Unit Affiliation: Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)
This award will support the collection and analyses of samples from the geomorphic record of South Island, New Zealand. The project objectives tackle the critical problem of what causes ice ages in the Southern Hemisphere, and how the observed climate changes compare with those in the Northern Hemisphere. Personnel involved come from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and University of California Berkeley. The investigators will work in collaboration with geomorphologists, modelers, ecologists, and glacial and climate experts, which includes scientists in New Zealand. The methods to be employed are state-of-the-art techniques in cosmogenic surface exposure dating, geomorphic mapping, and glacial modeling. The new terrestrial record of past glacial behavior, tied with secure chronologies, will provide insight into climate changes in the New Zealand and how they compare with those in the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Ocean. Such comparisons will be used to test models of ice-age climate. Understanding the causes of ice ages is among the most important goals in climate science. The results will be particularly useful to the geomorphic community, as they will provide a high-resolution history of how this terrain and this part of the world responds to climate forcing.
Broader impacts include the education of graduate students, undergraduate and high school assistants, and development of junior scientists. Major findings will be presented to the staff at one of the busiest national parks in the world. The new knowledge will be garnered with scientists in New Zealand, who are developing high-resolution maps that can be used as a template to archive geomorphic and geochronologic data. The research involves international collaborations between researchers towards the start of their careers and hence will facilitate long-term relations. The results will be of interest to a variety of Earth Science disciplines including but limited to global climate change, paleoceanography, geochronology, geomorphology, and glacial and climate modeling.