Jason Briner, Professor of Geology
Jason Briner, professor of Geology, and his students comprise the Paleoclimate Lab in the Department of Geology. Their research on global climate change is funded by the National Science Foundation and focuses on the processes and timing of alpine glacier and ice sheet change, using a variety of approaches, including lacustrine sediment proxies and cosmogenic exposure dating. They study ice sheet processes and the history of glaciation to understand arctic climate change during the Pleistocene and the Holocene, use cosmogenic radionuclides to date glacial features and to understand basal ice sheet processes, and employ standard paleolimnologic techniques on both organic and proglacial sediments to understand paleoenvironmental change on many timescales (last century, Holocene, late Pleistocene, earlier interglacials).
Students play a major role in Briner’s research. Graduate students conduct their thesis work about how glaciers are responding to global climate change. Undergraduate students conduct research in his paleoclimate lab; some of them travel to remote corners of the Arctic on research trips. He also incorporates climate change research into his courses to reach a broader undergraduate audience. Briner teaches about climate change in Discovery Seminars, undergraduate introductory lectures, and in upper-division classes for undergraduate and graduate students.
Briner’s and his students’ research focus is on Arctic climate change, seeking to resolve unanswered questions about climate, glaciers and sea level rise. Their work lately is focused on Greenland. “We are working hard to make sense of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s response to global warming. It turns out that it isn’t totally straight-forward. The current pattern of ice sheet change is noisy, and we are working to better understand this noise. Equal parts discovering and head-scratching, I find it great fun and tremendously rewarding.