Climate Variability: Tropical Cyclones, Sea Level and Drought


Jeff Donnelly

The goal of my research program is to understand how climate variability changes tropical cyclone activity, alters sea levels, and affects water availability. Storms, sea-level fluctuations, and changing freshwater inputs play key roles in driving changes in many coastal systems, yet we know very little about how these environments respond to the complex interactions of these forcing mechanisms. Gaining a process-based understanding of how and why past environmental changes have occurred provides a framework for projecting future changes. We use sedimentological and stratigraphic proxy records of tropical cyclones, sea level, and drought that extend the instrumental record back millennia. Example projects include: 1) analyzing cores to characterize event deposits and reconstruct the history of tropical cyclone activity back many centuries to millennia , 2) Analyzing historical archives in order to extend the spatial and temporal coverage of records of tropical cyclone occurrence in order to examine how changing climate may have controlled activity, 3) Reconstructing wildfire frequency by analyzing charcoal preserved in sediment cores in order to examine links between fire and changing water availability and tropical cyclone disturbance.

Coastal Systems Group