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Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development Program

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Bernhardt, C.E., 2011. Native Americans, regional drought, and tree island evolution in the Florida Everglades. The Holocene, vol. 21, 967-978.

Willard, D., Bernhardt, C., Brown, R., Landacre, B., and Townsend, P., 2010. Pollen-based paleohydrologic reconstructions from late Holocene forested wetlands: Lower Roanoke River Basin, North Carolina, United States. The Holocene, published online: DOI:10.1177/095968383610378876.

Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain Climate Variability

Sediments from forested wetlands in the coastal plain act as an archive of climate variability and land use change.
Sediments from forested wetlands in the coastal
plain act as an archive of climate variability and
land use change.
This project is designed to generate high-resolution proxy records of late Holocene climate variability in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, USA. In this region, most pollen and plant macrofossils records have focused on large-scale patterns of the last deglaciation (~20 ka - 11.5 ka) and the Holocene (11.5 ka to present). Although the broad changes tied to loss of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and mid-Holocene insolation changes have been well documented, few records have sufficient temporal resolution to document terrestrial response to decadal, multi-decadal, and centennial scale patterns of climate variability. This project uses sediment coring and pollen, microscopic charcoal, other proxies, and geochronology to document the vegetation response to changes in hydrology. By generating these high-resolution vegetation records, the project will link the terrestrial response to well-documented climate events found in marine and ice cores.

Why is this research important?

Several high-resolution proxy records from estuarine sediments indicate that the past two thousand years have been marked with extreme variability in temperature and precipitation as well as regional heterogeneity. This project examines the effects of the abrupt climate events such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age on the terrestrial vegetation. Understanding the nature of these events serves as a baseline to interpret current and future landscape changes.

Principal Investigator: Christopher Bernhardt

Project Team: Thomas Sheehan, Marci Marot, Bryan Landacre, Miriam Jones

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