Science Café Cleveland presents


"Hurricanes, Climate Change, and Columbus: How Bahamian Lakes Archive Ancient Storm Events"


OCTOBER 12, 2009




Dr. Lisa Park

(Geology Dept., U. of Akron)


Mr. Andrew Michelson 

(Geology Dept., U. of Akron)





A lake changes its water temperature, chemistry, and biota seasonally and within cycles of warmer and cooler or wetter and drier climates. Organisms such as ostracodes, snails, and algal mats living in the lake can record these conditions and are preserved when they die and become embedded in the bottom sediments. In the tropical to subtropical climate of the Bahamas, water cycles are driven by the intensity and frequency of hurricanes. Hurricanes produce large quantities of precipitation, high wind speeds, and extreme storm surge heights in a single catastrophic event. These pulses are easily detected in the sedimentary record in a lake near the coast because of their high energy.


Preliminary studies of sediment cores recovered from lakes on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, show that the sedimentary record can be used to interpret both the frequency of hurricanes and paleoclimatic change. Initial results from heavy metal analyses of sediments from these cores also indicate that human activities within the watershed can be detected in the geochemistry of lake sediments.


The broader goal of this research is to decipher the past environment from lake deposit records in order to answer questions on how the climate has changed, how humans have modified the landscape, and how landscape changes may have triggered other physical changes that are recorded in the lacustrine environment. All of these data can be used to build a deeper understanding of the history and nature of climatic and anthropogenic environmental change through time.


Come join us for some surprising insights about all the information found at the bottom of old lakes!




Date: October 12, 2009
Time: Drinks start at 6:30 PM, discussion starts around 7:00 PM
Location: Tasting Room, Great Lakes Brewing Company (2701 Carroll Ave, Cleveland)


Click here to download a pdf flyer for your office!