My PhD research project focuses on sea ice reconstructions using ice core archives. I explore traditional sea ice proxies (e.g. sodium, stable water isotopes, MSA) with the aim of generating new reconstructions of past sea ice change in the Southern Ocean over decadal-centennial timescales. For this, I am particularly focussed on the Bellingshausen and Weddell Seas, where precipitous sea ice declines have been observed in recent years. Alongside this, I am conducting research into novel sea ice proxies, in the form of biogenic organic compounds trapped in Antarctic ice. Trace organics such as fatty acids are difficult to measure in ice cores, but they hold promise as valuable tracers of past sea ice-moderated productivity.
Prior to my PhD, I completed an MRes in Polar and Alpine Change at the University of Sheffield. Here, I studied the impact of giant iceberg A68 upon the surface Scotia Sea/South Atlantic, using a remote sensing approach. Although very different from my current research, my MRes project enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of how the physical and biological conditions of the Southern Ocean sea ice zone vary through space and time. My PhD explores this further, given that the sea ice proxies I measure in Antarctic ice cores are variously sourced from the open ocean, sea ice surface, and algal blooms at the sea ice margin.
I am an active science communicator and regularly deliver outreach and public engagement activities around Cambridge and beyond. I am employed by the University of Cambridge Admissions Service as a Session Leader, delivering academic taster workshops to school groups from backgrounds that are underrepresented at Oxbridge. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to work with me on an outreach project or schools talk.
Before my MRes, I spent several years in the charity sector, working to engage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in wider learning beyond the formal curriculum. And before this, I completed a BSc in Environmental Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh.
Publications from NERC Open Research Archive
Smith, R.M. ORCID record for R.M. Smith, Bigg, G.R.. (2023) Impact of Giant Iceberg A68A on the Physical Conditions of the Surface South Atlantic, Derived Using Remote Sensing. Geophysical Research Letters, 50. 10 pp. 10.1029/2023GL104028
Protecting our planet day 2023
Event 30 November, 2023
Supergiant iceberg makes surrounding ocean surface colder and less salty
News 21 September, 2023
Ice core aquisition and analysis