September 2, 2009
WOOSTER, Ohio - Greg Wiles, associate professor of geology at The College of Wooster,
has received a $93,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue
his research on global climate change. He will work collaboratively with the
U.S. Army, Columbia University, and the National Park Service to reconstruct
North Pacific climate variability through multi-millennial tree-ring research
in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
"The ice has receded some 120 kilometers in this region and exposed thousands of
logs that can be incorporated into tree-ring chronologies, extending our record
of climate variability back multiple thousands of years," said Wiles.
"It's conceivable that we could eventually go back 10,000 years, which
would give us a much more complete record of temperature variability."
Glacier Bay, a fjord complex along the Gulf of Alaska is a climatically sensitive
region according to Wiles. "Our existing multi-species database of
tree-ring chronologies for the Gulf of Alaska and now for Glacier Bay and vicinity
closely tracks sea-surface temperatures and other ocean-atmosphere phenomena
that is critical to the global climate system," he said. "The
tree-ring dating of these ancient forests will add calendar-dated detail to the
glacial history of this dynamic tidewater glacier system, and the resulting
ring data will provide an independent record of North Pacific
The climate studies and glacial histories will enable Wiles and fellow researchers
to test specific hypotheses about North Pacific climate variability and help to
put the dramatic contemporary ice retreat in Glacier Bay into a long-term
The grant will also provide support for student researchers to assist in the
process and gather data for their Independent Study project (Wooster's
nationally acclaimed senior capstone project, which matches a student with a
faculty mentor in a yearlong research project that culminates in a
graduate-level thesis, performance, or exhibition). Eight students will have an
opportunity to conduct undergraduate research through this grant.
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