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Trends in Climate Change: Connections Between Land, Sea and Air
Released: 4/16/2009 12:21:21 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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USGS at Pacific Climate Workshop

New studies about the timing and geographic distribution of terrestrial, marine, and atmospheric climate connections will be the focus of the 24th Pacific Climate Workshop (PACLIM). The conference will be held April 19-22, 2009 at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, California.

USGS scientists who study trends in climate change will present results from that uncover evidence of climate connections, from tree-ring patterns, to micropaleontology, to climate modeling.

In the mid-20th century, John Steinbeck wrote of the anchovy and sardine industry in Monterey Bay and the drought-induced migration of thousands of farm workers from the Great Plains to the Central Valley of California. Little did he know that the two were joined through the atmosphere.

Over the past few decades, the occasional presence of warm water species such as swordfish and marlin off the Oregon coast, and flooding in southern California seemed unconnected.  Yet both are examples of the intimate relationship between conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the adjacent continent. Other examples include:

  • Trees flowering earlier in the year, affecting the animals that rely on them as a food source.
  • Less snow in the Sierra Nevada that is melting earlier in the year, leaving less water available for irrigation in the summer.
  • Flood events and winter storms are increasing in intensity.

Knowledge of these marine-terrestrial interactions is being used to project possible responses to future, large-scale changes in temperature and precipitation

USGS scientists will be presenting the results of new analyses on the connection between higher sea surface temperatures in the eastern North Pacific Ocean and precipitation in the watersheds across the western U.S., including the Colorado River, the Mojave Desert, and the Great Basin. Additional presentations will discuss changes in the temperature and productivity in the California Current on timescales from hundreds to thousands of years, and how these cycles affect precipitation in Hawai'i. These changes in marine conditions along the California coast have an impact on vegetation and fire history, and ultimately, on the migration of Native American cultures.

Organized and partially funded by the USGS, the conference brings together university, state, and federal government scientists from around the country for presentations and discussions on various aspects of climate variability. Presentations include the impact of rapid warming on the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the role of sea surface temperature in the abundance and distribution of fog on the California coast, the record of freshwater variability over the past several thousand years in the Colorado River watershed, and changes in timing of spring flowering in the western U.S.

Highlights of research presented by USGS scientists at the Pacific Climate Workshop (PACLIM), Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, California, April 19-22, 2009.


All oral presentations will be held in the Fred Farr Forum, Asilomar Conference Grounds. All presenters are U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists unless otherwise noted.



Northern Hemisphere Modes Of Variability And The Timing Of Spring, Toby R. Ault, Alison K. Macalady, Greg Pederson (all University of Arizona), Julio L. Betancourt (USGS), and Mark D. Schwartz (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)


Climate Change And Cultural Response In The Prehistoric American Southwest, Larry V. Benson (USGS-Boulder)


Marine And Terrestrial Records Along The Pacific Coast Of North America Reveal Enhanced Expression Of Enso Cycles After ~4,200 Years Bp, John A. Barron


The Dynamic Nature Of Desert Wetlands- Holocene Changes In Sedimentation And Fire Regime On The Arizona/Mexico Border, Andrea Brunelle (University of Utah), Thomas Minckley (University of Wyoming), Shawn Blissett, Brenda Guzman (UNAM-Baja California), and Scott Starratt (USGS)



Sediment Geochemical Records Of Productivity And Oxygen Depletion Along The Margin Of Western North America During The Past 60,000 Years: Teleconnections With The Greenland Ice And The Cariaco Basin, Walter E. Dean


Chronology Of Pluvial Lake Coyote, California, And Implications For 25,000 To 10,000 Cal Yr B.P. Mojave River Paleohydrology, David M. Miller (USGS), Stephanie L. Dudash (Montrose, CO), and John P. McGeehin (USGS)


Late Pleistocene Shoreline Fluctuations Of Lake Manix, Mojave Desert:  Paleoclimate Implications, Marith C. Reheis, David M. Miller, and John P. McGeehin



Holocene Hydroclimate Of The Upper Colorado River Basin :  Decade-To- Century-Scale Variability From Small, Calcareous Alpine Lakes, Lesleigh Anderson, Joseph G. Rosenbaum (both UGSG), Erik T. Brown (University of Minnesota-Duluth), Mark D. Shapley (Idaho State University)


Variability Between Western Usa Lakes And Marine Sequences: A 50,000-13,000 Year Record From Pyramid Lake, Steve Lund (University of Southern California), Larry Benson (USGS), Scott Mensing (University of Nevada-Reno), Joe Smoot (USGS), Joe Liddocoat (Barnard College), Robert Negrini (California State University-Bakersfield), and Martha Schwartz (University of Southern California)


All poster presentations, available throughout the meeting, will be held in the Kiln Room, Asilomar Conference Grounds

The Stratigraphic Record Of The Lower Colorado River - Possible Climate Connections
Daniel V. Malmon, Keith A. Howard, Peter M. Martin, John P. McGeehin, Elmira Wan, and Shannon Mahan

Decadal Variability In Groundwater As Recorded In A Coral Proxy Record From Moloka'i, Hawai'i
Nancy G. Prouty and Mike E. Field

Correlating Late Glacial And Holocene Marine And Lacustrine Climate Records In Northern California
Scott W. Starratt and John A. Barron

Holocene Climate Variability In The Ruby Mountains, Nevada: A Perspective From The North-Central Great Basin
David Wahl, Scott Starratt, Elmira Wan, Jim Wanket (CSUS), Holly Olson, Thomas Lloyd-Davies, Jennifer Kusler (CSUS)

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