The EPHE laboratory "Paleoceanography and Marine Paleoenvironments" was founded in 1994 by Jean-Pierre Peypouquet. Since then the laboratory is a part of the Department of Geology and Oceanography, University Bordeaux 1, now called UMR EPOC. Jean-Pierre Peypouquet acted as head of the laboratory till his retirement in 2007. Maria Fernanda Sanchez Goñi, recruted as EPHE lecturer in 2000, became professsor and was appointed head of the laboratory in 2007. In 2009, the laboratory recruited a new lecturer, Stéphanie Desprat, and in 2011 Ludovic Devaux joined the team as technician. In 2019 a new lecturer has been recruited, Johan Etourneau, an expert in the study of lipid biomarkers in marine, lake and guano sediment cores, to work on the biogeochemical cycles and their relationship with past climate change. Between 2000 and 2020 sixteen; postdoctoral investigators and temporary lecturers, two associated adjunct professors, eight PhD students, and twenty one Master students conducted research at the laboratory.
Originally built on the desire to explore a variety of topics in paleoceanography, the laboratory has now a broader mission: to understand how the climate system works by developing and applying marine palynology and specific lipid biomarkers. Marine palynology is the study of terrestrial climatic indicators (pollen and microcharcoal particles) preserved in marine sediments. Specific lipid biomarkers correspond to molecular compounds (e.g. alkenones, chlorins, n-alkanes, fatty-acids, GDGT and HBI) mostly synthesized by marine and terrestrial primary producers. These approaches allow the establishment of a direct correlation, without any chronological ambiguity, between the response of the different Earth’s reservoirs of the climate system (continental and marine biospheres, hydrosphere, notably the oceans, atmosphere and ice dynamics) to a given climate change. To highlight this new research interest the laboratory was renamed in 2007 "Paleoclimatology and Marine Paleoenvironments". Our research has been mainly funded by French (CNRS-INSU, ANR) and international (ERC, ESF, NERC, PHC) programs.
Current research topics:
• Abrupt climates with particular attention to the timing and nature of vegetation in response to changes in the hydrological cycle.
• Glacial – Interglacial climate variability: length, amplitude and variability of interglacials, and the mechanisms of deglaciation and glacial inception.
• Climate changes and their impact on human populations in Europe and South Africa.
• Past warm climate periods (Mid-Pliocene, Mid-Miocene, Early Eocene, Paleocene-Eocene): interconnections between biosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and oceans and their feedback mechanisms
• The Holocene and the last 2,000 years as a baseline of the current global climate warming
• Pollen morphometry.
• New biomarker development
• Regions of interest: Europe including the Mediterranean basin, North America, South Africa, Peru, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, Brazil, Eastern Asia, and Gulf of Bengale.