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What is the Summer School of Speleothem Science?

 

July, 2012:

A group of 20 PhD students who work with speleothems have kept in touch over the past one and a half years with a shared idea: to hold a Summer-School on speleothem research aimed at other PhD students and/or undergraduates that are interested in this field of research. During the 4th DAPHNE-workshop in Heidelberg last February, we decided that it would be great to hold the Summer-School in Summer 2013. The Summer-School is aimed mainly at Masters and PhD students, but also at young researchers interested in the topic. It will cover several fields of speleothem science. Thanks to the efforts of some of us, the Summer-School will probably take place on 28 July - 3 August 2013 in Heidelberg, Germany.

 

Henderson (2006) states, "for paleoclimate, the past two decades have been the age of the ice core. The next two may be the age of the speleothem."

The "Summer School on Speleothem Science" is aimed at an international audience in order to meet the expressed needs of the young scientists in the speleothem research community and provide a comprehensive overview of the most current and innovative techniques. Attendants will be exposed to new methods currently being developed by high-profile senior researchers, and will expand their knowledge on traditional methods (such as speleothem δ18O or δ13C time-series).
Lectures held by experts in the field of speleothem research will be combined with discussions and seminars on a range of relevant speleothem related topics, providing a lively and comprehensive Summer School. Practical exercises and experiments will also be held. The Summer School will host poster sessions where the young scientists can present their work to discuss and troubleshoot the challenges of their own research.

Speleothems have proven to be valuable multi-proxy climate archives (McDermott et al., 2004; Fairchild and Tremble, 2009), which provide access to preserved past climate records from seasonal to millennia time scales (e.g. Baker et al., 2010; Drysdale et al., 2010). Significant past climate variations recorded in speleothems include shifts of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (Cai et al., 2012), variations of the North Atlantic Oscillation (Trouet et al., 2009), glacial-interglacial transitions and Heinrich- and/or Dansgaard-Oeschger events (Spötl and Mangini, 2002). Furthermore, due to the extremely high precision of Uranium-series dating, speleothems provide the opportunity to trace lead and lag of global events as well as to provide seasonal rainfall or temperature records (Henderson, 2006). Speleothems are well distributed worldwide and are not only archives for regional climate but also open the door for continental and inter-continental comparisons between speleothem proxy time-series (e.g. McDermott et al., 1999; McDermott et al., 2011) and with other palaeoclimate archives (e.g. Boch et al., 2009; Trouet et al., 2009). Furthermore, speleothem-based proxies can be compared to climate forcing (e.g. local solar insolation) which can assist in the to decryption of climate mechanisms (e.g Neff et al., 2001).

Due to their high potential as climate recorders, international research is now focusing on speleothems and new proxy methods are being developed to better reconstruct absolute palaeo-temperature and palaeo-rainfall records, which is of particular interest to climate modellers. Moreover, they are currently being used to gain insights into other variations of climate such as changes in rainfall sources, seasonality, or precipitation regimes (e.g. Bar-Matthews et al., 1999; Fairchild et al., 2001; Baldini et al., 2002; Ayalon et al., 2002; Johnson et al., 2006; Spötl et al., 2006; Orland et al 2009; 2012). Speleothem proxy-records can provide data of excellent quality to climate reconstructions and thereby increase the reliability of future climate models. Therefore, it is crucial that researchers improve the coverage of this terrestrial palaeoclimate archive, particularly at low latitudes.