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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
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    Professor Alex Piotrowski

    01223 333473
    Murray Edwards College
    CB3 0DF

    Professorial Fellow in Earth Sciences; Director of Studies; Executive Postgraduate Tutor

    Natural Sciences (Physical)


    Degrees and honours

    PhD  Columbia University, New York, USA. 

    Masters Degree  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

    Awards and prizes

    Keynote Speaker, 2016 Goldschmidt Conference, Yokohama Japan


    The primary thrust of my research is to understand the link between ocean circulation and climate over recent earth history.  The global ocean overturning is an important component of the earth’s climate system because the deep ocean hosts a large reservoir of carbon dioxide that exchanges with the atmosphere on short timescales, and its circulation also transports heat across the face of the planet.  I am specifically interested in reconstructing changes in deep water mass source and structure and determining how these are linked with changes in deep ocean nutrient contents and overturning rate.  

    My research group at Cambridge uses radiogenic isotopes, including those of Nd and Pb, and other geochemical tools, in marine sediment samples at globally distributed sites to gain a wider view of past ocean geochemistry.   A number of my studies have used Nd isotopes to examine South Atlantic deep water sourcing changes during deglacial circulation changes (Piotrowski et al., 2004 EPSL), glacial–interglacial transitions (Piotrowski et al., 2005, Science), and glacial millennial-scale variability (Piotrowski et al., 2008, EPSL).  My research group is measuring Nd isotopes records at other key locations in the deep ocean, including the North Atlantic studies (Piotrowski et al., EPSL 2012; Elmore et al., 2010), deep Indian Ocean (Piotrowski et al., 2009, EPSL, Wilson et al., EPSL 2011), and Pacific (Elderfield et al. Science, 2012, Hu et al., EPSL in press). 


    Piotrowski, A.M., Goldstein, S.L., Hemming, S.R., and Fairbanks, R.G., (2005) “Temporal relationships of carbon cycling and ocean circulation at glacial boundaries”, Science 307, 5717, 1933-1938. 

    Roberts, N.L., Piotrowski, A.M., McManus, J., Keigwin, L., (2010) Synchronous deglacial overturning and water mass source changes, Science, 327 (5961). pp. 75-78.

    Piotrowski A.M., Galy, A., Nicholl, J.A.L., Roberts, N.L., Wilson, D.J.,Clegg, J., and Yu, J., (2012), Reconstructing deglacial North and South Atlantic deep water source using foraminiferal Nd isotopes, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 357-358, 289-297

    Elderfield, H., Ferretti P., Greaves, M., Crowhurst, S., McCave, I.N.,Hodell, D., Piotrowski, A.M., (2012), Evolution of ocean temperature and ice volume from the Mid Pleistocene Climate Transition, Science 337, 704, DOI:10.1126/science.1221294.

    Wilson, D.J., Piotrowski A.M., Galy, A., Banakar, V.K., (2015) “Interhemispheric controls on deep ocean chemistry and circulation during glaciation”, Paleoceanography. 2014PA002707. ISSN 1944-9186 DOI 10.1002/2014PA002707