UMass Amherst Scientist Raymond Bradley Looks at the Climates of Past, Future

AMHERST, Mass. - Raymond Bradley, head of the department of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, recently received two major grants to study past and future global climates. He received $637,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and $450,000 from the federal Department of Energy.

The NSF grant is for research on sediments found at the bottoms of lakes. These sediments, which are layered annually, reveal clues about what the climate was like in past years, sometimes going back centuries, Bradley says. This research requires field work in the Arctic region of Canada, and involves graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from the University. Research began in late May, on a lake in central Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles from the North Pole, according to Bradley.

The Dept. of Energy grant is for work in predicting climates and involves assessing how well computer models of the climate system simulate the real world. These computer models make climate predictions decades, and in some instances, centuries in advance. The overall goal of the research is to help produce more reliable estimates of future climate. Bradley is conducting this research in collaboration with Michael Mann, who is an adjunct associate professor of geosciences, and Alexander Holleander Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow of the U.S. Department of Energy. Bradley and Mann are working in conjunction with Henry Diaz of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in Boulder, Colo.

In addition to these awards, Bradley has received continuing funding from the NSF and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, amounting to approximately $100,000, to support ongoing research on high elevation meteorological studies in the Andes of South America. In April, postdoctoral fellows Douglas Hardy and Mathias Vuille from the UMass Climate Laboratory climbed to the 20,000-foot summits of Mount Sajama and Mount Illimani in Bolivia, to collect snow samples and to upgrade the weather stations that were installed there last year.