Collaborative Research: Understanding the Impacts of Extreme Events on the Peoples of the Arctic

Lead PI: Dr. Rosanne D'Arrigo

Unit Affiliation: Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

October 2021 - September 2024
North America
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2).

This project employs paleoclimatological and historical datasets to document environmental changes and their effects on Indigenous populations in northwestern North America. The investigators will compile and analyze tree-ring data to identify extreme climatic events for the period known as the Little Ice Age (~1450–1850). The tree-ring evidence will be compared to historical weather observations and Indigenous ethnohistories documenting human impacts (e.g., famine, migration). This project will test hypotheses regarding the response and sensitivity of Arctic communities and ecosystems to extreme environmental change, with emphasis on the impacts of volcanic forcing. Project goals include documenting climate history of northwestern North America using tree rings and determining the degree of convergence between the tree-ring data and historical, proxy and Indigenous evidence of extreme environmental change.

Broader impacts of this project include the development of a series of multimedia undergraduate lab exercises focused on dendrochronology. These labs will familiarize students with the scientific use of tree-rings to reconstruct climate; the associated website will make the exercises available to educators nation-wide. The PI team will also work with an educational expert to develop a high-school-level climate change curriculum for use in local Indigenous communities. Research results will be disseminated via professional conferences and scientific publications.