|November 18, 2002|
Alumnus and Professor Donald Rodbell publish in Nature
Prof. Don Rodbell, left, and Chris Moy '98 on field trip in Andes Mountains
Donald T. Rodbell, a Union College geology professor is co-author of a study, published this week in Nature, that found that El Nino, the tropical phenomenon that can affect weather across the entire Western hemisphere, occurs on a roughly 2,000-year cycle.
Chris Moy, a 1998 Union graduate who was a student of Rodbell's, was the paper's lead author. Other co-authors were Geoffrey Seltzer of Syracuse University and David Anderson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both of whom have been long-time collaborators with Rodbell on a series of studies on global climate change. They have done extensive field work in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Ecuador, funded with grants from the National Science Foundation.
The paper was based on Moy's graduate work at Syracuse with Seltzer. Moy is pursuing his Ph.D. in geology at Stanford University.
In a 1999 study published in Science, Rodbell and Seltzer reported on their discovery of the first continuous record of El Nino events dating back more than 5,000 years. The scientists used sediment samples from Lake Pallcacocha in southern Ecuador as part of a larger 1993 study of global climate change. The lighter-colored bands of sediment indicated debris that would flow into the lake during the high precipitation periods characteristic of El Nino.
The recent Nature article confirms the findings of the earlier study, that El Nino patterns began about 10,000 years ago and increased in frequency starting 7,000 years ago. The new study found high-frequency clusters of El Nino occurring on a 2,000-year cycle.
Publication in Nature, widely considered one of the premier international science journals, is a prized event for a scientist. It is highly unusual for someone to publish their master's thesis in the journal, as Moy has done, Rodbell notes.