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The oldest Geological Society in the world, The Geological Society of London, has recognized the scientific contribution of C3W’s Dr Paul Butler, of Bangor University’s renowned School of Ocean Sciences, with the award of the 2014 Lyell Fund.

The award is made to researchers in the Earth Sciences to recognize noteworthy research published within ten years after graduation. In work carried out during his PhD and subsequently, Dr Butler has played a major part in the development of the science of shell-ring research, and has co-authored a number of notable papers on the history of marine climate change over the past millennium. He works as part of a team of world leading experts who have been developing sophisticated techniques of measuring and analysing the annual growth rings preserved in the shells of long-lived bivalve molluscs.

From left to right:   Dr Paul Butler Professor Peter Coxon, Trinity College Dublin and President of the Quaternary Research Association Professor Maureen Raymo, recipient of the Wollaston Medal, the highest award of the Geological Society, palaeoceanographer/marine geologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, USA

From left to right: Dr Paul Butler, Bangor University, Professor Peter Coxon, Trinity College Dublin and President of the Quaternary Research Association, Professor Maureen Raymo, recipient of the Wollaston Medal, the highest award of the Geological Society, Columbia University, Professor James Scourse, Director of the Climate Change Consortium of Wales

Dr Paul Butler, who received his Award on 4 June 2014 said:

“It’s immensely gratifying that the Geological Society of London has chosen to recognize our fast-developing but very new approach to the study of past climates. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with two of the leading experts in my field, Professor James Scourse and Professor Chris Richardson at the School of Ocean Sciences. It has been through my association with them, and also my access to the world class facilities at SOS, including our research vessel, the RV Prince Madog, that I have been able to carry out the research that has resulted in this award.”

Dr Butler’s work has shown how, by comparing similarities in the patterns of growth in different shells, it is possible to extend these shell archives back many hundreds of years into the past, thus providing a long-term background against which present-day changes in the marine climate can be assessed.  After creating a 500-year archive for Isle of Man waters during his PhD, Dr Butler contributed to a major collaborative investigation of European climate of the past millennium, during which a 1,350-year shell archive was developed for the North Icelandic Shelf; this archive has been used to investigate the history of the north Atlantic currents that are so important for our northwest European climate and is also the basis for ongoing work to build the first annually-resolved 1,000-year marine temperature series.

Paul Butler is currently coordinating a collaborative EU-funded project ARAMACC whose goal is to use shell archives to investigate in detail the history of marine climate of the northeast Atlantic Ocean during the past millennium. This project  will train ten PhD students, based in seven centres across Europe, in the skills associated with shell-ring research.  He is also a Research Lecturer in Sclerochronology and Scleroclimatology, funded through the Climate Change Consortium for Wales (C3W).