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Collaborative Research: Millennial-length histories of NE Pacific Climate Variability from Bivalve Mollusks and Trees

Sponsored by National Science Foundation

$639.5K Funding
3 People

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The general goal of this project is to produce a continuous, annually resolved, and millennial-length marine climate history of the northeast Pacific Ocean region using a combination of data from paleoclimate proxies involving growth increments of the marine bivalve Pacific geoduck (Panopea generosa), tree-ring chronologies, and tropical coral growth-increment records. Climate variability in the region plays a fundamental role in the socioeconomic and environmental dynamics of western North America with clearly established implications for fisheries production, forest growth, wildfire, drought, and snowpack. Over the past decade, the region has experienced repeated and extreme heatwaves that profoundly impacted marine ecosystems and adjacent terrestrial systems. Yet, considerable uncertainty exists as to northeastern Pacific climate variability prior to the 1900s and the extent to which current climate is atypical. Foremost, this research aims to reconstruct northeast Pacific Ocean sea-surface temperatures as a significant forcing mechanism of climate and climate variability in Earth?s climate system but which is relatively poorly constrained by instrumental observations, paleoclimate data, and general climate circulation models. This project seeks to address lingering questions regarding poor agreement among earlier tree-ring reconstructions and the possibility of time variant linkages across marine and terrestrial systems. Moreover, long-term relationships between the extratropical and tropical Pacific region will be assessed by integrating coral records and existing reconstructions of the El Ni�o Southern Oscillation. Northeastern Pacific paleoclimate reconstructions may yield unique benchmarks for comparison among paleoclimate records, modern observations, and model datasets of hemispheric climate from interannual to centennial timescales. The potential Broader Impacts (B.I.) include development of a potential high-impact climate proxy, support for a doctoral student, development of a dendrochronology course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) for undergraduate students, installation of exhibits into the lobbies of the tree-ring-research dept and in Biosphere2, training of docents, and building a Youtube channel of videos regarding quantitative paleoclimate techniques. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.