Jess began her PhD in March 2018 after completing a Bachelor of Science Advanced at the Australian National University in 2017. She received her honours in Palaeoclimatology, with Dr Nerilie Abram, looking at the variability of the Indian Ocean Dipole throughout the Last Millennium and its response to large volcanic eruptions.
Jess' project is aiming to investigate the coupled changes of sea surface temperature and rainfall variability in fossilised coral records, particularly with respect to changes in the tropical climate belt. Further understanding of past changes in the tropical climate belt is vital to understanding recent changes in the rainfall as a response to natural and human-induced climate change. Since 1979 the width of the tropics has increased by 1°-3° of latitude. This widening and associated southern shift of the subtropical high-pressure ridge over Australia has been suggested as one of the most important factors in the intensification of droughts across Southern Australia. This project will investigate whether this phenomenon has been a common occurrence throughout the last millennium, or is a result of recent climatic changes.