Climate Change

Research site in Iceland (photo by Lisa Doner)In the fall of 2010, research professor Lisa Doner was awarded a $611,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Decadal cyclicity in North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) proxies from northwest Iceland lake sediments”.

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a distinct pattern of sea level pressures that, from North America to western Europe, is associated with changes in intensity of jet stream winds and storminess, drought and wet conditions in the southeast US and Middle East, and snow accumulations in New England. Using geological and geochemical attributes of lake sediments from Iceland, the project team hopes to determine if the NAO is also associated with an oscillating chemical pattern that appears in some Icelandic lake sediments every 100 years or so, since AD 800 (Doner, 2003).

The project has two primary goals: to determine if these geochemical cycles can be used as a proxy for past NAO conditions and, thus, to extend the record of NAO variability to a period before human settlement; and to determine if settlement by Vikings, in AD 890, amplified the impact of the past climate changes on the land. The team seeks to learn what has created an unusual cyclical pattern of chemical deposits in three northwest Iceland lakes. They are testing the idea that these cycles are associated with a climate pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation, which also creates changes in New England, parts of Europe and the Middle East.

The project includes a team of researchers from several universities in the US and Iceland brought together by a scientific mystery.

Plymouth State University:

  • Lisa Doner (lead investigator)
  • Mark Green (co-investigator)

Salem State University:

  • Brad Hubeny (lead investigator)

University of Maine:

  • Ann Dieffenbacher-Krall (lead investigator)

Icelandic Collaborators:

  • Hrund Ó. Andradóttir, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland
  • Peter Weiss, Director, University of the West Fjords
  • Jorunn Hardardottir, Managing Director, Icelandic Meteorology Office

Direct Funding:

  • NSF Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change (EAR1003444),  2010-2014; $611,857
  • NSF Doctoral Dissertation Support Grant (ATM-9520807) 1995-1996; $ 19,939

Supplementary Support:

  • PSU College of Graduate Studies Research Assistantship 2010-2011; $11,800
  • PSU Center For the Environment Graduate Research Support, 2011; $950

Please visit the project website for more information.

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January 9th, 2013 by Michael

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