Reconstructing Environmental Change, EES-459, 3 credits

**Next Offered Fall 2014**

Course description

Natural archives, such as those preserved in the sediments of lakes and bogs, provide critically important long-term perspectives on past environmental variability and the evolution of modern climate and ecological systems. During the past couple decades, considerable advances have been made in our ability to quantitatively reconstruct past environmental conditions, including reconstructions of temperature, precipitation, physiochemical conditions, trophic status, and community composition. These recent advances are dramatically improving our ability to assess timing, rates, magnitudes, and biotic responses to past environmental perturbations. Throughout this course we will examine and critically evaluate the techniques used to reconstruct environmental conditions of the recent past.

Course objectives

    1. Develop an understanding of the array of archives and proxies that can be used to infer Holocene environmental variation, including their strengths, weaknesses, interactions, spatial and temporal resolution, and response times.
    2. Become familiar with the quantitative methods used in paleoenvironmental reconstruction, including the development of age-depth models, cluster analysis, ordination techniques, time-series analysis, and transfer function models.
    3. Refine your skills at assimilating and discussing primary literature.
    4. Gain depth in a particular technique, method, or area of interest within the paleoenvironmental sciences by developing and completing a novel project/paper, involving a quantitative synthesis or portrayal of available data.

Instructor

Bob Booth, 244 STEPS

Text and readings

All readings will be provided.

 

Example schedule and readings (Fall 2008).

DATE

TOPICS

READINGS (*required)

Week 1

NATURAL ARCHIVES OF PAST ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABILITY
  • *Smol,, J.P. 2008. Chapter 5. Reading the records stored in sediments: the present is a key to the past. Pages 48-73 In Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: a paleoenvironmental perspective. Blackwell Publishing.

 

COLLECTING LAKE AND PEATLAND SEDIMENT CORES AND DEVELOPING A CHRONOLOGY
  • *Smol,, J.P. 2008. Chapter 4. Retrieving the sedimentary archive and establishing the geochronological clock: collecting and dating sediment cores. Pages 30-47 In Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: a paleoenvironmental perspective. Blackwell Publishing.
  • *Turetsky, M.R., S.W. Manning, and R.K. Wieder. 2004. Dating recent peat deposits. Wetlands 24: 324-356.
  • Glew, J.R., J.P. Smol, and W.M. Last. 2001. Sediment core collection and extrusion. P. 73-105 in W.M. Last and J.R. Smol (eds.), Tracking environmental change using lake sediments. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Walker, M. 2005. Quaternary Dating Methods. John Wiley and Sons.
  • Bjorck, S. and B. Wohlfarth. 2001. 14C Chronostratigraphic techniques in paleolimnology. P. 205-245 in W.M. Last and J.R. Smol (eds.), Tracking environmental change using lake sediments. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Bradley, R. 1999. Paleoclimatology. Acdemic Press, San Diego.

 

Week 2

RECENT ADVANCES IN RADIOCARBON-BASED CHRONOLOGIES AND AGE-DEPTH MODELING
  • *Buck, C.E., T.F.G. Higham, and D.J. Lowe. 2003. Bayesian tools for tephrochronology. The Holocene 13: 639-647.
  • Blaauw, M., R. Bakker, J.A. Christen, V.A. Hall, and J. van der Plicht. 2007. A Bayesian framework for age modeling of radiocarbon-dated peat deposits: Case studies from the Netherlands. Radiocarbon 49: 357-367.
  • Blackwell, P.G., C.E. Buck, and P.J. Reimer. 2006. Important features of the new radiocarbon calibration curves. Quaternary Science Reviews 25: 408-413.
  • Petrie, C.A. and R. Torrence. 2008. Assessing the effects of volcanic disasters on human settlement in the Willaumez Peninsula, Papus New Guinea: A Bayesian approach to radiocarbon calibaration. The Holocene 18: 729-744.
  • Telford, R.J., E. Heegaard, and H.J.B. Birks. 2004. All age-depth models are wrong: but how badly? Quaternary Science Reviews 23: 1-5.
  • Yeloff, D., K.D. Bennett, M. Blaauw, D. Mauquoy, U. Sillasoo, J. van der Pilicht, and B. van Geel. 2006. High precision 14C dating of Holocene peat deposits: A comparison of Bayesian calibration and wiggle-matching approaches. Quaternary geochronology 1: 222-235.

 

RECENT ADVANCES IN RADIOCARBON-BASED AGE MODELS & OVERVIEW OF 210PB DATING

*(receive calibration / age-model assignment)

  • Appleby, P.G. 2008. Three decades of dating recent sediments by fallout radionuclides: a review. The Holocene18: 83-93.
  • *Blaauw M, JA Christen, 2005. Bpeat manual. Introduction. Vile, M.A., R. Kelman Wieder, M. Novak. 1999. Mobility of Pb in sphagnum-derived peat. Biogeochemistry 45:35-52.
  • Blaauw M, JA Christen, 2005. Radiocarbon peat chronologies and environmental change. Applied Statistics 54: 805-816.

 

Week 3

PROXIES FOR PAST VEGETATION: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES
  • *von Post, L. 1916 (1967). Forest tree pollen in south Swedish peat bog deposits. Pollen et Spores 9: 378-401. (translated by M. Davis and K. Faegri with introduction by K. Faegri and J. Iversen.
  • *Cain, S.A. 1944. Pollen analysis as a paleoecological research method. P. 122-144 in Foundations of Plant Geography.
  • *Davis, M.B. 1963. On the theory of pollen analysis. American Journal of Science 261: 897-912.

 

Discussion of wiggle-match dating tutorial.

Discussion of age-depth modeling assignment.

Discussion of course project ideas.

 

 

Week 4

DISPLAYING AND EXAMINING PROXY DATA: STRATIGRAPHIC PLOTS, ORDINATION, CLUSTER ANALYSIS, AND ZONATION.

 

  • McCune, B. and J.B. Grace. 2002. Analysis of ecological communities. Mjm Software Design. Oregon. Gotelli, N,J, and A.M. Ellison. 2004. Chapter 12. The Analysis of Multivariate Data. In: A primer of ecological statistics.

Week 5

QUANTITATIVE RECONSTRUCTIONS USING POLLEN

*(receive multivariate assignment)

  • *Brewer, S., J. Guiot, and D. Barboni. 2007. Pollen data as climate proxies. Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, Elsevier.
  • *Davis, M., C. Douglas, R. Calcote, K.L. Cole, M.G. Winkler, and R. Flakne. 2000. Holocene climate in the western Great Lakes Parks and Lakeshores: Implications for future climate change. Conservation Biology 14:968-983.
  • *Tarasov, P. J.W. Williams, A. Andreev, T. Nakagawa, E. Bezrukova, U. Herzshuh, Y. Igarashi, S. Muller, K. Werner, Z. Zheng. 2007. Satellite- and pollen-based quantitative woody cover reconstruction for northern Asia: Verification and application to late-Quaternary pollen data. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 264: 284-298.
  • *Hotchkiss, S.C., R. Calcote, E.A. Lynch. 2007. Response of vegetation and fire to Little Ice Age climate change: regional continuity and landscape heterogeneity. Landscape Ecology 22:25-41.

 

QUANTITATIVE RECONSTRUCTION OF PEATLAND PLANT COMMUNITIES AND ENVIRONMENTS
  • *Barber, K.E., F.M. Chambers, and D. Maddy. 2003. Holocene palaeoclimate from peat stratigraphy: macrofossil proxy climate records from three oceanic raised bogs in England and Ireland. Quaternary Science Reviews 22:521-539.
  • *Hughes, P.D.M., A. Blundell, D.J. Charman, S. Bartlett, J.R.G. Daniell, A. Wojatschke, and F.M. Chambers. 2006. An 8500 cal. Year multi-proxy climate record from a bog in eastern Newfoundland: contributions of meltwater discharge and solar forcing. Quaternary Science Reviews 25:1208-1227.
  • *Yeloff, D. and D. Mauquoy. 2006. The influence of vegetation composition on peat humification: implications for palaeoclimatic studies. Boreas 35:662-673.

 

Week 6

TRANSFER FUNCTIONS: TYPES OF MODELS, DEVELOPMENT, AND VALIDATION
  • Smol, J.P. 2008. The paleolimnologist’s Rosetta Stone: calibrating indicators to environmental variables using surface-sediment training sets. Pages 68-78 in Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: A paleoenvironmental perspective. Oxford University Press.
  • Birks, H.J.B. 1998. Numerical tools in paleolimnology – progress, potentialities, and problems. Journal of Paleolimnology 20: 307-332.

 

DIATOMS IN LAKES AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
  • *Laird, KR., & B.F. Cumming. 2008. Reconstruction of Holocene lake level from diatoms, chrysophytes and organic matter in a drainage lake from the Experimental Lakes Area (northwestern Ontario, Canada). Quaternary Research 69: 292-305.
  • *Koster, D., J.M.J. Racca, & R. Pienitz. 2004. Diatom-based inference models and reconstructions revisited: methods and transformations. Journal of Paleolimnology 32: 233-246.

 

Week 7

Present and discuss results of multivariate analysis assignments

 

 

Week 8

STABLE ISOTOPES IN PEATLANDS AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
  • *White, J.W.C., P. Ciais, R.A. Figge, R. Kenny, & V. Markgraf. 1994. A high-resolution record of atmospheric CO2 content from carbon isotopes in peat. Nature 367: 153-156.
  • *Rice, S.K., and L. Giles. 1994. Climate in the Pleistocene. (Response to White et al 1994) Nature 371: 111-112.
  • *Asada, T., B. Warner, & R. Aravena. 2005. Effects of the early stage of decomposition on change in carbon and nitrogen isotopes in Sphagnum litter. Journal of Plant Interactions 1: 229-237.
  • *Jedrysek, M.O., & G. Skrzpek. 2005. Hydrogen, carbon and sulphur isotope ratios in peat: the role of diagenessis and water regimes in reconstruction of past climates. Environmental Chemistry Letters 2Q: 179-183.

 

STABLE ISOTOPES IN LAKES AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
  • *Wolfe, A.P., J.S. Baron, & J. Cornett. 2001. Anthropogenic nitrogen deposition induces rapid ecological changes in alpine lakes of the Colorado Front Range (USA). Journal of Paleolimnology 25: 1-7.
  • *Diefendorf, A.F., W.P. Patterson, C. Holmden, and H.T. Mullins. 2008. Carbon isotopes of marl and lake sediment organic matter reflect terrestrial landscape change during the late Glacial and early Holocene (16,800 to 5,540 cal yr B.P.): a multiproxy study of lacustrne sediments at Lough Inchiquin, western Ireland. Journal of Paleolimnology 39: 101-115.

 

Week 9

PROXY RECORDS FROM CORALS
  • *Correge, T. 2006. Sea surface temperature and salinity reconstructions from coral geochemical tracers. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 232: 408-428.
  • *Hendy, E.J. 2002. Abrupt decrease in tropical Pacific Sea Surface Salinity at end of Little Ice Age. Science 295: 1511.

 

RECONSTRUCTING FIRE HISTORY
  • *Higuera, P.E., D.G. Sprugel, & L.B. Brubaker. 2005. Reconstructing fire regimes with charcoal from small-hollow sediments: a calibration with tree-ring records of fire. The Holocene 15: 238.
  • *Van Horne, M.L. and P.Z. Fule. 2005. Comparing methods of reconstructing fire history using fire scars in a southwestern United States ponderosa pine forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36: 855-867.

 

Week 10

PACKRAT MIDDEN ARCHIVES
  • *Lyford, M.E., S.T. Jackson, S.T. Gray, and R.G. Eddy. 2004. Validating the use of woodrat (Neotoma) middens for documenting natural invasions. Journal of Biogeography 31: 333–342.
  • *Gray, S.T., J.L. Betancourt, S.T. Jackson, & R.G. Eddy. 2006. Role of multidecadal climate variability in a range extension of Pinyon Pine. Ecology 87: 1124-1130.

 

Meet with Bob independently to discuss projects and progress.

 

 

Week 11

ZOOLOGICAL INDICATORS
  • *Curry, B.B. 1999. An environmental tolerance index for ostracodes as indicators of physical and chemical factors in aquatic habitats. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 148: 51-63.
  • *Yasuhara, M., H. Yamazaki, T. Irizuki, and S. Yoshikawa. 2003. Temporal changes of ostracode assemblages and anthropogenic pollution during the last 100 years, in sediment cores from Hiroshima Bay, Japan. The Holocene 13: 527-536.

 

TREE-RING RECORDS OF ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABILITY AND ECOLOGICAL RESPONSES
  • *Cook, E.R., C.A. Woodhouse, C. M. Eakin, D.M. Meko, and D.W. Stahle. 2004. Long-Term Aridity Changes in the Western United States. Science 306: 1015-1018.
  • *Pederson, G.T., S.T. Gray, D.B. Fagre, and L.J. Graumlich. 2006. Long-Duration Drought Variability and Impacts on Ecosystem Services: A Case Study from Glacier National Park, Montana. Earth Interactions 10: 1-28.

 

Week 12

PALEOENVIRONMENTAL RECORDS OF OCEAN-ATMOSPHERE LINKAGES
  • *McCabe, G.J., M.A. Palecki, and J.L. Betancourt. 2004. Pacific and Atlantic influences on multidecadal drought frequency in the United States. PNAS 101: 4136-4141.
  • *Gray, S.T., L.J. Graumlich, J.L. Betancourt, and G.T. Pederson. 2004. A tree-ring based reconstruction of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation since 1567 A.D. Geophysical Research Letters 31, L12205, doi:10.1029/2004GL019932.

 

LAKE-LEVEL RECONSTRUCTIONS
  • *Shuman, B., P. Newby, J.P. Donnelly, A. Tarbox, T. Webb III. 2005. A Record of Late-Quaternary Moisture-Balance Change and Vegetation Response from the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95: 237-248.
  • *Baedke, S.J., T.A. Thompson,J.W. Johnston, and D.A.Wilcox. 2004. Reconstructing paleo lake levels from relict shorelines along the Upper Great Lakes. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management 7: 435–449.

 

Week 13

RECONSTRUCTING CHANGES IN EXTERNAL FORCING OF THE CLIMATE SYSTEM: SOLAR VARIABILITY AND VOLCANISM
  • *van Geel, B., O.M. Raspopov, H. Renssen, J. can der Plicht, V.A. Dergachev, H.A.J. Meijer. 1999. The role of solar forcing upon climate change. Quaternary Science Reviews 18: 331-338.
  • *Zhang, P., H. Cheng, R. L. Edwards, F. Chen,Y. Wang, X. Yang, J. Liu, M. Tan, X. Wang, J. Liu, C. An, Z. Dai,J. Zhou, D. Zhang, J. Jia, L. Jin, K. R. Johnson. 2008. A Test of Climate, Sun, and Culture Relationships from an 1810-Year Chinese Cave Record. Science 322: 940-942.

 

THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE
  • *Jansen, E., J. Overpeck, K.R. Briffa, J.-C. Duplessy, F. Joos, V. Masson-Delmotte, D. Olago, B. Otto-Bliesner, W.R. Peltier, S. Rahmstorf,R. Ramesh, D. Raynaud, D. Rind, O. Solomina, R. Villalba and D. Zhang, 2007: Palaeoclimate. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

 

Week 14

Final presentations  

 

 

*Some of the pictures on the banner at the top of this page were from NOAA's paleoclimatology web site.