Cutting Edge > Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection > Workshop 08 > Workshop Participants and Profiles > E. Christa Farmer
Author Profile
E. Christa Farmer Farmer
Geology Department
Hofstra University
145 Gittleson Hall
Hempstead, NY 11549

Hello Hurricane - Climate Change "Workshop" participants,
I am excited about this workshop because I see the connections between hurricanes and climate state as one of the areas where we don't really have great understanding of what's going on. As an undergraduate student majoring in one of the nation's first "Earth Systems" programs, I was most excited by the classes where my professors stood up and said "here's what we don't know, but here's how we're trying to learn it" rather than making me memorize what was already known. I started teaching in Hofstra University's Geology Department in 2004, and I have really enjoyed bringing my research into my classrooms and helping students learn how to probe the frontiers of climate science.

As a paleoclimatologist, most of my research has centered on using geochemistry of marine fossils to reconstruct ocean temperatures in the equatorial and South Atlantic since the peak of the last ice age. I have recently been trying to start some local paleotempestology research by trying to reproduce and hopefully eventually extend the research by Scileppi and Donnelly (2007). "Overwash deposits" in their sediment cores from bay marshes on Long Island's South shore suggest that hurricane patterns in the North Atlantic match those of the Gulf Coast more closely than had been suggested; their data do not seem to support the "see-saw" pattern proposed by Liu and Fearn (2000).

I teach Environmental Geology & Natural Hazards, and spend several weeks focusing on how hurricanes form and the influence of the climate state on their formation-- mostly ENSO. I help the students learn how to read scientific literature by having them read Emanuel (2005) and Landsea et al. (2006) in pairs, and then list vocabulary they don't know. We then together provide a glossary for the whole class to use. I would like to update this exercise with newer papers exploring the feedbacks between climate state and hurricane trends.

I also have a "jigsaw" exercise on poleward heat transport (modeled after the great plate tectonics exercise by Sawyer et al. (2005 JGE) that I use in my "Global Warming and the Science of Climate Change" course, which I hope to develop into a JGE manuscript at some point. I find that this is a fundamental piece of the climate system that students have a tough time really understanding.

This summer I helped organize the 2008 NCAR Junior Faculty Forum with James Done, our section was "Topic 2: Combining Models and Geological Data to Explore Past, Present, and Future Tropical Cyclone Activity" ( I look forward to incorporating what I learned there into this workshop and future curriculum on hurricanes and the climate system. Talk to you all soon!

Long Island paleotempestology

Activity: Poleward Heat Transport Jigsaw

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