I am a stratigrapher who combines sedimentary studies with geochemical, biogeochemical, and stable isotope analyses to investigate questions regarding climate change and human history. One of the fundamental questions we currently face is how will future climate and environmental change impact society. To answer these questions we need to look further back in time than we are able to do using the instrumental records. Sediments from lakes, bogs, and wetlands are found worldwide and provide layered archives that can be analyzed and dated to address a variety of questions related to climate and land use change over time.
The emphasis of my current research is to identify and recover core samples from lakes that archive climate other environmental information at annual to multi-decadal resolution. Paleoclimate based temperature and drought reconstructions that document thousands of years of climate and environmental information are needed to improve our understanding of how the Earth's climate system works as well as providing an archive of regional climate variability. Lake deposits can also be used to investigate the impact of people on the landscape including land use change and the history of pollution going back thousands of years.
The central goals of my research are to: (1) develop time series of climatic variability that will extend our knowledge of the climate system prior to the establishment of widespread instrumental records by using geologic archives, (2) combine studies from multiple watersheds within a region to identify patterns and potential mechanisms for climatic change and long distance/inter-hemispheric teleconnections, and (3) produce lake records documenting the impact of people on the landscape. Increasingly, my research is aimed at identifying climatic shifts that occur over timescales relevant to humans. This approach couples extensive fieldwork in remote locations with detailed laboratory analyses of sediment cores and modern samples to constrain down-core interpretations.