Trek To Arctic Lake Brings Researchers A Step Closer To Refined Watershed Model

2015-10-05T13:16:05+00:00 October 5, 2015|
Arctic lake in summer (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

(Click to enlarge) Arctic lake in summer (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

To improve the accuracy of complex computer modeling, climate researchers in the Arctic are turning to natural features a little more in tune with longer time scales: glaciers and the lakes they feed.
(From — The contrast between high-speed computing and slow-moving natural systems reflects the landscape of climate research in a region protected by its isolation, yet sensitive to change.

During the spring and summer of 2015, four successive groups of researchers and students from Northern Arizona University performed what they called “tag team” science at Lake Peters in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. The multidisciplinary groups were gathering data for a $1 million, three-year National Science Foundation project funded by the NSF’s Arctic System Science Program.

“One thing the climate science community is working hard to understand is the challenging problem of how climate varies on time scales longer than what we can observe,” said Nick McKay, assistant professor at NAU and a member of the fourth research team. “We think climate models under-predict decadal to century-scale changes in climate.”

Sediment samples from Arctic lakes offer insights, and NAU Regents’ Professor Darrell Kaufman has been pursuing them for years. His research for the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability has involved the collection and analysis of sediment cores for clues about climate and environment. But local, short-term variables introduced new questions.

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