Coupling of Ocean-Climate and Paleoecologic Change

Sediments from the sea floor record the oceanographic and climatic history of Earth's past, providing insight in the marine realm as far back in time as 280 million years. I use deep sea sedimentary records to investigate past periods of abrupt climate change, specifically ancient global warming events, such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The PETM serves as an excellent analog for evaluating the future consequences of modern climate, as it is closely linked to a rapid perturbation to the global carbon cycle. By using a mix of sedimentological and geochemical tools, I have worked to characterize how the carbonate saturation state of the ocean evolved throughout the PETM, and how fluctuations in oceanic carbonate chemistry are manifested within deep sea sedimentary records. 


In addition to understanding the ocean-atmosphere response to rapid changes in Earth's biogeochemical cycles, I also work to explore the affects of these changes on marine ecosystems. From a biotic perspective, I use a mix of modern, historic, and fossil records of marine zooplankton, primarily planktic foraminifera, to investigate the sensitivity of pelagic ecosystems to abrupt climate change. Some recent questions I've been pursuing include:

  • Do we find evidence of symbiont "bleaching" during past warming events similar to observations of modern corals? 

  • How did marine biocalcifiers, such as planktic foraminifera, cope with extreme temperature changes and ocean acidification during the ancient warm periods?

  • How sensitive are marine zooplankton communities to abrupt climate changes on varying time scales (e.g., millennial, centennial, decadal, seasonal)?

  • How are planktic foraminiferal communities responding to marine heat waves that have punctuated the last decade in the Northern California Current?


By investigating ancient and modern global carbon cycle perturbations, I hope to further inform our understanding of how our oceans, atmosphere, and marine biota will respond to Earth's rapidly evolving climate. 

Select Publications & Abstracts:​

Hupp, B.N., and Kelly, D.C., 2019, Single-shell Stable Isotope Signatures as a Taphonomic Filter: Deconvolving the Effects of Sediment

Mixing on Tropical Planktic Foraminiferal Assemblages from Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. abstract here

Hupp, B.N., Kelly, D.C., Zachos, J.C., and Bralower, T. J., 2019, Effects of Size-Dependent Sediment Mixing on Deep-Sea Records of

the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum: Geology, v. 47, p. 749-752, doi:10.1130/G46042.1. pdf here

Hupp, B.N., and Kelly, D.C., 2020, Evolving modes of carbonate diagenesis: Implications for constraining oceanic chemical

response to the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, in prep.