend, but with no consensus. The Southeast Asian islands have been emerging over the same time period, and represent an outsized contribution to modern carbon dioxide consumption.
On million year time scales, Earth’s climate mostly fluctuates between a warm ice-free state and a cooler glacial state in which finite ice caps exist at the poles.
~1000-550 million years ago, Earth witnessed several events that were critical for shaping our planet as it exists today, including the rapid evolution of microbial life and a rise in atmospheric oxygen to near-modern levels. Given that the Earth system is very sensitive to the configuration of the continents at any given time, constraining where the continents were throughout this time is critical for better understanding these important events.
Two documents that summarize (most) of my research: