Collaborative Research: Reconstructing Spatiotemporal Climatic Patterns for Northeastern Canada

Lead PI: Dr. Brendan M. Buckley , Dr. Rosanne D'Arrigo

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

June 2016 - May 2019
North America ; Newfoundland ; Labrador ; Mealy Mountains Park
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This collaborative project generally aims to generate new tree-ring data from Blue Intensity (BI is proposed as a direct proxy for density) and three anatomical measurements of cell number (CN), lumen diameter (LD) and cell wall thickness (CWT) all of which have proposed links to climate. New tree-ring samples will be collected along a latitudinal transect to fill a large spatial gap in paleoclimatic data and potentially allow the inference of spatial shifts and patterns in climatic variability over the past several centuries.

This transect extends from southern, coastal to near-coastal sites in Newfoundland and southeastern Labrador to the Mealy Mountains Park and Reserve in central Labrador, and to latitudinal treeline near Napaktok Fjord north of Nain and outlier sites just to the north. These new collections will be used to update existing datasets and better quantify past climate and environmental variability across space and time and extend the record into the Medieval Climate Anomaly.

The climate of Labrador and Newfoundland is largely determined by the prevailing western North Atlantic's atmosphere-ocean dynamics including effects of the Labrador Sea, a key component of the Earth's thermohaline circulation system. Other influences include dominant climate modes such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Reconstructions of northwest Atlantic sector sea surface temperatures (SST), land temperature, sea-ice extent and hydroclimate, as well as analyses of instrumental and reanalysis data, could potentially improve the current knowledge of climate change in this highly dynamic region.

The overarching research questions are: 1) What are the underlying causes and patterns of long-term climate variability across the region? 2) How does the climate of the anthropogenic period compare with prior centuries?

This project involves the potential for a unique and potentially transformative analytical technique (i.e., Blue Intensity) for exploring climate processes in circumpolar regions. There is also outreach to Labrador's northernmost village of Nain, where communities must cope with severe socioeconomic challenges amid recent climatic extremes.