Holocene climatic variation in southern Alaska

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Professors Darrell Kaufman and R. Scott Anderson are working together to document the range of Holocene climatic variability in southern Alaska based on proxy climate data stored in lake sediment. Their research blends paleoecologic and isotopic analyses, glacial-geological studies at proglacial lakes, GIS-based local climatic modeling, and synoptic climatology.

The goal is to apply this complementary suite of approaches to reconstruct past winter precipitation, which in southern Alaska is positively correlated with the strength of the Aleutian low, and past summer temperature, which places recent and projected climatic warming in a long-term context.

Dr. Kaufman has been studying the Quaternary geology of Alaska for the past 20 years. During this time, his interests have evolved from longer-term records of Pleistocene climate change, i.e., those preserved in deposits left by fluctuating Pleistocene sea level and glacial ice, to higher-resolution proxy records of climate, i.e., those preserved in lake deposits, particularly glacier-fed lakes (more on Dr. Kaufman's research).

Dr. Anderson has studied vegetation history of southern Alaska since 1994. His interests include understanding the immigration of plant species into the region after the last glaciation. More recently, he has focused on late Holocene immigration of mountain hemlock (Tsugu mertensiana) and vegetation changes associated with climatic reversals, such as the late-glacial Younger Dryas period.