Past and Present Climate Change
Why Study Past and Present Climate Change?
The climate system is always changing. The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and frozen Earth are interlinked in feedback loops that both amplify and diminish global change. By studying climate changes, we learn how these feedbacks operate, allowing us to investigate the response of the climate system to factors that cause it to change. By studying climate changes of the past, we can take advantage of the natural experiments that the Earth has already conducted to investigate how ecosystems change with climate. By studying past and recent changes in the carbon reservoirs, we can better identify important carbon-cycle feedbacks and how they might affect future climate. This understanding can be used to test and improve our predictive models. Models that include both natural and human factors will no doubt give more accurate projections.
Faculty and Research Staff
Our research into Past and Present Climate Change addresses scientific
- How does the climate system change on decadal to
millennial time scales as it responds to natural and anthropogenic forcings?
- How can we improve earth-system models, especially
models used to foresee the effects of climate change, by using real-world data?
- How will the terrestrial biosphere respond to (and
influence) future climate and changes in atmospheric CO2
We are developing leading-edge approaches to:
- Developing and analyzing major databases of long-term
climate to better characterize past changes and to compare with the output of Earth
system models to investigate climate-system variability and change.
- Creating the next generation reconstructions of
long-term climate change from sedimentary records by exploiting new numerical
models that encode a process-based understanding of earth-system interactions.
- Quantifying the sensitivity of terrestrial biosphere
to climate extremes, changing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and
other environmental drivers.
- Evaluating models to identify which features are most
important to improve for future carbon cycle and coupled carbon-climate
News About Our Recent WorkDegree ProgramsOpportunities For Students
- Anderson, R. Scott; Professor (Paleoecology, Forest History)
- Fortin, David; Postdoctoral Research (Arctic Lakes and Catchments)
- Huntzinger, Deborah; Assistant Professor (Land-atmosphere Carbon Dynamics, Carbon Capture and Storage)
- Kaufman, Darrell; Regents' Professor (Paleoclimate, Quaternary Geochronology)
- McKay, Nicholas; Assistant Professor (Climate Dynamics, Paleoclimate)
- Routson, Cody; Postdoctoral Researcher (Extreme Hydroclimate Events)
- Schwalm, Christopher; Assistant Research Professor (Land-atmosphere Interactions)
- Wade, Jennifer; Assistant Research Professor (Carbon Capture and Storage)
- Whitacre, Katherine; Laboratory Manager
Research LaboratoriesCurrent ProjectsRelated Groups at NAUCollaborative Research Groups and Laboratories Outside NAURelevant Graduate-level Courses (in SESES)
- Our research
laboratories (see below) often have openings for
undergraduate students to get involved in research related to Past and Present
Climate Changes. The positions are usually paid with flexible working
schedules. We encourage students to contact us to express your interest.
- Arcticglacial lakes, catchment and climate: We invite applications for graduate students to join
a new three-year NSF-funded project focusing on glacial-lacustrine
sedimentation to investigate past and future climate change. Three
assistantships are available at the MS and PhD levels. Students will develop
complementary projects aimed at understanding the major processes that govern
sedimentation in Arctic lakes in glaciated catchments. New glacier, hydrology,
limnology, and sediment modern-process studies will provide the input data to
calibrate and test process-based earth system models. Students will be involved
in Arctic fieldwork, where they will gain a more comprehensive understanding of
how glaciers, hydrology, and lakes relate to the Arctic system.
- Carbon cycle
science and biogeochemical modeling:
We invite applicants for a graduate students to work on Phase II of the North American Carbon Program (NACP) Multi-scale synthesis and Terrestrial ModelIntercomparison Project (MsTMIP). One assistantship is available at the PhD level. The
MsTMIP is focused on improving the diagnosis, attribution and prediction of
carbon exchange at global scales using an ensemble of hindcast and forecast
model simulations. The student will work on analyzing the response (and
sensitivity) of models to past and future climatic conditions in the context of
climate extremes (e.g., drought). The goal is to identify the model refinements
needed to improve carbon cycle simulation and to quantify potential biases in
predictive/future model simulations. The student working on this project
will have the opportunity to engage with the broader terrestrial biosphere
modeling community in a large, collaborative, multi-institutional effort.
- ENV 450/550 Historical Ecology
- ENV 591 Science & Management of Greenhouse Gases
- ENV 595 Global Climate Change
- ENV 675 Topics in Environmental Discourse
- EES 580 Climate Dynamics
- EES 680 Earth & Environmental Data Analysis
- EES 596 Quaternary Climate Change
- GLG 537 Quaternary Geology
- GLG 637 Quaternary Geochronology