Paleoclimate

Paleoclimate scientists attempt to understand fundamental aspects of the Earth's Climate System by using natural recorders of past climate change together with climate models to identify regional, hemispheric or inter-hemispheric climate patterns, and to provide the baseline for ongoing and future climate change. These disciplines use marine and terrestrial climate archives (including ocean and lake sediments, fossil corals, speleothems, ice cores, terrestrial sediments, tree rings etc) to create a record of climate changes and variabilities ranging from sub-annual timescales to millions of years. Research interests within the department include reconstructing changes in ocean chemistry and circulation, changes in the carbon cycle, in temperature and precipitation patterns, sea-level and global ice volume, atmospheric circulation and aerosol changes, mountain glacier fluctuations and changes in land-ocean interactions. We use biological, chemical, mineralogic, and isotopic measurements together with climate models to develop a global scale perspective on our climate system. The Paleoclimate faculty includes Columbia University geologists, biologists, geochemists, atmospheric scientists as well as scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the American Museum of Natural History.

Peter B. deMenocal
Personal Information
Peter
B.
deMenocal
Professor
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Biology and Paleo Environment
Contact Information
207 Geoscience
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8483

Fax: 

(845) 365-8150

Fields of interest: 

Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology

I study marine sediment to reconstruct past changes in ocean circulation and terrestrial climate. Our group primarily uses stable isotopic and trace metal (Mg/Ca) analyses of foraminifera and terrigenous sediment geochemistry to investigate how and why climates have changed in the past. Recent research projects include: Holocene climate and ocean circulation variability

Some of my projects include:

  • African climate change and Human evolution ( details )
  • Holocene climate variability ( details )
  • Abrupt onset and termination of the African Humid Period ( details )
  • Cultural responses to Holocene climate changes ( details )
  • Mollusc geochemistry and reconstructing seasonal to multiannual records of coastal oceean temperatures ( details)

 

 

Education
Ph.D. (Geology)
Columbia University
1991
M.S. (Oceanography)
University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography
1986
B.S. (Geology) cum laude
St. Lawrence University
1982
James D. Hays
Personal Information
James
D.
Hays
Professor Emeritus
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Biology and Paleo Environment
Co-Chair - Task Force on Undergraduate Education
Columbia University
Special Research Scientist
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Contact Information
104 Core Lab
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8403

Fax: 

(845) 365-8150

Fields of interest: 

Climate change history; evolutionary history of microfossils

I have spent my research career studying deep-sea cores in an effort to read some meaningful history from the minerals and fossils they contain. My interests now include the history of climate change over the past three million years, specifically the factors that contributed to the initiation of large advances and retreats of northern hemisphere glaciers toward the beginning of this period and why the climate response of the two hemispheres is so extraordinarily symmetrical despite asymmetrical geography and forcing.

A second kind of history that has caught my fancy is the evolutionary history recorded by the myriad microfossil specimens entombed in as little as a gram of deep-sea sediments. Migrations, speciations and extinctions all can be precisely documented in space and time through our global array of deep-sea cores.

I work primarily with a group of siliceous microfossils known as Radiolaria. These extraordinarily beautiful microfossils have large numbers of species in both high and low latitudes. This high diversity has made them useful stratigraphically and is proving important in their paleoecological and paleobiological utility.

Education
Ph.D.
Columbia
1964
Master of Science
Ohio State
1960
Bachelor of Arts
Harvard
1956
Jordan Abell
Personal Information
Jordan
Abell
Contact Information
Robert Sandstrom
Personal Information
Robert
Sandstrom
Graduate Student
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Biology and Paleo Environment
Contact Information
104 Geoscience
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8727

Fax: 

(845) 365-8150

Fields of interest: 

Paleo sea level reconstructions through coastal geomorphology and marine carbonate dating.
Education
PhD Graduate Student
Columbia University
Current
B.A
Vassar College
05/2012
Laura Haynes
Personal Information
Laura
Haynes
Graduate Student
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Geochemistry
Contact Information
207 Comer
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8609

Fax: 

(845) 365-8155

Fields of interest: 

paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, proxy development

My current work focuses on the development of the B/Ca proxy in planktic foraminifera for reconstructing ocean acidification at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (56 ma). To do this, we are undertaking culture experiments in multiple species to constrain the effects of variable paleo-seawater chemistry on the behavior of the proxy and its response to multiple carbonate chemistry parameters.

Education
M.Phil.
Columbia University
01/2017
M.A.
Columbia University
04/2015
B.A.
Pomona College
05/2013
Logan Brenner
Personal Information
Logan
Brenner
Graduate Research Fellow
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Biology and Paleo Environment
Contact Information
104 Geoscience
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8727

Fax: 

(845) 365-8150

My paleoclimatology/paleoceanography research focuses on using fossil and modern corals to reconstruct past climate conditions. My goal is to enhance our understanding of past climate, particularly ocean conditions, through the geochemical analysis of corals. I am specifically interested in abrupt, millenial climate change and glacial/interglacial transitions.

At the moment I am studying modern and fossil corals from the Great Barrier Reef using stable d18O analysis to compare the Last Glacial Maximum and current interglacial phase. Furthermore, the fossil corals have not yet been used in paleoclimate studies so another important focus of the project is to determine the best sampling methodology and expand the arsenal of corals used in future analyses.

Allison Jacobel
Personal Information
Allison
Jacobel
Graduate Student
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Geochemistry
Contact Information
421 Comer
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8926

Fax: 

(845) 365-8155

Fields of interest: 

Paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, isotope geochemistry

Please visit my website for a list of publications, a full CV and more up to date information about my current projects.

My research goals focus on furthering our understanding of the climate system through the application of geochemical techniques and reconstruction of paleoclimatic records. Specifically, I am interested in glacial/interglacial tranistions in climate and the mechanisms that amplify insolation forcing. My current project focuses on reconstructing past movements of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) using 232Th, (231Pa/230Th)xs,0 and and 230Th normalized productivity proxies. The goal of this project is to ground-truth hypotheses about the mechanisms moving CO2 to/from the deep ocean on glacial/interglacial timescales.

 

Education
M.Phil. Earth and Environmental Studies
Columbia University
07/2015
M.A. Earth and Environmental Studies
Columbia University
05/2013
B.A. Geology
Macalester College
05/2011
Alejandra Borunda
Personal Information
Alejandra
Borunda
Graduate Research Fellow
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Geochemistry
Contact Information
borunda.jpg
427 Comer
61 Route 9W - PO Vox 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8572

Fax: 

(845) 365-8155
Pratigya Polissar
Personal Information
Pratigya
Polissar
Lamont Associate Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Contact Information
210 Geoscience
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964
US
(845) 365-8400

Fax: 

(845) 365-8150
Education
Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
05/2005
M.Sc.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
08/1999
B.A.
Hampshire College
05/1995
Committee member of Jonathan LaRiviere (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Committee member of Cassaundra Meyers (DEES, Columbia)
Committee member of Yonaton Golsdsmith (DEES, Columbia)
Selected Publications:
Reduced El Niño–Southern Oscillation during the Last Glacial Maximum, Ford, H.L.; Ravelo, A.C.; Polissar, P.J. Science 01/2015, Volume: 347, Issue: 6219 p.: 255-258 (2015) 10.1126/science.1258437
Glacial-Interglacial Changes in Central Tropical Pacific Surface Seawater Property Gradients, Lynch-Stieglitz, J.; Polissar, P.; Jacobel, A.W.; Hovan, S.; Pockalny, R.; Lyle, M.; Murray, R.; Ravelo, A.C.; Bova, S.; Dunlea, A.; Ford, H.; Hertzberg, J.; Wertman, C.; Maloney, A.; Shackford, J.; Wejnert, K.; Xie, R. Paleoceanography (2015)
A 6,000-yr Lake Record of Drought from the Pacific Northwest, Nelson, D. N.; Abbott, M. B.; Steinman, B.; Polissar, P. J.;Stansell, N.S.; Ortiz, J. S.; Rosenmeier, M. F.; Finney, B.; Riedel, J. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2011) 10.1073/pnas.1009194108
Extractable organic material in fault zones as a tool to investigate frictional stress, Polissar, P. J.; Savage, H. M.; Brodsky, E. E. Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2011)
Effects of aridity and vegetation on plant-wax δD in modern lake sediments, Polissar, Pratigya J.; Freeman, Katherine H. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume: 74 p.: 5785-5797 (2010) 10.1016/j.gca.2010.06.018
Paleoaltimetry of the Tibetan Plateau from D/H ratios of lipid biomarkers, Polissar, P. J.;Freeman K. H.;Rowley D. B.;Mcinerney F. A.;Currie B. S. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume: 287 p.: 64-76 (2009) 10.1016/j.epsl.2009.07.037
Measurement of 13C and 15N Isotopic Composition on Nanomolar Quantities of C and N, Polissar, P. J.; Fulton, J. M.; Junium,C. K.;Turich,C. C.;Freeman, K. H. Analytical Chemistry, Volume: 81, Issue: 2 p.: 755-763 (2009) 10.1016/j.yqres.2006.07.005
Last Glacial Maximum equilibrium-line altitude and paleo-temperature reconstructions for the Cordillera de Mérida, Venezuelan Andes, Stansell, N.; Polissar, P. J.;Abbott, M. B. Quaternary Research, Volume: 67 p.: 115-127 (2007) 10.1016/j.yqres.2006.07.005
Solar modulation of Little Ice Age climate in the tropical Andes, Polissar, P. J.; Abbott, M. B.;Wolfe, A. P.;Bezada, M.;Rull, V.;Bradley, R. S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume: 103, Issue: 24 p.: 8937-8942 (2006) 10.1073 pnas.0603118103
Hydrologic balance of tropical South America from oxygen isotopes of lake sediment opal, Polissar, P. J.; Abbott, M. B.; Shemesh, A.; Wolfe, A. P.;Bradley, R. S. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume: 242 p.: 375-389 (2006) 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.12.024
Late Quaternary deglacial history of the Mérida Andes, Venezuela, Stansell, N. D.;Abbott, M. B.;Polissar, P. J.;Wolfe, A. P.;Bezada, M.;Rull, V. Journal of Quaternary Science, Volume: 20, Issue: 7-8 p.: 801-812 (2005) doi:10.1002/jqs.973
15,000-yr pollen record of vegetation change in the high altitude tropical Andes at Laguna Verde Alta, Venezuela, Rull, V.;Abbott, M. B.;Polissar, P. J.; Wolfe, A. P.;Bezada, M.;Bradley, R. S. Quaternary Research, Volume: 64 p.: 308-317 (2005) 10.1016/j.yqres.2005.08.014
Lake records of Holocene climate change, Cordillera de Mérida, Venezuela, Polissar, Pratigya J. Geosciences, Amherst (2005)
Holocene paleohydrology and glacial history of the central Andes using multiproxy lake sediment studies, Abbott, M. B.; Wolfe, B. B.; Wolfe, A. P.; Seltzer, G. O.; Aravena, R.; Mark, B. G.; Polissar, P. J.;Rodbell, D. T.;Rowe, H. D.;Vuille, M. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Volume: 194 p.: 123-138 (2003) 10.1016/S0031-0182(03)00274-8
Carbon isotopes in aquatic plants, Long Valley caldera, California as records of past hydrothermal and magmatic activity, Reid Jr., J. B.;Reynolds, J. L.; Connolly, N. T.; Getz, S. L.; Polissar, P. J.; Winship, L. J.; Hainsworth, L. J. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume: 25, Issue: 15 p.: 2853-2856 (1998) 10.1029/98GL01854
Using the sunspot cycle to date ice cores, Steig, E. J.;Morse, D. L.; Waddington, E. D.; Polissar, P. J. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume: 25, Issue: 2 p.: 163-166 (1998) 10.1029/97GL03566
Large amplitude solar modulation cycles of 10Be in Antarctica: implications for atmospheric mixing processes and interpretation of the ice core record, Steig, E. J.; Polissar, P. J.; Stuiver, M.; Grootes, P. M.; Finkel, R. C. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume: 23, Issue: 5 p.: 523 (1996) 10.1029/96GL00255
Sliding rocks at the Racetrack, Death Valley: What makes them move?, Reid Jr., J. B.; Bucklin, E. P.; Copenagle, L.; Kidder, J.; Pack, S. M.; Polissar, P. J.;Williams, M. L. Geology, Volume: 23, Issue: 9 p.: 819-822 (1995) 10.1130/0091-7613(1995)​023<0819:SRATRD>​2.3.CO;2

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