Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
January 19, 2016
Lake oxygen isotopes as recorders of North American Rocky Mountain hydroclimate: Holocene patterns and variability at multi-decadal to millennial time scales
By Lesleigh Anderson (GECSC), Max Berkelhammer, John Barron, Byron Steinman, Bruce Finney, and Mark Abbott. Published in Global and Planetary Change.
One of the pressing questions about the hydroclimate of the North American west is the role of Pacific ocean-atmosphere modes such as El Niño and La Niña. This is a difficult question for global climate models to address whereas there is abundant evidence from paleorecords based on lake sediment oxygen isotopes. This invited review article presents an overview of 18 lake sediment oxygen isotope records along with a new compilation of lake water isotopes that are used to characterize lake sediment sensitivity to precipitation. The study of these records indicate that further investigation of precipitation patterns on short (observational) and long (Holocene) time scales is needed to improve understanding of the processes that drive regional precipitation responses to Pacific ocean-atmosphere variability, which in turn, will lead to a better understanding of internal Pacific ocean-atmosphere variability and its response to external climate forcing mechanisms.
January 7, 2016
Desert Wetlands—Archives of a Wetter Past
By Jeff Pigati (GECSC), Kathleen Springer (GECSC), and Craig Manker. USGS Factsheet 2015-3077.
Once thought of as stagnant and unchanging, new evidence suggests that springs and wetlands in the Las Vegas Valley of southern Nevada responded dynamically to past episodes of abrupt climate change. GECSC scientists are now studying wetland deposits throughout the arid American Southwest to determine how closely conditions in the desert were tied to regional and global climate patterns in the past, and what it might mean for the fragile ecosystems in light of anticipated climate change in the future. This Factsheet gives a brief overview of this research and presents some of the latest findings.
January 5, 2016
Evaluating connection of aquifers to springs and streams, Great Basin National Park and vicinity, Nevada
By David Prudic, Don Sweetkind (GECSC), Tracie Jackson, Elaine Dotson, Russell Plume, Christine Hatch, and Keith Halford. USGS Professional Paper 1819.
This report presents results of a four-year study (2008-2012) conducted by scientists from the USGS and the University of Nevada, Reno to improve understanding of and connections between surface water and groundwater hydrologic systems in the vicinity of Great Basin National Park. Proposed groundwater withdrawals in Snake Valley, Nevada potentially threaten streams and spring-discharge areas in and adjacent to the Park and numerous water-dependent ecosystems on Federal lands in Snake Valley, Nevada. This report presents findings that detail the interaction of these hydrologic systems based on comprehensive geologic, hydrologic, and geochemical studies.
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