Understanding climate controls of paleoenvironmental change in the Western U.S. using modern climate analogs

Authors: Jacqueline Shinker*, University of Wyoming
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Climatology and Meteorology, Mountain Environments
Keywords: Paleoenvironment, Climate, Western U.S.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Environmental reconstructions utilizing proxy data (e.g. pollen, charcoal, isotopes) provide information on past conditions (e.g. drought) or disturbances (e.g. fire). The Western U.S., with its steep topography and diverse ecology are influenced by large-scale circulation processes, regional variability and local-scale controls on climate. While paleoenvironmenal reconstructions are useful for identifying a state change or disturbance in the past, information regarding what climate conditions may have supported such changes are typically not available through such proxy records. This presentation will provide insight into using modern climate data to identify analogs for past environmental change seen in paleoenvironmental reconstructions in the Western U.S. Specifically, the use of the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) data is helpful for identifying climate extremes (e.g. drought) that can be used as modern climate analogs for paleoenvironmental changes. In particular, the NARR data provides the spatial resolution (32-km grid) and processed-based variables that can provide context for climate mechanisms at the watershed scale. By analyzing modern climate conditions as analogs for past environmental changes we can improve our understanding of atmospheric and surface processes that set the stage for past disturbances identified in paleoecological records.

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