Climate change forecasts depend on an accurate estimate of the trend in global temperatures due to human activities. However it is difficult to separate this trend from high frequency internal variability, especially with the short instrumental temperature records available. My PhD research in paleoclimatology in the Cohen lab extends the ocean temperature record using the chemical composition of massive, long-lived coral skeletons.
Questions that motivate my research include:
- How much did tropical ocean temperatures decrease during the Little Ice Age, ~1600-1850, a period of naturally reduced radiation?
- How might this inform forecasts of future temperature increase due to human-caused increases in radiation?
- How can compositional changes in coral skeleton due to temperature shifts be separated from those due to changes in coral growth and calcification rates?
Working in an interdisciplinary field at the interface of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology is both fascinating and challenging. My work is informed by my experience understanding interactions within the complex climate system and my enthusiasm for tackling difficult problems.
Link to publication