Climate Research and Development

Holocene Synthesis

This map illustrates the spatial distribution and variability in temporal resolution of published proxy climate records.  In order to confidently understand Holocene abrupt climate variability in North America, high resolution records with a comprehensive spatial distribution are needed. While analysis of these records are currently being performed by this project, this map also serves as a base in guiding future research to fill in gaps spatially and temporally.  Black Circles: Sites with proxy records the span the last 2 000 years (2K), Red Circles: Sites that have low resolution through the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA), Green Circles: Sites that have a high resolution through the MCA and LIA.
This map illustrates the spatial distribution and variability in temporal resolution of published proxy climate records. In order to confidently understand Holocene abrupt climate variability in North America, high resolution records with a comprehensive spatial distribution are needed. While analysis of these records are currently being performed by this project, this map also serves as a base in guiding future research to fill in gaps spatially and temporally. Black Circles: Sites with proxy records the span the last 2 000 years (2K), Red Circles: Sites that have low resolution through the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA), Green Circles: Sites that have a high resolution through the MCA and LIA.

This project aims to collect and synthesize previously published, Holocene climate proxy records from terrestrial and coastal North America. We utilize physical, chemical, and biological climate proxy data from a variety of depositional environments, including lakes, shallow marine, wetlands, floodplains, and peat bogs, as well as speleothem and ice core data to characterize the patterns of relative and quantitative temperature and hydroclimate variations across the continent. We focus our efforts on: 1) understanding millennial-scale proxy response to climate forcing and feedbacks, 2) characterizing the timing, amplitude, and spatial propagation of change surrounding Holocene climate events and abrupt transitions (e.g. the 8.2 kyr event, mid-Holocene thermal maximum, Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age, etc.), 3) evaluating the differences in how various proxies responded to different types of forcing within a given region, and 4) comparing climate proxy reconstruction data with climate model output during the Holocene to evaluate model performance. From this work, we will identify spatial and temporal gaps in paleoclimate reconstructions and fill these voids by developing new proxy-based climate records at these critical intervals and locations.

Why is this research important?

Understanding how terrestrial environments in North America responded to natural climate forcing and feedbacks during the Holocene is vital for predicting the impacts of future climate changes. The products of this synthesis project can be used to evaluate the performance of the climate models that predict future temperature and rainfall patterns.

Project Lead:
Jessica Rodysill (Christopher Bernhardt, FY15)
Project Team:
Jason Addison, Jay Alder, Lesleigh Anderson, Lysanna Anderson, Christopher Bernhardt, Tom Cronin, Steve Hostetler, Miriam Jones, Daniel Muhs, Gregory Pederson, Jeff Pigati, Julie Richey, Laura Strickland, Robert Thompson, David Wahl, John Barron, Michael Toomey, Debra Willard, Claire Treat, Scott Starratt, Nancy Prouty

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