Lauren Burton


I am a PhD student in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, researching the climate of the Pliocene epoch and its relevance to future climate change and the 1.5°C world.

I graduated from the University of Oxford with BA Geography in 2019 and achieved a Distinction in MSc Climate Change from the University of East Anglia in 2020.

Outside of my research I am an avid swimmer and compete with the Leeds University Union Swimming and Water Polo (LUUSWP) team. I also enjoy cooking and promoting awareness of stammering as a person who has had a stammer since a young age.


2019-2020: MSc Climate Change, University of East Anglia

2016-2019: BA Geography, University of Oxford

Research Interests

My research considers the climate of the Pliocene epoch (specifically the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period, 3.205 million years ago) and what we can learn about the long-term effects of CO2 at ~400 ppmv with reference to future climate change and the 1.5°C world. I am particularly interested in the drivers of Pliocene climate change, and how these relate to drivers of current climate change.

Project Title

Palaeo constraints on the 1.5°C world: What does the Pliocene tell us about the long-term effects of atmospheric CO2 at ~400 ppmv?


Prof. Alan Haywood

Dr. Aisling Dolan

Dr. Daniel Hill

Dr. Julia Tindall


Panorama NERC DTP, 2020

Project outline

The Pliocene (5.33-2.58 million years ago) is the most recent geologic epoch where atmospheric CO2 concentrations were similar to present levels (~400 ppmv). Global mean surface air temperatures were around 2-5°C warmer than Pre-Industrial levels and global total precipitation was also increased. We can therefore use the Pliocene (and specifically the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period, 3.205 million years ago) as a natural laboratory in which to investigate future climate change, which is predominantly driven by increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and has projections of future temperature and precipitation comparable to those of the Pliocene.

In my project, I am researching the similarities and differences between the climate system of the Pliocene and of projected future climate states, particularly the 1.5°C world which nations around the world have pledged to achieve under the Paris Climate Agreement.