Dr Ruza Ivanovic

Dr Ruza Ivanovic


I am a palaeoclimate modeller interested in the physical climate system (atmosphere, ice sheets and oceans) and the carbon cycle. I use general circulation models and isotope geochemistry to understand climate-ice-ocean-carbon interactions at a fundamental level to determine the drivers of observed past changes. The primary focus of my research is to investigate mechanisms of abrupt climate change during transitions to warmer, higher CO2 worlds. For this, I use versions of the UK Met Office's Unified Model (e.g. FAMOUS and HadCM3) and ice sheet models (Glimmer-CISM and BISICLES).

In the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, I co-lead the Climate-Ice Research Group; and am a part of the Physical Climate Change; Leeds Quaternary and Palaeo@Leeds Research Groups; which are within the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (ICAS) and the Earth Surface Science Institute (ESSI).

Internationally, I lead the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) Last Deglaciation Working Group and the new INQUA International Focus Group on Terminations 5-0, and I am a member of the CLIVAR Atlantic Region Panel.


  • Co-leader of the Climate-Ice Research Group
  • Environment Stream Link Tutor for Natural Science Degree Programme

Research interests

I am particularly interested in climate-ice sheet-ocean interactions taking place during past deglaciations (when large ice sheets melted, sea levels rose and climate warmed). As well as the long term (~10 ka) transitions from cold glacial conditions to the warm interglacial period, these periods encompasses several abrupt climate changes (annual-centennial), including:

  • The onset of Heinrich Stadials, when Northern Hemisphere temperatatures cooled and Atlantic ocean circulation slowed
  • Heinrich Events, when armadas of icebergs rafted out across the North Atlantic
  • Abrupt warming and sudden strenghtening of Atlantic Ocean circulation (including the Bolling Warming, when Northern Hemisphere temperatures rose by as much as 10 degrees C in just a few decades)
  • Rapid sea level rises (i.e. ‘Meltwater pulses’), including Meltwater Pulse 1a, which is the fastest major sea level rise ever recorded (global sea level rose by 12-22 m in less than 350 years)
  • Cold reversals that bucked the ambient warming trend, such as the Antarctic Cold Reversal (Southern Hemisphere cooling), the Younger Dryas (Norhtenr Hemisphere cooling and glacial readvance), and the 8.2 kyr event (when catastrophic freshwater drainage from North America disrupted Atlantic Ocean circulation and caused widespread cooling, probably as a result of ice sheet collapse)
  • ~15 ppmv jumps in atmospheric CO2, likely from the sudden release of carbon stored in the deep ocean

My work focuses on understanding the triggers for these events, their impact on climate, and the role of ice sheets and the oceans in the surface climate changes.

A key component of this work is the use of geochemical tracers of ocean circulation to understand past changes in ocean circulation. To best use these tools, I am supervising the implementation of the following tracers in the ocean component of the UM version 4.5 climate model (HadCM3 and FAMOUS):

  • Carbon-13 isotopes (δ13C): productivity and remineralisation (nutrients): COMPLETED
  • Carbon-14 isoptopes (D14C): water age: COMPLETED
  • Neodymium isotopes (eNd): water provenance: UNDERWAY
  • Protactinium and Thorium isotopes (213Pa/230Th): circulation kinematics: NEXT PRIORITY

The coupled model (atmosphere and ocean) also includes oxygen isotopes and deuterium (δ18O, δD).

Funded research projects:

  • Constraining projections of ice sheet instabilities and future sea level rise, 2019-
  • Collaborative Research: Terrestrial hydrology during the last deglaciation, NSF, 2019-
  • Forward modelling of past abrupt climate transitions, NERC (NE/K008536/1), 2013-2018
  • Pliocene gateways, NERC (NE/J012726/1), 2012-2013
  • Mediterranean Outflow Water and the Messinian Salinity Crisis, University of Bristol Centenary Scholarship, 2009-2012


Postdoctoral Researchers:

  • Lachlan Astfalk
  • Niall Gandy
  • Julia Tindall


PhD projects:

See latest info about the Panorama Doctoral Training Partnership.


  • Andrew Mair (co-supervisor; Oct 2017-): Signals of the ice age in the tropics - new records from the Uruguayan Margin.
  • Suzanne Robinson (primary supervisor; Oct 2018-): Is Atlantic Ocean Circulation Collapsing?
  • Yvan Rome (primary supervisor; Oct 2019): The ice age, oceans and climate: triggers of iceberg calving and rapid temperature change.
  • Richard Fewster (co-supervisor, Oct 2019): The climate space of permafrost peatlands

Previous group members:

  • Brooke Snoll (MRes; 2019-2020): Abrupt climate change in transient simulations of the last deglaciation: A new mechanism
  • Jennifer Dentith (PhD; Oct 2015-2019): Abrupt climate transitions and geological tracers of ocean circulation.
  • Steven George (PDRA, Oct-Dec 2019): Constraining projections of ice sheet instabilities and future sea level rise.
  • Ella Wingard (Summer undergraduate placement; Jun-July 2018): Climate fingerprints of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation.
  • Ilkka Matero (PhD; Oct 2014-2018): North American ice sheet collapse and abrupt climate change during the 8.2 kyr event.
  • Rhian Rees-Owen (PhD; Oct 2012-2016): Antarctic Climate and vegetation during the Neogene: a geochemical and modelling approach.
  • Jamie Boyd (PhD; Oct 2012-2016): Global and regional assessment of Neogene climate and palaeoceanography using dinoflagellate cysts.
  • Andrea Nicodemou (MRes; Oct 2010-2011): Reconstructing ocean circulation with neodymium isotopes in planktonic foraminigera.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Bristol
  • BSc, University of Bristol
  • FHEA (Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy under the UK Professional Standards Framework)

Professional memberships

  • Leader of the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) Last Deglaciation Working Group (2013-)
  • Leader of the INQUA International Focus Group on Terminations 5-0
  • CLIVAR (Climate and Ocean – Variability, Predictability, and Change) Atlantic Region Panel member (2015-2019)
  • NERC Independent Research Fellow (2013-2018)
  • Lifelong member of the European Geosciences Union (EGU, 2018-)
  • Lifelong member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU, 2017-)

Student education

At Leeds, I lecture, deliver practical activities and carry out field-teaching for various modules on the science of climatology and climate change, oceanography, past environmental change, Quaternary systems and meteorology. I lead several of these modules, have redeveloped/am currently redeveloping teaching across two core research programmes (Environmental Sciences and Geology). In addition, I am part of the academic and personal tutorial team in the Schools of Earth of Environment and Geography, and I supervise under/postgraduate dissertation projects and undergraduate research experience placements.

I also teach at international summer schools for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, including: Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology (Urbino, Italy); MINSC-CO2 React Marie Curie Training Networks (Florence, Italy); Geosciences for Early Career Researchers (Nanjing, China)

Research groups and institutes

  • Climate Science and Impacts
  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science
  • Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Palaeo@Leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>