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New Climate Analysis Tools Lead to Better Predictions
Released: 3/3/2011 5:45:42 PM

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PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. – U.S. Geological Survey scientists who study trends in climate change will be presenting the results from new studies at the Pacific Climate Workshop held in Pacific Grove, California, at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, March 6-9.

USGS scientists use a variety of tools to uncover evidence of climate connections including tree-ring patterns, ocean and lake sediments, geochemistry, micropaleontology, and climate modeling.  The application of these tools in the evaluation of past climate variability and prediction of future change is the topic of the workshop. 

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, from the impact of rapid warming on the Sierra Nevada snowpack and the role of sea surface temperature in the abundance and distribution of fog on the California coast, to the record of freshwater variability over the past several thousand years in the watershed of the Colorado River and changes in timing of spring flowering in the western U.S.

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 swordfish and marlin off the Oregon coast, when they are normally found in warmer waters far to the south, and flooding in Southern California seem unconnected, but both are examples of the intimate relationship between conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the adjacent continent. In the west, trees are flowering earlier in the year, affecting the animals that rely on them as a food source; there is less snow in the Sierra Nevada, and it is melting earlier in the year, leaving less water available for irrigation in the summer; and flood events and winter storms are increasing in intensity. There is renewed interest in the atmospheric conditions that led to extensive flooding in the Central Valley in 1862 and using that information to predict how well California can respond if a similar storm system were to hit California today.

See conference session titles below for research presented by USGS scientists at the Pacific Climate Workshop.



All oral presentations will be held in the Fred Farr Forum, Asilomar Conference Grounds



9:50-10:15 a.m.          

Examining Gulf of Alaska Marine Paleoclimate at Seasonal to Decadal Timescales

Jason A. Addison (USGS – Menlo Park), Bruce P. Finney (Idaho State University), and Joseph S. Stoner (Oregon State University)


11:00-11:25 a.m.

Projected Sea-Level Rise Impacts on the Salt Marsh Landscapes of San Francisco Bay, California and its Resident Salt Marsh Wildlife Species

John Takekawa (USGS – WERC), Karen Thorne (USGS – WERC), Kyle Spragens (USGS – WERC), Michael Casazza (USGS – WERC), Cory Overton (USGS – WERC), Judith Drexler (USGS – CA WSC), Dave Schoellhammer (USGS – CA WSC), and Kathleen Swanson (USGS – CA WSC)


2:45-3:10 p.m.

Fossil Wetlands in the Deserts of the American Southwest

Jeffrey S. Pigati (USGS – Denver)


4:20-4:45 p.m.

Projected Climate Changes and Flood Risks in California

Michael D. Dettinger (USGS – SIO), Tapash Das (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Daniel R. Cayan (USGS – SIO), and Theresa Carpenter (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)


4:45-5:10 p.m.

An Empirical Method to Forecast the Effect of Storm Intensity on Shallow Landslide Abundance

Jonathan D. Stock (USGS – Menlo Park) and Dino Bellugi (University of California – Berkeley)



10:35-11:00 a.m.

Extending the Record of Abrupt and Millennial-Scale Climate and Ocean Change Through the Mid-Pleistocene Transition in Santa Barbara Basin, California

Richard J. Behl (CSU – Long Beach), Sara Afshar (CSU – Long Beach), James P. Kennett (University of California – Santa Barbara), Craig Nicholson (University of California – Davis), Christopher C. Sorlien (University of California – Santa Barbara), Courtney J. Marshall (CSU – Long Beach), Tessa M. Hill (University of California – Davis), Sarah M. White (University of California – Davis), Walter E. Dean (USGS – Denver), and John A. Barron (USGS – Menlo Park)


11:25-11:50 a.m.

Geochemical Evidence for Changes In Surface-Water Productivity and Bottom-Water Redox Conditions During Glacial-Interglacial Transitions in the Santa Barbara Basin

Walter Dean (USGS – Denver)


1:30 -1:55 p.m.

Evidence for Late Holocene Hydrologic Change at Big Soda Lake, a Maar Lake in Northwest Nevada

Liam Reidy (University of California – Berkeley), Roger Byrne (University of California – Berkeley), Lynn Ingram (University of California – Berkeley), Michael Rosen (USGS – NV WSC), and Marith Reheis (USGS – Denver)


1:55-2:20 p.m.

Evidence of Hydrological Changes Caused By Human Disturbance Recorded in Nitrogen and Carbon Isotopes From Big Soda and Pyramid Lakes, Nevada

Michael R. Rosen (USGS – NV WSC), Liam Reidy (University of California – Berkeley), Simon Poulson (University of Nevada – Reno), Carol Kendall (USGS – Menlo Park), Roger Byrne (University of California – Berkeley), and Marith Reheis (USGS – Denver)


2:45-3:10 p.m.

A New Look at the Chronology for a Classic Pleistocene Lake: Lake Bonneville’s Provo Shoreline

David M. Miller (USGS – Menlo Park), Charles G. Oviatt (Kansas State University), and John P. Mcgeehin (USGS – Reston)


7:00-8:00 p.m.

Hawaiian Forest Birds: The Past, Present and Future Status of an Endangered Avifauna

Dennis A. LaPointe (USGS – PIERC), Carter T. Atkinson (USGS – PIERC), Paul C. Banko (USGS – PIERC), Richard J. Camp (University of Hawai’I – Hilo), P. Marcos Gorresen (University of Hawai’I – Hilo), James D. Jacobi (USGS – PIERC), Thane K. Pratt (USGS – PIERC), and Michael D. Samuel (USGS – WCWRU)          



9:00-9:25 a.m.

Post-Glacial Plant Migrations are Similar to Historic and Ongoing Dispersal and Succession

Kenneth L. Cole (USGS – SBSC), Kirsten Ironside (Northern Arizona University), and Neil Cobb (Northern Arizona University)


10:15-10:35 a.m.

Projected 21st Century Trends in Hydroclimatology of the Tahoe Basin

Robert Coats (University of California – Davis), Mariza Costa-Cabral (Hydrology Futures), Michael Dettinger (USGS – SIO), John Riverson (Tetra Tech, Inc.), John Reuter (University of California – Davis), Goloka Sahoo (University of California – Davis), Geoffrey Schladow (University of California – Davis), and Brent Wolfe (Northwest Hydraulic Consultants)


10:35-11:00 a.m.

Hydrologic Response to Climate Change and Habitat Resiliency Illustrated Using Fine-Scale Watershed Modeling

Alan L. Flint (USGS – Sacramento), Lorraine E. Flint (USGS – Sacramento), Elisabeth Micheli (Pepperwood Preserve), Stuart B. Weiss (Creekside Center for Earth Observation), and Morgan Kennedy (Pepperwood Preserve)


11:00-11:25 a.m.

Long-Term Snowpack Variability and Change in the North American Cordillera

Gregory T. Pederson (USGS – NRMSC), Stephen T. Gray (University of Wyoming), Connie A. Woodhouse (University of Arizona), Julio L. Betancourt (USGS – Tucson), Daniel B. Fagre (USGS – NRMSC), Jeremy S. Littell (University of Washington), Emma Watson (Environment Canada), Brian H. Luckman (University of Western Ontario), and Lisa J. Graumlich (University of Washington)



All poster presentations will be held in the Kiln building, Asilomar Conference Grounds


Multi-Proxy Evidence For Middle And Late Holocene Fluctuations In Climate Regime In The North-Central Great Basin

Lysanna Anderson (USGS – Menlo Park), Dave Wahl (USGS – Menlo Park), Scott Starratt (USGS – Menlo Park), and Elmira Wan (USGS – Menlo Park)


Response Of Diatom And Silicoflagellate Assemblages To Climate Change In The Santa Barbara Basin During The Past 177 Years And  The Rise Of The Toxic Diatom Pseudo-Nitzschia Australis

John A. Barron (USGS – Menlo Park), David Bukry (USGS – Menlo Park), and David B. Field (Hawaii Pacific University)


Occurrence Of Severe Drought Conditions In Coastal Southern California During The Medieval Climate Anomaly Inferred From Pollen Deposited In Santa Barbara Basin Since ~800 A.D.

Linda Heusser (LDEO), John Barron (USGS – Menlo Park), and Ingrid Hendy (University of Michigan)


Effects Of Baseline Conditions On The Similated Hydrologic Response To Projected Climate Change: A Case Study Of The Almanor Catchment, North Fork Of The Feather River Basin, California

Kathryn M. Koczot (USGS – CA WSC), Steven L. Markstrom (USGS – Denver), and Lauren E. Hay (USGS – Denver)


Latest Quaternary Paleoceanographic Changes On The Farallon Escarpment Off Central California

Mary McGann (USGS – Menlo Park)


Rainfall, Runoff, And Post-Wildfire Geomorphic Transport Processes

Kevin M. Schmidt (USGS – Menlo Park), Maiana N. Hanshaw (USGS – Menlo Park), James F. Howle (USGS – NV WSC), and Jonathan D. Stock (USGS – Menlo Park)


Late Holocene Enso Variability In The Central Pacific: Preliminary Data From Palmyra Atoll

David Wahl (USGS – Menlo Park), Alexis Viscaino (Stanford University), Rob Dunbar (Stanford University), and Lysanna Anderson(USGS – Menlo Park)

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