TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “A Tale Of Ice And Fire: What Bugs And Mud Can Teach Us About The Past”

Saturday, January 18, 2020; 9:30 – 11:00am

Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology – Syracuse, NY

Please RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org

Speaker: Melissa L. Chipman, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: The Arctic is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth. Arctic biomes are underlain by permafrost soils, some of which contain large deposits of ice left over from ice sheets that retreated thousands of years ago. As temperatures continue to increase the Arctic, these large ice deposits thaw and form dramatic landslides and thaw slumps, which move massive amounts of sediment around the landscape. In addition, warming temperatures facilitate fires in areas that have not burned for thousands of years. Fires impact soil properties such as albedo, vegetation, and soil temperatures, which may lead to enhanced thaw of these ice deposits. Thus, Arctic change is really a story of ice and fire and how these aspects of the system interact. One of the best ways to anticipate how future warming will impact these processes is investigate how Arctic systems responded to temperature change in the past. Lakes record changes that happen on the surrounding landscape because fires produce charcoal that gets deposited in waterbodies, thaw slumps transfer old glacial sediment into lake basins, and insects that are sensitive to temperatures live in many Arctic lakes. We will explore ways to use these signals in lake-sediment cores to investigate the past and uncover how Arctic ecosystems have responded to changing climate over thousands of years. 

Biography: Dr. Chipman received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geosciences from Concord University in West Virginia. She received a M.S in Geology. and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She was also a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University and joined the faculty in Earth Sciences at Syracuse University in January 2019. Dr. Chipman has extensive experience investigating Arctic change and has participated in six remote field campaigns in boreal and tundra areas of Alaska and Greenland. She is a National Geographic Explorer and currently has a grant from the National Science Foundation to continue her research into fire and ice disturbance in the Arctic. She has also worked on projects funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and was one of the last EPA STAR fellows. Dr. Chipman was a first-generation college student and the first in her family to attend and graduate high school, and is committed to promoting opportunities for first-generation and unrepresented students in science. She mentored several undergraduate students through independent research projects, and is currently advising two graduate students in her new Arctic Paleoecology and Paleoclimate lab group at Syracuse University.

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique, a program for middle-school students founded in 2005, features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere and seeks to encourage students to consider careers in these areas. Students must be accompanied by an adult and can explore the MOST at no cost after the event.

Technology Alliance of Central New York

Founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse, the nonprofit Technology Alliance of Central New York’s mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation, and education of technology; and to collaborate with like-minded organizations across Central New York.

For more information about TACNY, visit www.tacny.org.

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