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Glacial Geology

Map of MongoliaAaron Putnam, a research associate with the University of Maine Climate Change Institute, is conducting glacial geology research in Mongolia with doctoral student Peter Strand.

Fieldwork will include mapping and collecting samples of moraines and glacial geomorphologic features around Khoton Nuur. Khoton Lake is at the foot of the Altai Mountains near the border of China.

Strand and Putnam, who is also associated with Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, are blogging about their experiences during the monthlong research trek, which is being done in collaboration with Mongolia University of Science and Technology, at umglacialgeology.tumblr.com.

A DeLorme inReach Satellite Communicator is broadcasting the team’s location every two hours. People interested in following the researchers can visit share.delorme.com/PeterStrand; the password is “glacier” to view the researchers’ location, send a message and follow their progress.

“The last glacial termination represents the last great global warming and the last time CO2 rose by a substantial amount before the industrial period. And yet the role of CO2 in causing the last great global warming is not certain,” Putnam and Strand blogged June 18.

They say this research could advance understanding of “the sensitivity of atmospheric temperature to CO2,” as well as increase knowledge about the processes that catapult the Earth out of an ice age.

When Strand and Putnam, who this fall will be a faculty member in the UMaine School of Earth and Climate Sciences, return to UMaine, they’ll process the collected samples and create a chronology that documents the reduction of glacier volume since the peak of the last ice age.

The research team also includes David Putnam, professor at University of Maine Presque Isle; Caleb Ward, a student at University of Maine at Presque Isle; Sarah Kramer, a graduate student at Medill School of Journalism; and Pagamsuren Amarsaikhan and Tsetsenbileg Bavuu from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. Tanzhuo Liu, of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; and Hayley Walcott, a student at the University of Saint Andrews, will join the team in the field.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

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