PAOC Colloquium: David McGee (MIT)
|September 11th, 2017
||Ida Green Lounge (54-915)
Title: Connecting ancient lake deposits to past atmospheric changes in the southwestern U.S.
Abstract: At its core, the study of past precipitation changes seeks to understand two basic questions: by how much have precipitation patterns changed in the past, and why have the changed? I will explore these fundamental questions focusing on the southwestern U.S., a water-stressed region that is projected to get drier in the future. For over a century, ancient lake shorelines in California, Nevada and Utah have been studied as a window into periods of dramatically wetter conditions in the past. I will describe how my group is attempting to understand these past wet periods in two of the largest of these lake basins, and I will present a summary of what paleoclimate data suggest about the magnitude, timing and spatial patterns of past wet periods. I will then turn to efforts to interpret these paleoclimate data, exploring ways that we can compare data from ancient lakes with model output both to offer insights into past atmospheric dynamics and to test model performance in quite different climatic conditions.
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