Climate Change Research

Alaska Research | Ohio Research | Student Research | Outreach

Alaska Research

Alaska Research

Research in Alaska is primarily concerned with understanding contemporary climate change from a paleoperspective using tree ring and glacier climate proxy records.

Glacier Bay

Ongoing research in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is in collaboration with Dr. Dan Lawson of the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research Environmental Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, NH, and with the National Park Service. Student and faculty research here has been supported by the National Geographic Society, the National Park Service and by the Keck Geology Consortium. Our long-term efforts are to reconstruct the glacial and climate history for the region over the past 10,000 years.

Wrangell Mountain Glaciers (1998-99)

The purpose of this work was to reconstruct the late Holocene glacial history for the Wrangell Mountains, Alaska. The dating methods used included dendrochronology, lichenometry and radiocarbon analyses. Based on the records from nine glaciers we have been able to recognize four intervals of late Holocene glacier advance.

College Fjord

Two seasons were spent in College Fjord - the first in 1997 was a reconnaisance trip with Dr. Tom Lowell of the University of Cincinnati to investigate the regions potential to use tree-ring to reconstruct past glacier changes in the region and the 2005 trip was partially funded by a National Geographic grant to Joao Santos (then at Oklahoma State University), Lucio Cunha and A.M. Rochette Cordeiro do Centro de Estudos Geograficos de Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal. Wooster student, Peter Johnson used aspects of this work as his senior Independent Study. If you read Portuguese you can read about the 2005 expedition in the Potuguese edition of The National Geographic.

Columbia Glacier

The tree-ring record at Columbia Glacier is an ongoing project that included thesis work by Kurt Lapham, Aaron Shear, Clint Bailey, Kristina Brady, Megan Kennedy, Suzanne Lucas, Matthew Beckwith-Laube, Nick Young, Anne Krawiec and Anton Heitger.

Land Lobe Glacier

The Little Ice Age history of the Land Lobe Glacier was the subject of Anton Heitger.

Lake Clark National Park & Reserve

Nick Young and Will Driscoll traveled with Wiles to Lake Clark National Park and Preservein 2003. Nick (now a PhD candidate at the University of Buffalo) ended up working on a project dating the First Millennium AD advance of Columbia Glacier and Will Driscoll (now a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona). Will published a paper in GRL describing the results of his work on Divergence in tree-ring data. A copy of Will's GRL paper can be downloaded here.

Ohio Research

Ohio Research

Work in Ohio centers on understanding past, present and future climate change across Ohio. We core lakes and bogs and use tree-ring records to reconstruct past changes. Students use this work as part of their thesis projects and summer work.

Brown's Lake Bog

Browns Lake Bog is a Nature Conservancy site that is owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Under permit we have cored remanent old growth and cored the bog. One highlight of this work is a paper published in Quaternary Research by Brian Lutz ('05) describing the abrupt climate change 8200 years ago.

Wooster Memorial Park

Numerous class trips are taken to Wooster Memorial Park for labs and student research.

Ohio Tree Ring Research

This work involves coring living trees and dating historical building using tree-rings. Our dendroarchaeology work with historic buildings is usedto dtermine ages of historical buildings using tree rings and also as a way to extend our and existing ring-width chronologies in the region.

Odell Lake Coring Project

We cored Odell Lake in 2006 and encountered a peat a four meters depth and are in the process of determing the significance of this find.

Student Research

Student Research

Student Work in Environmental Geology
(selected studies 2001-2004)

  • Matthew Beckwith-Laube (2004)
    Diligenty worked on extending the tree-ring record from Columbia Bay. He presented the results of his work at two meetings - the national meeting of the Geological Society of America and the Arctic Workshop in Boulder Colorado.
  • Kristina Brady (2003)
    Examined the tree-ring evidence for a Medieval Warm Period at Columbia Bay, Alaska.
  • Megan Kennedy (2003)
    Worked on detailed reconstruction of ice margin positions over the last 1000 years at Columbia Bay, Alaska.
  • Suzanne Lucas (2003)
    Travelled to Alaska during the summer of 2002. She is working on tree-ring dating of Medieval Warm Period forests in the Kenai Fjords National Park.
  • Clint Bailey (2003)
    Traveled to Alaska during the summer of 2001 and is putting together a study of the land-terminating glacier in Columbia Bay. Clint has put together The Columbia Glacier web page.
  • Ryan McCallister (2000)
    Did Senior Independent Study work on the Tana Dunes in the Wrangell Mountains of Alaska. By looking at the trees overrun by the dune, he was hoping to piece together the mechanism(s) for dune reactivation.
  • Kirk Lapham (2001)
    Research entailed the development of a thousand-year chronology of glacial advance and retreat through tree rings of the Prince William Sound, Alaska.
  • Aaron Shear (2001)
    Also did some research on the Columbia Glacier. His work was focused on interpreting dendrochronological data to determine the environmental factors of advance and retreat of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska.
  • Abby Bowers (2003)
    Examined the relationship between science and society cocerning the spreading of oilfield brines in Wayne County, Northeast Ohio.
  • James Martin (2003)
    Participated in the Keck Glacial Ohio 2002 project and is working on a sediment core from Columbiana County, Ohio.
  • Cint Bailey (2003)
    Worked on the Keck Glacial Ohio 2002 Project and is working on a sediment core from Brown's Lake Bog, Wayne County, Ohio for his Independent Study.
  • Leigh Hutchison (2003)
    Completed a tutorial entitled The Biological Basis of Tree Rings. As part of the course Leigh sampled old growth oaks on The College of Wooster campus.
  • Scott Bagocious (2002)
    Worked with the Keck Glacial 2001 project and is investigating the record of environmental change as recorded in lakes and bogs in Ohio.
  • Russell Kohrs (2001)
    Did some work in Johnson Woods located in nearby Orrville, Ohio. His objective was to expand on research done in 1985 on old-growth oak trees. (There are also some excellent pictures on this page!)


Dr. Greg Wiles explains the growth trends of the old growth oaks on campus while the children are astounded (except for the boy in the lower left) by the growth expansion of 1866 when The College of Wooster was founded.


» Presentations, Brochures and Handouts (all in ppt - unless otherwise noted)

» GSA Houston - Tidewater Glaciers

» Power Point Presentation National Geographic Grant

» Wiles sea level talk

» CCI Southwest Ohio Dating Project PPT presentation

» Wooster Memorial Park Brochure (pdf) pdf

» Geology of Wooster Memorial Park & the Evolution of Rathburn Run (.ppt)

» Figures on Tree Ring Dating (1) and Glacier response to climate change (2) by Anne Krawiec ('06) (.ppt)

» "How Old?" handout/exercise (Abobe Illustrator) pdf

» Midwest DEM (Adobe Illustrator)

» Posters (all in ppt format)

Glacier Bay and Tlingit Legend - Houston 2008

Historical Dating in SW - Ohio 2008

Historical Dating GSA_2007

Historical Dating EAA_2006