Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group


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The CHANGE Project

Effects and responses to changing environments in the Sub-Antarctic (CHANGE) is a three-year project funded by the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen.

Landscape view from South Georgia with Acaena magellanica growing on a river bank
Landscape view of South Georgia with Acaena magellanica (buzzy burr) growing on a river bank
Anne Bjune


In CHANGE we will study the vegetation and climate history of the Sub-Antarctic region during the Holocene period. Understanding natural variability during periods of past climate change (such as the Holocene Thermal Maximum, the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and the Little Ice Age in the Northern Hemisphere) and its effects on vegetation, can help us get a better idea of how the current climate warming affects vegetation in the remote and fragile systems on the islands of South Georgia and Kerguelen in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pollen and plant macrofossils can be analysed and used to make detailed reconstructions of the local vegetation composition. Changes in the abundance of upland and lowland species and indicator species for wet or dry environments can be used to infer the past climate. Long-distance transported pollen from neighbouring continents reaching the research sites could provide a proxy for past strength and intensity of the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies. This wind system is one of the main drivers of ocean circulation in the Southern Ocean and affects the ability of the ocean to take up atmospheric CO2.

CHANGE works together with the sister-projects SHIFTS and SOUTHSPHERE at the Department of Earth Sciences. These projects provide additional sedimentological data from the cores investigated in this study. Together this permits a multiproxy study of the sites at a high resolution.


Are you a student interested in vegetation and climate reconstructions in sub-polar regions?

Contact us! Anne Bjune or Maaike Zwier