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When the Earth Warms: Paleoceanography at the Southern Ice Margin in the Bering Sea during Three Glacial-Interglacial Transitions


Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Ocean & fiord systems
Project topic
Computer science & e-learning

Project details

Science / project summary

The focus of this project is to document the past temporal and spatial variability of Bering Sea paleoceanography through analyses of sediment cores. The project builds on the PI’s prior work creating diatom-based, quantitative and qualitative sea ice proxies in the Bering Sea and participating in large syntheses of North Pacific SST and sea ice distribution since the Last Glacial Maximum. The project will be led by a junior faculty member and will support a female postdoctoral scholar. It will provide the basis for a PhD thesis and also expose undergraduates to paleoclimate research in the lab. This work will be communicated clearly and concisely to the general public in several ways, with emphasis on engaging women and girls in paleoceanography. The project has four components: (1) building a dynamic, web-based database of North Pacific paleoceanographic records, (2) using this database to identify spatial and temporal gaps in Bering Sea paleoceanography during three warm periods of Earth history in the past 500,000 years, (3) sampling archived cores to create new, multi-proxy records that can be used for (a) reconstructing sea ice extent, (b) differentiating between the presence of sea ice versus glacial ice, (c) reconstructing sea surface temperatures, and (d) evaluating ventilation and ocean structure, productivity at various ocean levels, changes in the oxygen content of water masses, and the provenance of organic matter, and (4) synthesizing Bering Sea paleoceanographic records to examine variability on glacial-interglacial and millennial timescales. The goals of the project are: (1) to advance understanding of the location of the winter sea ice edge in the North Pacific over time, (2) to determine what aspects of the climate system control the location of the winter sea ice edge: heat export, sea surface temperature, or atmospheric circulation, and (3) to infer how primary productivity is affected by decreasing sea ice extent.