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Department of Geography

Carolina geographers awarded NSF grant

USC and UNC professors team up to examine 19th-century climate extremes in the western US and Canada

Dr. Erika Wise (University of North Carolina) and Dr. Cary Mock (University of South Carolina) have recently been awarded a 3-year National Science Foundation grant entitled “High Frequency Hydroclimate Extremes and Synoptic Climate Drivers in Western North America at the End of the Little Ice Age." Their research project will integrate historical climatology and dendroclimatology to address climate extremes in the West Coast states of the US and in western Canada during the 1800s, a time period that includes a range of climate extremes that are not represented in the instrumental record.

Combining 19th-century historical data obtained from archives and repositories with tree-ring data will help Professors Mock and Wise to reconstruct seasonal precipitation during this period of climate extremes. They will use reanalysis data, gridded paleoclimate reconstruction data, and paleoclimate model output to assess synoptic climate drivers of those extremes.

Dr. Mock will lead the research efforts to collect the historical climate data. Understanding extreme climate events at a seasonal level for this region has broad societal implications, he notes, as these extremes have implications for agriculture, water supply, power generation, fire, and other sectors.

An additional aspect of their project is educational. At the university level, graduate and undergraduate students will be trained in research methods and their dissemination, while future generations of scientists will be engaged through K–12 educational outreach activities.

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