Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center

Paleoclimate

Paleoclimate studies provide an essential perspective for assessing the potential impacts of future climate on natural systems and the people who rely on them. GECSC scientists interpret geologic evidence of past climate changes over broad temporal and spatial scales and provide the information needed to understand the rates and patterns of Earth system response to a range of climate and landscape changes. Integration of these data with climate modeling efforts provides a means to improve understanding of the impacts of change and feedbacks between the Earth and climate systems, as well as improve model performance and prediction capabilities.

Filter Total Items: 11
Date published: May 11, 2020
Status: Active

Denali National Park Geohazards Geologic Mapping

Denali National Park (DENA) is a major draw for tourism and recreation and a major economic engine for central Alaska. However, the geologic forces that created the steep landscape of DENA also make it prone to geologic hazards (geohazards) like landslides, debris flows, and earthquakes. DENA has only one major road, called the ‘Park Road’, that serves nearly all of its infrastructure.

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Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Past Perspectives of Water in the West

In the intermountain west, seasonal precipitation extremes, combined with population growth, are creating new challenges for the management of water resources, ecosystems, and geologic hazards. This research contributes a comprehensive long-term context for a deeper understanding of past hydrologic variability, including the magnitude and frequency of drought and flood extremes and ecosystem...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Cenozoic Landscape Evolution of the Southern Rocky Mountains

The Cenozoic Landscape Evolution of the Southern Rocky Mountains Project is a multi-year investigation funded by the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program. This project utilizes a combination of geologic mapping, geophysical surveys, basin modeling, and structural, neotectonic, geomorphic, volcanic, stratigraphic, and geochronologic studies to better understand the geologic landscape...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Geologic Records of High Sea Levels

This project studies past high sea levels on coastlines that preserve fossil coral reefs or marine terraces. We ascertain the magnitudes of sea-level high stands by field mapping, stratigraphic measurements, and precise elevation measurements. Geochronology is accomplished by radiocarbon dating of mollusks (for Holocene-to-last-glacial deposits), uranium-series dating of corals (for high-sea...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Holocene Hydroclimate of Western North America

The objectives of this project are to reconstruct detailed histories of Holocene hydroclimate and corresponding environmental change from geological archives such as lake sediment, peat, and wood to more fully understand past, ongoing, and future change and its impacts.

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Ice Dynamics, Paleoclimate, and Ice Cores

Ice cores recovered from the polar regions of the Earth contain the most comprehensive, direct record of the Earth's high-latitude climate for the past 800,000 years. In addition to providing a proxy temperature record (through the record of the stable isotope ratios of water preserved in the ice) and a direct observational record of net accumulation, ice cores also provide the only direct...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Denver Radiogenic Isotope Lab

Radiogenic isotopes are daughter nuclides derived from natural decay of radioactive parent nuclides. They are useful for determining radiometric ages of rocks, minerals, and soils, and can be used as natural tracers of lithologic, hydrologic, and biologic materials.

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Paleohydrology of Desert Wetlands

Springs and wetlands are among the most highly threatened ecosystems on Earth. Although geographically limited, they support more than 20% of all the threatened and endangered species in the United States. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are examining the rock record to determine how springs and wetlands responded to abrupt climate change during prehistoric times and the recent...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Sources, compositions, and effects of atmospheric dust from American Drylands

The Drylands Project undertakes studies to measure past and ongoing changes in dust sources, flux, and composition in the American West, and strives to understand the effects of atmospheric dust on pressing national and global issues of snowmelt acceleration, air quality, and human health. The project develops the capability to forecast future dust emission/deposition and effects on the basis...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Terrestrial Rates and Amplitudes of Changes in Ecoclimate Systems (TRACES)

Vegetation changes caused by climatic variations and/or land use may have large impacts on forests, agriculture, rangelands, natural ecosystems, and endangered species. Climate modeling studies indicate that vegetation cover, in turn, has a strong influence on regional climates, and this must be better understood before models can estimate future environmental conditions. To address these...

Contacts: Bob Thompson
Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Terrestrial Records of Holocene Climate Change: Fire, climate and humans

Large wildfires have raged across the western Americas in the past decade including the Las Conchas, New Mexico fire that burned 44,000 acres in a single day in 2011 (Orem and Pelletier, 2015, Geomorphology 232: 224-238, and references therein), the 2016 Fort McMurray, Alberta fire that required evacuating an entire city, and the 2015 Alaskan fire season that burned more than 5 million acres (...