September 2010 Archives

Lane pointed out that the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics is hosting an evening lecture series at the Red Stag Supper Club. The announcement for the series states that speakers will deal with a range of subjects related to earth processes and global change, so you might see something that catches your attention.

I can recommend the Red Stag as a very nice place to have dinner or just hang out. They combine a rustic rural feel (complete with large pine timbers) with an extensive menu made from local products.

Seminar schedule

Class 4, Global temperature.010.jpg

Tomorrow, we'll discuss how trees, lakes and NASA see changes in global mean temperature.

I've uploaded a few graphics to guide our discussions here.

Next week we'll discuss how proxy records are used to make inferences about past changes in hemispheric or global temperatures. This topic is probably the most widely known (and criticized) application of paleocimatology and includes a very extensive literature. We'll start with a couple of examples, after reading a review about observed warming during the last century.

OSBORN Science 2006.pdf

Moberg Nature 2005.pdf

Hansen Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2006-1.pdf

Quaternary Paleoecology seminar series

The Quaternary Paleoecology seminar series starts next week, so if you're interested in ancient Russian floods, forest succession in northern Minnesota and (even) tree rings, check out the list of speakers:

Schedule for 2010 seminars

The seminars run 'off hours' (on Wednesday evenings) and 'off site' (at the home of Geological Professor Herb Wright). I'll be able to report in more detail once I go to next week's seminar, which will be my first.

(The seminar is also associated with a Minor program for Ph.D. students).

Next week, we'll talk about (and see) how researchers at UMn use tree-ring and lake-sediment records to make inferences about past environmental changes. For our discussion, I'd like you to read a pair of review papers published in the 2006 Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science.

The first article, written by Brian Luckman (University of Western Ontario), describes the fundamentals of dendroclimatology and some of its recent applications:

Luckman Encyclopedia of Quatenary Science 2006.pdf

The other article is by Brian Shulman (University of Wyoming, formerly UMn) and Bruce Finney (University of Alaska), and outlines how lake records are used to make inferences about fluctuations in lake level:

Shuman Encyclopedia of Quatenary Science 2006.pdf

I'd also like you to explore the data archive operated by NOAA Paleoclimatology. The WDC has pages set up for both tree-ring and lake sediment records. Experiment with a few of the site's visualization tools to see where these types of records are common (or uncommon).

Finally, I wanted to remind you to be ready next week to discuss our plans for the rest of the course. Look over the schedule, and think about (1) which topic that's most interesting to you, (2) which we could leave out and (3) what we might be missing that's important to cover.

September 22, 2010: Class roadtrip

UMN DendroCenter Logo, vertical.jpg

Next week we'll hit the road to conduct our discussions in two of the on-campus laboratories devoted to paleoclimatology.

At 9.30, we'll meet in one of the rooms used by the Center for Dendrochronology, which is housed in the Department of Geography. Look for room 509 on the 5th floor of the Social Sciences building.

Around 10:30, we'll walk across the river to take a tour of the Limnological Research Center (which is located in the Civil Engineering Building, room 672).

September 15, 2010: El Niño (slides)

Class 2, El Nino.001.jpg

Just a few images to support our discussions tomorrow, available if you want them:

For next week's discussion of proxy records of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, here are three questions to keep in mind:

1. Describe the basic characteristics of your proxy record. What is the time window that the record covers? What is its temporal resolution? What evidence or approach is the basis for the record's chronology?

2. Briefly describe the line of argument that connects your proxy to the ENSO system. Why might we expect that these data would reflect the influence of ENSO?

3. Based on the 'typical' impact that ENSO has on global climate, what other places might exhibit a good 'ENSO' signal? What proxies might be strongly tuned to those signals?


Next week's class with deal with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the dominant source of year-to-year variability in the climate system and perpetually a hot topic in paleoclimate.

I promise this will be the only class that has four papers assigned as readings.

The entire group will read a review of El Niño written by Peter Webster and Tim Palmer from Nature:

Webster Nature 1997.pdf

With the Webster and Palmer paper as background, each 2- or 3-person group will be responsible for leading the discussion on their chosen proxy:

CORALS Cobb Nature 2003.pdf

ARCHIVES Quinn JGR 1987.pdf

TREE RINGS Stahle BAMS 1998.pdf

I recommend that everyone at least skim through the other two papers. I'll send out a short list of questions to frame our discussions either later today or tomorrow morning.

On Wednesday, we'll discuss three articles on the relevance of paleoclimatology. I've uploaded PDFs of the readings: links are below.

Schneider Encyclopedia of Quatenary Science 2006.pdf

Nicholls WIREs Clim Chang 2010.pdf

Bradley Natural Climate Variability and Global Warming 2008.pdf

GEOG5426 - Lecture 1.jpg

If you want a sneak peak of our discussion on Wednesday, I've uploaded the slides I'll use for our introduction to the course on here. You should also be able to download the slides as an Adobe Postscript (PDF) file.

Look elsewhere

Quotes for Paleo Talks.026.jpg

Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
--- Saint Bernard

Course plan

I've posted the schedule for the course (again, this will likely change as we go along) here. Students will have the opportunity to lead discussions on the topics(s) of their choice, so if there's something that ties into your own interests, stake your claim early.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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October 2010 is the next archive.

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