Collaborative research: Broad questions on decadal variability


Hi everyone,

Like I mentioned last class, this Thursday we will take our first step towards developing collaborative research projects on particular aspects of decadal climate variability and its impacts on terrestrial systems. To help get us there, I've prepared three questions that I'd like you to use as way to prepare for our next meeting.

What aspect of the global biosphere are you most keenly interested (ocean-atmosphere-land surface)? If possible, identify particularly sub-systems or processes that you find most engaging (wildfire? coastal fisheries? large-scale atmospheric circulation? minimum streamflow?).

Identify two or three geographic regions that could be a target for your potential research. Choose a spatial scale that makes sense for your particular interests (for example, the southwestern US, the west coast of North America, Andean South America, or the upper Missouri basin).

Finally, identify two or three themes or issues we've discussed in class that could be used as motivating questions for your research. For example, you might address whether or not decadal-scale shifts in wildfire frequency in the southwestern United States coincide with similarly-timed changes in regional precipitation. Or you might look at whether or not climate models can simulate observed decadal-scale variability in precipitation. Think big!

Please think about these questions before we meet on Thursday morning. I'd also like you to bring in short (1 or 2 sentences only!) responses to these questions. Your answers will help all of us identify potential areas of mutual interest or collaboration. But please prepare written responses (don't just improvise in class).

See you Thursday!


Two big ideas, but probably at lower frequencies than decadal:

1. How did plagues effect climate in Western Europe? (expand upon Ruddiman et al, 2003)

2. How do pirates impact global average temperatures? Probably related to ENSO somehow (see

For the Sahel region:

1) Define the "Sahel"
2) Describe the precipitation record in the Shale and decadal variability
3) How does the Sahel precip correlate to the AMO?
- Look for spatial distribution of correlation
- Regional averages
4) How do crop yields correlate with annual/seasonal rainfall variability?
5) How well do GCMs capture decadal variability in the Sahel?
- Does it depend on model resolution?
- Do the models capture the relationship between the AMO and Sahel precipitation?
- Do models have an AMO at all?
- What are the projections of Sahel decadal variablity?
6) How will projected changes in precip/decadal precip impact cultivatability?
7) How are streamflow and rainfall correlated over the Sahel?
- Proxies of lake level?
- Decadal signal in streamflow?
- Correlation with precip?

Theme: PDO and Glacial Fluctuation

1) Can a PDO signal be seen in glacial mass balance?

2) Do glaciers care about a decadal signal?

3)Does winter precipitation play a role in PDO and glacial mass balance?

Theme: local and regional climate data

1) Are there differences in spectral properties between local, gridded, and divisional data?

2) Do low-frequency spectral properties of local precipitation data carry over to local Soil Water Equivalent data (and possibly PDSI)? If not, is it reasonable to reconstruct low-frequency climate behavior from biological proxies?

3) How do different methods of data aggregation (e.g. bi-weight robust mean) or data reduction (e.g. principle component analysis) affect the spectral properties of regional climate data? How well do the results of these different methods correlate with one another?

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This page contains a single entry by Scott St. George published on October 8, 2012 3:10 PM.

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