Climate Research and Development

Holocene Hydroclimate of Western North America

Project scientists and collaborators obtain lake sediment cores from the lake ice in Alaska in early spring.  Geochemical climate proxies obtained from lake sediments document climate change and impacts over the past ~10,000 years and provide a long-term context to more fully understand past, ongoing and future change. (photo: Lesleigh Anderson)
Project scientists and collaborators obtain lake sediment cores from the lake ice in Alaska in early spring. Geochemical climate proxies obtained from lake sediments document climate change and impacts over the past ~10,000 years and provide a long-term context to more fully understand past, ongoing and future change. (photo: Lesleigh Anderson)

The objective of this project are to reconstruct detailed histories of Holocene hydroclimate and corresponding environmental change from lake sediment climate proxies to more fully understand past, ongoing and future change and its impacts.

Study sites for this research are located in the intermountain regions of western North America, including Alaska. The overarching research goal is to develop a spatial network of hydroclimatic records for the past ~10,000 years (The Holocene) that have the ability to detect climate change on decade-to-century time scales. These data are used to investigate past large-scale atmosphere-ocean dynamics that are known to currently influence western U.S. water availability. Several proxy methods are utilized with primary emphasis on isotope geochemistry of lake sediments, fossil moss and wood. Results lead to better understanding of the full range of potential climate states during the most recent period in earth's history with similar global boundary conditions as the pre-industrial period.

Why is this research important?

Documenting past climate, landscapes and ecosystems provides the necessary long-term context to better understand the changes in earth systems taking place today. This project provides a comparable long-term perspective of water availability. Examples of questions addressed by this project are:

Project Lead:
Lesleigh Anderson
Project Team:
Max Berkelhammer (Univ. Illinois Chicago), Robert S. Thompson (USGS), John Barron (USGS), Bruce Finney (Idaho State Univ.), M. Alisa Mast (USGS), Mark Abbott (Univ. of Pittsburgh), Byron Steinman (Univ. Minnesota, Duluth), Andrea Brunelle (Univ. of Utah)

12 publications matching the specified parameters were found.

Berkelhammer, M., Stefanescu, I., Joiner, J. and Anderson, L., 2017, High sensitivity of gross primary production in the Rocky Mountains to summer rain, Geophysical Research Letters.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/2016GL072495

Anderson, L., Berkelhammer, M.,and Mast, M.A., 2016, Isotopes in North American Rocky Mountain Snowpack 1993-2014: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 131, p. 262-273.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.03.023

Jones, M.D., Dee, S., Anderson, L., Baker, A., Bowen, G., and Noone, D.C., 2016, Water isotope systematics: Improving our palaeoclimate interpretations: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 131, p. 243-249.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.11.014

Anderson, L., Brunelle, A., and Thompson, R.S., 2015, A multi-proxy record of hydroclimate, vegetation, fire, and post-settlement impacts for a subalpine plateau, central Rocky Mountains, USA: The Holocene, v. 25, p. 932-943.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683615574583

Anderson, R.S., Jimenez-Moreno, G., Ager, T., and Porinchu, D.F., 2014, High-elevation paleoenvironmental change during MIS 6-4 in the central Rockies of Colorado as determined from pollen analysis: Quaternary Research, v. 82, no. 3, p. 542-552.

Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Mann, M.E., Ortiz, J.D., Feng, S., Pompeani, D.P., Stansell, N.D., Anderson, L., Finney, B.P., and Bird, B.W., 2014, Ocean-atmosphere forcing of centennial hydroclimate variability in the Pacific Northwest: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 41, no. 7, p. 2553-2560.

Wahl, D., Byrne, R., and Anderson, L., 2014, An 8700 year paleoclimate reconstruction from the southern Maya lowlands: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 103, p. 19-25.

Anderson, L., Birks, J., Rover, J., and Guldager, N., 2013, Controls on recent Alaskan lake changes identified from water isotopes and remote sensing: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, no. 13, p. 3413-3418.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/grl.50672

Anderson, L., 2012, Rocky Mountain Hydroclimate: Holocene variability and the role of insolation, ENSO, and the North American Monsoon: Global and Planetary Change, v. 92-93, p. 198-208.

Anderson, L., 2011, Holocene record of precipitation seasonality from lake calcite-δ18O in the central Rocky Mountains, U.S.A.: Geology v. 39, p. 211-214.

Anderson, L., Finney, B.P., and Shapley, M.D., 2011, Lake carbonate-δ18O records from the Yukon Territory, Canada: Little Ice Age moisture variability and patterns: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 30, no. 7, p. 887-898.

Barron, J.A., and Anderson, L., 2011, Enhanced Late Holocene ENSO/PDO expression along the margins of the eastern North Pacific: Quaternary International, v. 235, no. 1, p. 3-12.