This proposal requests funds from the NSF to support at least 15 U.S.-based early career scientists (graduate students, postdocs, and new faculty/researchers) to participate in a workshop in Corpus Christi, TX. This workshop is titled "Learning from Other Communities," and will be focused on the development of robust chronologies based on what can learned about the tools and methodologies used by scientists who work with other annually resolved climate archives (but not varved sediments). The workshop will feature keynote addresses by a dendroclimatologist, an ice core scientist, and coral- and speleothem-based paleoscience experts who work at annual resolution. The group will then discuss how the presented 'best-practice' techniques in these fields can be applied or adapted to varved sediments, and what quality criteria should be taken into account with this different medium. The focus of this workshop on producing robust chronologies will be of great benefit to a broad cross-section of varve workers and projects. By removing as much time uncertainty as possible from varved records, this will eventually translate into the greater usage and recognition of varved sediment records as annual archives of past global change.

The workshop will provide an excellent opportunity for training and knowledge transfer from experienced varve scientists to a large group of early career researcher working in the same field. This will be facilitated by the workshop format, which explicitly promotes discussion and idea exchange. A significant effort will be made to involve members of underrepresented groups such as minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. This workshop will also serve as a stepping stone toward the VWG?s ultimate goal of moving varve records one step closer to gold-standard paleoclimate records like tree rings. This will eventually improve paleoclimate reconstructions by offering up another series of robust, well-controlled paleoclimate records that may be considered. This workshop will provide a tremendous amount of material that will eventually be incorporated into the varves "Handbook" produced by the VWG. This "Handbook" of best practices for researchers will be a significant effort that disseminates scientific knowledge to the larger community for the benefit of all. Finally, this workshop will provide an important opportunity for the local organizer/chair, an early career researcher at Texas A&M University?Corpus Christi. Specifically, it will establish and/or strengthen educational alliances and opportunities by putting the university "on the map" as a possible destination for graduate degrees in paleoscience, especially high resolution studies. Currently, the university is not known for this, but one of the primary goals of the local organizer/chair is to start up a paleoscience program there.

Project Report

This grant provided travel and lodging funding for ten U.S.-based, early career scientists (graduate students, postdocs, and new faculty/researchers) to participate in the Second Workshop of the PAGES Varves Working Group. This workshop was held on the campus of Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi from 17-19 March 2011. The workshop was attended by 31 scientists overall from institutions in ten different countries around the world. Information about the PAGES Varves Working Group can be found online on its website at "". Briefly, this working group is a collaboration of scientists working with varved sedimentary records. "Varved" means that the sediments accumulate in discrete annual layers, much like a tree grows a new tree ring each year. This fact allows the sediment layers to be counted back in time, just like can be done with tree rings. The result is that a scientist can establish a very precise, year-by-year chronology back in time hundreds and thousands of years before the present. The physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of these layers can also be studied in great detail. Altogether, this means that varved sedimentary records can be used to understand past climate and environmental change at high resolution, and with very precise chronologic control. This puts varved records in the same category as other high-resolution archives like ice cores, tree rings, speleothems, and corals, all of which also grow or accumulate in distinct annual increments. The PAGES Varves Working Group has organized three workshops, one each year starting in 2010, with several more planned for the future. The goal of each workshop is to improve some aspect of the science, and importantly to involve, support, and guide the next generation of varve workers (i.e. the early career scientists who are starting in the field). One of the main goals of this Second Workshop was to learn how to develop even more robust chronologies for varved sedimentary records based on what could be learned from scientists working with other high-resolution archives. To this end, scientists from the ice core, tree ring, speleothem, and coral communities were invited to the workshop to provide keynote addresses about the tools, methodologies, and quality control criteria that are used in their respective fields. "Best practice" techniques that could be applied and adapted to varved sediment records were identified. Plenary discussion sessions in the workshop were focused on working out details about several products that the PAGES Varves Working Group is producing, and that will be made available to other scientists and the public via its website. In particular, one important product will be a database of known varved records, and a second database of papers that are related to these records. Time was also dedicated to developing a list of recommendations for the publication of varved records, as well as working out details about a "Varve Worker’s Manual" that is being developed by the group, and that will also be made available on its website. Presentations by the workshop participants were interspersed between the keynote addresses and the plenary discussions. "Program and Abstracts" volumes from all three workshops are freely available online in electronic format on the PAGES Varves Working Group website. The NSF funding provided for this workshop was used to fund the participation of 10 U.S.-based early career scientists including three graduate students, five postdocs, and two new faculty/researchers. Overall, this Second Workshop served as an important tool to help improve, disseminate, and promote excellent analytical and methodological practices within the varve worker community. Increasing the quality of this science is not just good for the benefit of the varve working community. Indeed, it will provide better information for climate scientists, civic planners, legislators, and individual citizens to make informed decisions about regional to global climate and environmental change.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Paul E Filmer
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Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi
United States
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