Florida Paleotempestology Records

Authors: Joanne Muller*, Florida Gulf Coast University
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Hazards and Vulnerability, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: Paleotempestology, hurricanes, Sea Surface Temperatures, overwash
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Paleotempestology proxy records from coastal sites are enabling scientists to detect and analyze the underlying climatic forcing for hurricane activity over thousands of years. The new coherent hurricane patterns displayed in these paleotempestology reconstructions offer critical insights into climate-hurricane interactions. Many reconstructions demonstrate that the preindustrial climate system was able to produce historically unprecedented levels of intense hurricane activity along heavily populated sections of U.S. coastlines. In addition, the research demonstrates that the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast are sometimes in phase, but sometimes they are not. Climate drivers such as sea surface temperatures (SSTs), the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM), El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) may exert significant influence over hurricane dynamics over longer time scales. For example, it has been proposed that a positive AMM, coincident with elevated SSTs in the Main Development Region (MDR) and a northward migration of the ITCZ, is responsible for more frequent/intense hurricanes along Western Atlantic coastlines, in particular the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. We use sedimentary paleotempestology records from back-barrier lagoons, bays and marshes along the Florida coastline. These records allow us to compare with large-scale climate drivers. In addition, by comparing specific overwash layers to known hurricanes we endeavor to assess properties within overwash layers that are characteristic of hurricanes features, such as storm surge inundation. Because sedimentary paleotempestology is still a relatively young science, research on the recent geologic record is extremely important in assessing the viability of sedimentary overwash proxies.

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