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Margret Steinthorsdottir

Dr. Researcher.


Phone: +46 (0)8 519 540 04
E-mail: Margret.Steinthorsdottir@nrm.se

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B.Sc. University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2000

M.Sc. University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2003

Ph.D. University College Dublin, Ireland, 2011


Research on the role of carbon dioxide in climate variability using fossil plants. Additional duties at PAL include helping with the microfossil collections and organizing a lunch seminar series. I have been involved in teaching a variety of courses at the Department of Geology (IGV), Stockholm University. Presently this involves co-leading and teaching a distance course on “Critical steps in the evolution of Earth and Life” – designed and built by myself and a colleague at IGV.

Research Interests

The overall aim of my research is to utilize past climate change transitions as a “natural laboratory” to understand Earth’s full range of climate variability and to address the current uncertainty regarding the precise role of carbon dioxide in climate change.

I do this, firstly, by developing new high-resolution carbon dioxide records using fossil plant leaves. I apply the stomatal proxy method, which relies on the inverse relationship between carbon dioxide and the density of stomata on plant leaves to estimate past carbon dioxide and assess the radiative forcing on Earth’s climate. The inverse relationship between stomatal density and pCO2 has been repeatedly demonstrated for a wide variety of plant taxa from disparate geological and ecological settings from the Palaeozoic until today.

Secondly, I explore the physiological forcing of carbon dioxide on plant transpiration – a major component of the Earth’s hydrological cycle – using fossil plant data in numerical leaf gas-exchange models. Radiative forcing of high pCO2 has been the dominant consideration in research of global climate change, but this may underestimate the effects of rising pCO2 on e.g. fresh water availability, flooding and erosion, together with the potential significant consequences for ecosystems.

In addition, I am interested in plant-insect interactions and the use of experimental chambers to test plant responses to different atmospheric and temperature conditions.