PROGRAM TITLE:	Paleoclimate Research
ACTIVITY STREAMS:	Observations/Data Mgmt., Process, Modeling
SCIENCE ELEMENT:	Earth System History

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

DESCRIPTION:  This program supports interdisciplinary studies 1) to 
document and establish the rates, magnitude, and frequency of natural 
climate variability, 2) to understand the consequences of climate change on 
the environment, especially in sensitive areas such as polar regions, and 3) to 
improve General Circulation Models by providing integrated regional to 
global scale data sets and detailed climate records of past conditions for 
initializing and testing model experiments to "hindcast" past climates.  The 
program obtains records with resolution ranging from decadal to 
Milancovitch cycles over the late Cenozoic.  Major areas of focus include long 
terrestrial records of western North America, paleoclimate and 
paleoceanography of the Arctic, the last interglacial record in North America, 
and global scale environmental reconstruction of mid-Pliocene warm 
intervals.  The program activities result in high-quality continuous records of 
past change and integrated synoptic views of conditions during selected 
intervals when climates were warmer or colder.

The program addresses goals of the USGCRP to establish the record of natural 
climate variability, including the rates, magnitudes, and frequencies of 
climate change, the links between different components of the climate 
system, the sensitivity of the climate system to different forcings, and the 
consequences of climate change on the environment and ecosystems.  

Accomplishments include initiation of a long-term coring program for 
climate records in western North America and the Arctic, completion of a 
Northern Hemisphere environmental reconstruction for mid-Pliocene warm 
interval, completion of well dated 500,000-year paleohydrologic record from 
southern Nevada, and establishment in cooperation with NSF and Univ. of 
Colorado, a National Ice Core Laboratory in Denver, CO.  Selected Milestones 
include:

FY 1994:  Complete global reconstruction of mid-Pliocene warm interval and 
participate in first set of GCM simulations of this past global warming 

FY 1995:  Complete initial reconstruction of environmental conditions for the 
Arctic and subarctic regions of North America during the last interglacial

FY 1996:  Completion of coring transects to obtain high-quality terrestrial 
records of long-term climate variability in western US, Alaska and Arctic 
Ocean.

Data and reports are peer reviewed and results are published in USGS reports 
or scientific journals.  This program is reviewed annually by an external 
panel of specialists from universities and other government agencies and 
their recommendations are used to make program adjustments.  

STAKEHOLDERS:  USGS paleoclimate research effort has collaborative links 
with U.S. academic researchers and the international community including 
workers in the former Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Iceland, and the U.K.  
USGS research and data management activities have been incorporated into 
IGBP PAGES.  USGS is involved with paleoclimate and paleohydrology 
studies in several LTER's in the western US.  USGS has been a leader of 
PACLIM, an interdisciplinary group studying past and present climate 
patterns in the Pacific region and USGS cooperates with NOAA in 
paleoclimate data management, including the World Data Center A for 
Paleoclimate data at NGDC in Boulder.  The USGS cooperates with NASA 
GISS and academic modeling groups in paleoclimate hindcasting 
experiments.  This program contributes to process research to understand 
links between different elements of the climate system and mechanisms for 
past climate change.  The program contributes to modeling research by 
providing site specific and synoptic summaries of environmental conditions 
during past climates.

SHORT-TERM POLICY PAYOFFS:  Documentation and understanding of 
natural climate variability is needed to clearly identify any human related 
change and understand how the climate system works.  Paleoclimate data are 
needed to identify regions and ecosystems that are most sensitive to 
anticipated changes.  Quantitative and better integrated paleoclimate data for 
use in model simulations of past climates will lead to improved models and 
increased confidence in model predictions of future changes.  The program 
contributes to policy issues concerning climate change and natural variability, 
biodiversity, and desertification.

PROGRAM CONTACT:	Michael D. Carr
				Global Change Research Coordinator
				U.S. Geological Survey
				104 National Center
				Reston, VA  22092
				Phone (703) 648-4450
				Fax   (703)  648-5470