NAU Doctoral Student Leads Paleoclimate Study of Precipitation and Sea Ice in Arctic Alaska

Arctic sea ice is rapidly diminishing due to global warming, and scientists have found that sea ice dynamics have a big impact on circulation and precipitation patterns in Arctic Alaska, which lies at a climatological crossroads between the Arctic and North Pacific oceans.


Recent studies—most of which focus on current trends in the region and on what will happen in the future—have shown that circulation patterns in the Arctic and North Pacific oceans influence one another.

Northern Arizona University doctoral candidate Ellie Broadman of Northern Arizona University’s School of Earth and Sustainability wanted to learn about this relationship on a longer timescale, so she developed and led a study in Arctic Alaska to investigate it. She is the lead author on a paper detailing her team’s findings, “Coupled impacts of sea ice variability and North Pacific atmospheric circulation on Holocene hydroclimate in Arctic Alaska,” which was recently published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team, which included NAU Regents’ Professor and prominent paleoclimatologist Darrell Kaufman and four noted British scientists as collaborators, compiled a new record of hydroclimatic change in the past 10,000 years in Arctic Alaska, revealing that periods of reduced sea ice result in isotopically heavier precipitation derived from proximal Arctic moisture sources. The researchers supported their findings about this systematic relationship through isotope-enabled model simulations and a compilation of regional paleoclimate records.

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