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David A. Hodell

David A. Hodell
David A. Hodell

The 2018 Milutin Milankovic Medal is awarded to David A. Hodell for fundamental contributions to reconstructing and understanding past climate cycles and the causes of the mid-Pleistocene transition.

David Hodell obtained his PhD in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island (USA) and is now a Professor of Geology at the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge University. For over 30 years, Hodell has consistently contributed to our physical understanding of past climatic cycles. He has produced numerous landmark climate reconstructions from both marine and lacustrine sediment cores which have elucidated the underlying mechanisms of orbital and suborbital-scale variability. He has conducted pioneering research using carbon isotopes of benthic foraminifera that helped to decipher the dynamics of past deep-water circulation changes in the Southern Ocean. With these works, Hodell greatly improved our knowledge about the mechanisms of past changes in atmospheric CO2. His studies on long carbon isotope records demonstrated that past changes in deep and intermediate water CO2 storage played a key role in the evolution of atmospheric CO2 and Earth´s climate.

Hodell also developed a novel technique for identifying Heinrich events originating from Hudson Strait and discovered that these first occurred in the North Atlantic at 650ka, demonstrating for the first time that a fundamental change in ice sheet dynamics coincided with the end of the mid-Pleistocene transition. He also demonstrated that millennial-scale climate variability was not only a prominent feature of early Quaternary, but was of similar amplitude, shape and spacing as that of the late Pleistocene ’100 kiloyear world’. Hodell’s work provided the first evidence, recorded in lake sediment cores on the Yucatan Peninsula, for a period of increased drought frequency and intensity between 800 and 1000 AD, coinciding with the demise of the Maya civilisation during the Terminal Classic Period. This work provided some of the best evidences of the influence of climate change on past civilisations.

Hodell led several drilling and coring expeditions to the Southern Ocean, including Cruise TN057 and Ocean Drilling Program Leg 177. He has studied an unusually broad range of problems and published over 200 high-quality papers, which left a long-lasting impact in the field of palaeoclimate research. He is also at the forefront of developing novel methods in palaeoceanography.