Collaborative Research: DIAGNOSING THE TIMING AND DRIVERS OF NORTHEASTERN CARIBBEAN HOLOCENE DROUGHTS WITH SINKHOLE LAKE RECORDS
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This century, 80% of the world could face insufficient water necessary for food production, energy and national security, human health, and ecosystems. The United Nations estimates that Caribbean losses related to climate change by 2080 will be $11.2B, with $3.8B from drought. Rainfall in the Caribbean and American southeast is linked to similar ocean and atmospheric factors. However, geologic records of rainfall document extreme Caribbean megadroughts lasting tens to hundreds of years over the last several millennia. This project aims to identify and communicate the causes and drivers of these megadroughts through research and teaching American students at 3 institutions. It will help the United States, developing nations, and small island nations mitigate future water security risks.Climate model forecasts of rainfall changes in the American southeast and Caribbean for this century are currently equivocal, and available paleoclimate archives from the Caribbean document extreme megadroughts with a severity not observed in the instrumental era. These droughts were apparently not uniform across the Caribbean, and their causes remain poorly understood. Here, the investigators propose to develop a network of long-term rainfall records from key portions of the northern Caribbean using established geologic techniques and state-of-the-art climate modeling to diagnose the climatic drivers of Caribbean droughts.This award is cofunded by the Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change Program and the Office of International Science and Engineering.