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Melissa L. Chipman

Now Assistant Professor at Syracuse University

Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S. Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.S. Environmental Geosciences, Concord University, Athens WV
B.A. Geography, Concord University, Athens WV


The broad goal of my research is to gain a deeper understanding of how Arctic ecosystems respond to climate change.  I use a paleoecological approach to examine interactions between climate and ecosystem processes over the Late Quaternary. My research relies on sedimentary archives from freshwater lakes, and I use a combination of macrofossil remains (e.g., diatoms, chironomids, biogenic silica, charcoal) and geochemical techniques (e.g., stable isotopes, XRF, XRD) to reconstruct past climates and ecological processes. For my PhD research, I studied the long-term variability of pulse disturbance events such as wildfires and thermo-erosion in Alaskan tundra, providing some of the first long-term records of these processes from the Arctic. For my postdoctoral research with Dr. Axford, I will use lake-sediment cores from high-elevation sites in southern Greenland to create quantitative temperature reconstructions and explore the centennial-scale drivers of late-Holocene climate change. These records will provide insight into natural climate variability in an area that has exhibited anomalous cooling over the past century.

Selected Publications

Chipman, M.L. and F.S. Hu (2017) Linkages among climate, fire, and thermoerosion in Alaskan tundra over the past three millennia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 122, doi:10.1002/2017JG00402

Vachula, R.S., M.L. Chipman, and F.S.  Hu (2017) Holocene climatic changes in the Alaskan Arctic as inferred from carbonate oxygen isotopes at Wahoo Lake. Holocene  doi:10.1177/09596836177022 30. 

Chipman, M.L., G.W. Kling, C.C. Lundstrom, and F.S. Hu (2016) Multiple thermo-erosional episodes during the past six millennia: Implications for the response of Arctic permafrost to climate change. Geology  44:439-442. 

Chipman, M.L., V. Hudspith, P.E. Higuera, P.A. Duffy, R. Kelly, W.W. Oswald and F.S. Hu (2015) Spatiotemporal patterns of tundra fires:  Late-Quaternary charcoal records from Alaska. Biogeosciences 12: 4017-4027. 

Hu, F.S., P.E. Higuera, P.D. Duffy, M.L. Chipman, A. Young, A. Rocha, R.K. Kelly and M. Dietze (2015) Tundra fires in the Arctic: Natural variability and responses to climate change. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13: 369-377.

Kelly, R., M.L Chipman, P.E Higuera, V. Stephanova, L. Brubaker, and F.S.  Hu (2013) Recent burning of boreal forests exceeds fire regime limits of the past 10,000 years. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110: 13055-13060.

Chipman, M.L., B.F. Clegg, and F.S. Hu (2012) Variation in the moisture regime of northeastern interior Alaska and possible linkages to the Aleutian Low: inferences from a late-Holocene δ18O record. Journal of Paleolimnology 48: 69-81. 

Higuera, P.E., M.L. Chipman, J.L. Barnes, M.A. Urban, and F.S. Hu (2011) Variability of tundra fire regimes in Arctic Alaska:  millennial-scale patterns and ecological implications. Ecological Applications 21: 3211-3226.

Higuera, P.E., J.L. Barnes, M.L. Chipman, M.A. Urban, and F.S. Hu (2011) The Burning Tundra: A Look Back at the Last 6,000 Years of Fire in the Noatak National Preserve, Northwestern Alaska. Alaska Park Science 10: 36-41.

Hu, F.S., P.E. Higuera, J.E. Walsh, W.I. Chapman, P.A. Duffy, L.B. Brubaker, and M.L. Chipman (2010) Tundra burning in Alaska:  Linkages to climatic change and sea ice retreat.  Journal of Geophysical Research 115: G04002, doi:10.1029/2009JG001270, 2010.

Clegg, B.F., G.H. Clarke, M.L. Chipman, M. Chou, I.R. Walker, W. Tinner, and F.S. Hu (2010) Six millennia of summer temperature variation based in midge analysis of lake sediments from Alaska.  Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 3308-3316.

Kaufman, D.S. et al. including M.L. Chipman (2009) Recent warming reverses long-term Arctic cooling. Science 325: 236-1239.

Chipman, M.L., G.H. Clarke, B.F. Clegg, I. Gregory-Eaves, and F.S. Hu (2009) A 2000 year record of climatic change at Ongoke Lake, southwest Alaska.  Journal of Paleolimnology 41: 57-75.

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