Earth Institute Research Projects

P2C2: North American Megadrought: Atmosphere-Ocean Forcing and Landscape Response from the Medieval Period to the Near-term Greenhouse Future

Lead PI: Dr. Richard Seager , Prof. Mark A. Cane , Peter B. deMenocal , Ron Miller, Benjamin Cook

Unit Affiliation: Ocean & Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

July 2009 - June 2013
North America
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The project will seek to see if tropical sea surface temperatures can be used to retroactively predict Medieval megadrought and to potentially predict future droughts. The project will combine coral records of SST with an atmospheric model simulation that takes into account devegetation and dust and aerosol loading. The project will also develop a fully coupled land surface-vegetation-dust model to include in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and run further simulations of the Medieval megadroughts and future climate scenarios.

OUTCOMES: The team was able to demonstrate that drying from dust is sufficient to generate megadroughts, but SST alone cannot explain the persistence of the megadroughts but was the catalyst. Eight publications.