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Presented By: Earth and Environmental Sciences

Smith Lecture - Bronwen Konecky, Washington University in St. Louis

Fingerprinting changes in the global water cycle over the Common Era

Recent global syntheses of paleoclimate proxy data from the Common Era (the past ~2,000 years) have provided important context for how global temperature varied prior to, and after, the industrial revolution. Synthesizing hydroclimate paleodata, however, has remained an ongoing challenge due to the complexity of the global water cycle as well as the complexity of hydro-sensitive paleoclimate proxies. This presentation shares a new effort to evaluate changes in the global water cycle during the Common Era through proxies that track the stable oxygen and hydrogen isotopic composition of environmental waters (e.g., precipitation, lake water, seawater). More than 600 records were compiled from globally distributed, diverse geologic archives such as speleothems, corals, lake and marine sediments, ice cores, and tree rings. We use this compilation and an isotope-enabled climate model to investigate regional to global scale variations in the water cycle during the Common Era, particularly during the last millennium. We then explore applications to regional climate features, including the Pacific Walker Circulation and regional responses to volcanic eruptions. We leverage both modern and paleo data in order to provide unique perspectives on how the water cycle behaves as the planet warms and cools.

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