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Release: Sept. 24, 2002

UI researcher receives $258,000 NSF grant to continue ancient climate studies

Luis Gonzalez, associate professor of geoscience in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and his research team have received a three-year, $258,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue studying ancient rainfall patterns.

"The grant is to continue our studies of the Cretaceous rain patterns, in particular, a time slice know as the Albian (about 100 million years ago), believed to be one of the warmest and wettest parts of the Cretaceous," says Gonzalez, project principal investigator. "Our earlier studies, funded by a prior NSF grant, have led us to find that in the region known as the Western Interior Basin, basically a sea that extended from Texas all the way to Alaska, the amount of rainfall in Iowa, Minnesota and portions of Canada was much greater than what we see today in tropical rain forests. The grant extends our studies south into the tropics."

Co-principal investigators on the project are Robert Brenner, associate professor, and Greg Ludvigson and Brian Witzke, adjunct associate professors, in the UI department of geoscience.

Gonzalez, who also directs the university's Paul H. Nelson Stable Isotope Laboratory, says one of the goals of the project is to use the knowledge gained by studying past greenhouse gas eras to develop more accurate and reliable forecasting of the impacts of future global greenhouse conditions. The project will use the isotope laboratory to analyze rock samples collected from sites in Texas, Mexico and Columbia. The team's findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.