My students and I study climate and environmental change, primarily through the lens of paleolimnology (the study of lake sediments and past lake environments). Our field and laboratory work focuses on understanding the impacts of climate change in Arctic and alpine environments. The geologic record provides unique opportunities to observe how natural systems respond to changing climate. I am especially interested in documenting the past responses -- and thereby estimating the future sensitivity -- of mountain glaciers, continent-sized ice sheets, and cold-adapted ecosystems to climate change. Much of the research in my lab has focused on the Holocene (the past 11,000 years of Earth's history), but we study timescales ranging from the Pliocene to the present.
Northwestern's Quaternary Sediment Lab hosts microscopy facilities and cold storage for sediment cores, and is equipped for geochemical, physical and paleoecological analyses of lake cores and other sediments. Joining the QSL in 2017: A new core analysis lab with Geotek MSCL core logger and more!
Undergraduate Melissa Gardner prepares charcoal samples from the Peruvian Andes
My COURSES at Northwestern address Earth's climate system and climate history, methods in Quaternary geology, Earth surface processes, and the physical science of human impacts on the environment. For a taste of topics, read TWEETS from students in my Energy & Climate Change class.
* 2016: Our first field season in South Greenland was a big success. Thanks to the field team! *
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email: axford at northwestern dot edu