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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

Fire-inferred drought conditions from stratigraphic paleoecological data

Aaron Mleziva

Senior, Biology


By using sedimentary charcoal accumulation rates from a few lakes in South-central Wisconsin, we reconstructed fire regimes to determine potential drought periods over the past 2,300 years. Sediment data from lakes Round, Comstock, and George were used in this study. These lakes are located south of the ‘tension zone,’ a boundary that transects the Upper Great Lakes region north from south, with drier, cooler climate to the north, and warmer, wetter climate to the south. Correlation of increased charcoal accumulation rates between these lakes at 700 cal yr BP, 1,200 cal yr BP, and 1,700 cal yr BP indicate regional drought conditions. This project provides additional information about climatic conditions south of the tension zone and the timing of drought periods in the past.

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  1. Laura Ladwig

    Cool project! How much time does it take to sift through one sediment core?

    • Aaron Mleziva

      Thank you, Laura. It takes about 14 hours per meter of sediment.

      • Laura Ladwig

        I had no idea, but that’s fairly time intensive! Thanks for letting me know!


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