Year of selection 2011
Institution Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
If one of your dreams is to spend your holidays on the Gulf of California, you should plan your trip as soon as possible! Indeed, you may not be aware of it, but this beautiful region, listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, is extremely responsive to global warming and is one of the most rapidly changing areas on Earth. The challenge of Dr. Loïc Barbara’s postdoctoral research is to understand why this is so. This is a crucial question, as global warming could change the extraordinary biodiversity of the Gulf and threaten several fish species, which would in turn impact the fishing industry. The latter plays an important role in the Mexican economy and provides work to many people in the area.
For his study, Dr. Barbara will work on a reconstruction of environmental changes in the southern part of the Gulf of California over the last 6,000 years. The originality of his project stems from the comprehensive analyses of sediment records that he will conduct. Dr. Barbara will apply robust dating techniques and will use diatoms, which are microscopic algae fossilised in sediments. Each diatom species lives under specific conditions, e.g. at a given temperature, thus providing valuable information on the environmental conditions during its lifetime. Dr. Barbara will also carry out chemical analyses on sediment cores in order to study past rainfalls and river discharges in this region.
By investigating the past evolution of environmental conditions in the Gulf of California, Dr. Barbara hopes to unravel interactions between the ocean, the atmosphere and the biosphere at different time scales. His work might bring a significant contribution to the scientific community working on the Gulf of California and particularly to scientists from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes). His findings could also contribute to the Mexican National Agenda on Climate Change, a program created by the Mexican government and aimed at adapting the country to changing environmental conditions, by providing information for regional climate prediction models.
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