2009-2010 Schlanger Fellow – Leah Schneider

Leah Schneider

Pennsylvania State University

The Influence of Nannoplankton and the Oceanic Biological Pump on Eocene Climate Change



Schneider_Leah_SchlangerThe efficiency of the global oceanic biological pump (OBP) has the potential to significantly influence atmospheric pCO2 levels and, in turn, climate. During the Eocene, in one of the most pronounced cooling intervals of the Cenozoic, enhanced oceanic productivity has been suggested as a mechanism for the long-term draw down of CO2. Nannoplankton communities must have significantly contributed to the OBP during this time interval. In fact, preliminary results show that a nannofossil assemblage turnover in the early Eocene coincides with a change in the OBP. By studying nannoplankton productivity and ecology in conjunction with multiple proxies, I will determine the role of the OBP in climate regulation during the Eocene.




Originally from Nebraska, I completed my undergraduate degree in geology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While there I worked in the micropaleontology lab of Dr. David Watkins and learned basic principals about calcareous nannofossils and paleoceanography. For my senior thesis I studied global nannofossil assemblage changes during the Late Cretaceous and I grew to love it! The links between plankton fossils and oceanographic conditions absolutely fascinates me! I entered the Ph.D. program at Penn State in the fall of 2006 under the supervision of Drs. Tim Bralower and Lee Kump. My dissertation research focuses on Cenozoic calcareous nannofossil response to changes in productivity and how plankton productivity influences climate on geologic time scales. This work utilizes a combination of fossil assemblage data, modeling, geochemistry, and grain size analysis. In the summer of 2009 I had the fantastic experience of sailing on IODP Expedition 321 as a nannofossil biostratigrapher.