CSRC researchers investigate Mid-Pleistocene Transition, a dramatic shift in earth’s climate 1.2 million years ago

A team of researchers including Kurt Lindberg ’20, the paper’s first author and a graduate student at the University at Buffalo, and CSRC researchers Isla Castaneda, Will Daniels, and Julie Brigham-Grette have published a study in Climate of the Past that investigated a shift in climate called the Mid-Pleistocene Transition. For this they used specific biomarkers to estimate temperature and vegetation properties to reconstruct the past climate. Read more in the UMass news release.

Boyang Zhao and colleagues publish study linking drought and abandonment of Norse settlements in southern Greenland in the 15th century

Ph.D candidate Boyang Zhao along with Ray Bradley and colleagues have published a study in the journal Science Advances that finds that extended drought, on top of other factors, may have led to the abandonment of Norse settlements in southern Greenland in the early 15th century. The team used hydrogen isotopes in leaf wax remnants in lake sediments and other data to conclude that the climate became progressively drier during the Norse period. Read more in the UMass news release, the journal article, and associated piece in Science.

Anna Ruth Halberstadt leads study resolves a long-standing discrepancy in the geologic record

In a paper publish recently in the journal Geology, Ruthie Halberstadt and coauthors Rob DeConto and Douglas E. Kowalewski addressed a discrepancy between marine data from the Ross Sea and data collected in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Ruthie completed this research as part of her P.h.D. in geosciences. Read more in the UMass news release and journal paper.

Ray Bradley publishes review article on past extreme tropical hydrological events

In a recent paper published in Reviews of Geophysics, UMass Distinguished Professor Raymond Bradley synthesized information from lake sediments, stalagmites, and offshore marine sediments to provide a comprehensive record of changes over the past ∼70,000 years. He and coauthor Henry Diaz describe how freshening of the subpolar North Atlantic led to a rapid reduction in the northward flux of heat by the ocean, subsequent reorganization of the atmospheric circulation, and, in turn, climate modifications in various parts of the world. Read the paper here.

Julie Brigham-Grette pens opinion piece on the myraid issues concerning climate geoengineering

Writing in The Hill, Geosciences Professor Julie Brigham-Grette and Pam Pearson, director of the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative, describe the lure of geoengineering, and it’s potential pitfalls, as a potential solution to anthropogenic global warming. “The stark reality: There is no magic technological fix.” Read the OpEd, Don’t look up (north)

Study reveals that humans reached remote North Atlantic islands centuries earlier than thought

In a study published in Communications Earth & Environment, Ray Bradley and colleagues, including former CSRC postdoctoral researcher William D’Andrea at Columbia University, suggest that an unknown band of humans settled there around A.D. 500 — some 350 years before the Vikings, who until recently were thought to be the first human inhabitants. The study is supported by lake sediment samples containing signs that domestic sheep suddenly appeared around 500, well before the Viking occupation.

What caused the Little Ice Age? UMass research points to a transfer of warm water from the tropics to the Arctic

Francois Lapointe and Ray Bradley have published a study in Science Advances that reveals that the Little Ice Age, one of the coldest periods of the past 10,000 years, was triggered by the transfer of warm Atlantic Ocean water from the tropics. The warming occurred during a time of high solar activity and few volcanic eruptions. Read more in the UMass news release and journal article.

Fourth warmest autumn on record for Northeast U.S.

December 8, 2021
Climate System Research Center
Climate analysis for autumn and summer-autumn 2021.

Temperature ranks for autumn (September-November) for U.S. regions. Accessed from National Centers for Environmental Information, National Climate Report – November 2021: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/202111

Meteorological autumn (Sep-Nov) was the fourth warmest on record for the Northeast U.S. Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island saw their third warmest autumn. A record warm October paced the autumn anomaly.

It was the third warmest autumn for the contiguous U.S.

Four of the five warmest autumns over the Northeast have occurred in the last 11 years (2011, 2015, 2021, 2016). The season is warming at a rate of 0.2 oF per decade since 1895.

Northeast U.S. average temperatures for autumn from 1895-2021. Chart accessed from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/regional/time-series/101/tavg/3/11/1895-2021?trend=true&trend_base=10&begtrendyear=1895&endtrendyear=2021

For minimum temperature, the Northeast experienced the highest average on record for both autumn and the summer-autumn period (Jun-Nov). Minimum temperatures for summer-fall were record warm at most sites in New England, including Boston, Providence, Worcester, and a majority of locations in Maine and New Hampshire. This year Boston had its warmest summer on record, and its year-to-date average temperature is on pace to be warmest ever recorded.

Temperature ranks for June-November period at first-order climate sites in the Northeast U.S. Data accessed from: http://www.nrcc.cornell.edu/wxstation/perspectives/perspectives.html

Autumn was wetter than normal across most of the region. Massachusetts received 16.5 inches of rain, the most of any state in the Northeast. This is 3.5 inches above normal, making for the 12th wettest autumn on record.

Information accessed from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information and the Northeast Regional Climate Center. Period of record is 127 years since 1895.