Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Jody Wycech

Jody Wycech is working with Peter Molnar, Balaji Rajagopalan, and Kris Karnauskas to study the atmospheric teleconnections of El Niño during the Pliocene (5.3-2.6 Ma). The Pliocene is the most recent time interval in Earth history when global climate was warmer than the present, and as such is considered an analog to future climate conditions. Temperature reconstructions argue for a mean El Niño-like state during the Pliocene, but global precipitation anomalies produced by Pliocene El Niño are understudied. To this end, Wycech will reconstruct Pliocene rainfall in the southeastern United States and India, which respectively experience wetter conditions and a weaker summer monsoon during modern El Niño events. The Pliocene precipitation reconstruction will be completed using Ba/Ca ratios in the shells of marine protists (planktic foraminifera) recovered from sediments near river mouths to gauge freshwater runoff. These results will provide novel insights into El Niño conditions in our future warmer world.