The semiarid western United States faces increasing water demands, focusing interest on hydroclimate, the past, present and future trends in climate with respect to water. To better understand past, ongoing, and future hydroclimate, this project develops proxy-based records from geologic strata by assessing the chemical signatures that are contained within 10,000 years of lake sediments. The resulting records provide a better understanding of the full range of climate states that occurred during the Holocene, the most recent period in Earth’s history with similar global boundary conditions to the pre-industrial period (similar ice-sheet extent, sea-level, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations). The motivation is to provide a comparable long-term context of hydroclimatic variations and extremes to better evaluate those observed during the past ~50 to 100 years. To these ends, there is a present day component to the research where a proxy response to ongoing water and climate changes is evaluated. Lake waters are sampled and ongoing changes are documented for the recent past using remotely sensed data, including optical imagery (aerial and satellite), lidar, elevation measurements and Global Positioning System (GPS).
Lidar shows the fine scale (