The 2013 Hans Oeschger Medal is awarded to Miryam Bar-Matthews in recognition of her pioneering contribution and leadership in the field of terrestrial palaeoclimate change using high resolution cave speleothem records, and for her outstanding contribution to our understanding of the climatic and environmental context of human history and pre-history.
Miryam Bar-Matthews obtained her PhD in geology from the University of Jerusalem and is currently a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Israel. The Hans Oeschger Medal is awarded in recognition of her pioneering contribution and leadership in the field of terrestrial palaeoclimate change in the last 250 thousand years using high resolution cave speleothem records, as well as for her outstanding contribution to our understanding of the climatic and environmental context of human history and pre-history.
Her studies of the Soreq Cave have become a benchmark for speleothem palaeoclimate studies in the Middle East. Bar-Matthews’ speleothem work has developed and expanded over the years to include new questions on climate change and the use of accurately dated speleothem records as a critical archive of climate variability. Her great contributions over the past decade have been truly inspirational and have had enormous impact on our ability to reconstruct well-dated, highly resolved continental palaeoclimate records. Her pioneering contributions to develop the scientific rationale and methodologies that currently underpin the use of speleothems as palaeoclimate archives globally have been exceptional.
Bar-Matthews convincingly demonstrated links between speleothem-based reconstructions and the longer established marine core records in the eastern Mediterranean, thereby reinforcing the utility and reliability of the more recently developed speleothem archives. Importantly, she has demonstrated how speleothem records can be used to reconstruct critical changes in the regional hydrological cycle, with clear implications for our understanding of rapid aridification/desertification processes and their impact on human settlement and migration patterns.
Just as Hans Oeschger was a pioneer in ice-core research and its use as past environmental information, Myriam Bar-Matthews is a pioneer in speleothem records and its use in reconstructing critical environmental changes, including rapid events impacting human history.