The Department of Paleoceanography is focused on the past climate and oceanography changes of the shelf and deepwater ecosystems. These studies include the multidimensional reconstruction of postglacial ocean circulation, sea-surface and bottom-water temperature and salinity, water-column stratification and bottom currents intensity in the Nordic Seas. The understanding of past ocean variability defines the baseline for natural climate change helping us to set the changes observed recently in the long-term natural climate context. As a consequence, it helps to improve the global climate models enabling more precise climate projections for the future.
Our team uses a broad range of classical micropaleontological proxies, such as benthic and planktonic foraminifera and dinoflagellate cysts. We also use a set of innovative methods, including analyses of foraminiferal ancient DNA as well as alkenones (a persistent organic substance produced by coccolithophores). Furthermore, we conduct studies on chemical organic compounds to track climate change impact on productivity, organic matter sources, phytoplankton composition and oxygen conditions in various marine environments such as the Baltic Sea, Norwegian and Svalbard fjords and Nordic Seas. The studied compounds include e.g. phytoplankton pigments (chloropigments and carotenoids), alkanes, isoprenoids, hopanes, steranes, sterols, stanols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Finally, we study modern marine environments and processes to improve methods used for paleoceanographic reconstructions.

Prof. Marek ZajÄ…czkowski
head of the department
Research Topics:
  • Late Quaternary reconstruction of oceanographic conditions in the Nordic and Baltic Seas.
  • Foraminifera as indicators of environmental changes and their contribution to the carbon pool.
  • Reconstruction of Late Quaternary surface and deepwater circulation in the Nordic Seas.
  • Sedimentation processes in the Arctic fjords and shelves, and in the Baltic Sea.
  • Organic compounds as markers of different processes in the marine environments.
  • Biomarkers as qualitative proxies of sea surface temperatures, paleoproductivity, and sea ice.
  • Climate change impact on sea productivity, organic matter sources, phytoplankton composition, carbon burial, and oxygen conditions.
  • Development of novel approaches in environmental studies based on chemical proxies.
  • Application of environmental (eDNA) analysis for reconstructing past climate and environmental changes.
  • Development of eDNA tests for the biomonitoring of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Assessment of benthic and planktonic marine biodiversity based on DNA barcoding and metabarcoding.
  • Molecular systematics, biogeography and genetic diversity of foraminifera and other protists.