Current Projects

Reconstructing Human Induced Environmental Change in Mexico

My primary research project is in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I have been working for the past decade in collaboration with Arthur Joyce (Dept. of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder). The long-term goal of the project is to examine the intertwined cultural and environmental history of the Rio Verde Valley, which is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. This research is currently funded through an NSF award through Geography and Spatial Science (BCS-0923916). To date our research has reconstructed the climatic and geomorphic history of the region (Goman et al., 2005, 2010; 2013; Mueller et al., 2013). Significantly, our work also shows that the stratigraphic record is sensitive to changes in the geography of landuse resulting from political changes over the past 3000 years (Joyce and Goman, 2012). I am currently working on several sedimentary records collected from lacustrine sites throughout the valley. Several SSU undergraduate students are involved in this research project.

Reconstructing Sea Level and Delta Discharge in the San Francisco Bay, California

Estuarine and wetland sediments hold a marvelous archive of river flow into the San Francisco Bay system and thus are sensitive to changes in climate. Prior analyses were at multi-centennial scale resolution which is very coarse (e.g Goman and Wells, 2001 and Goman et al., 2008). In this new and evolving collaboration with Lynn Ingram (U.C. Berkeley) our goal is to develop a long-term decadal resolution record of freshwater discharge over the past 6000 years for the Bay. Our research will provide critical information regarding long-term water security for the region. Undergraduate students from SSU are involved in this project.

Reconstructing Climate Change in East Africa

I have been involved in a long-term project to document and understand the climate archive stored in wetland sediments in the African Rift Valley. Wetlands in semi-arid regions are rare and thus typically overlooked. I am the project paleoecologist in this international effort directed by Gail Ashley (Rutgers University). Our findings are shedding light on climate change over the past 1000 years.

Modeling the impacts of dust on the global climate system

I am CoPI with Natalie Mahowald (Cornell University) on a project funded through a highly competitive NSF program (P2C2). Dust has traditionally been ignored in climate modeling studies. However, dust has an important impact on the amount of solar radiation absorbed at the earth surface. In this project my role is to assess previously published reconstructions of dust records obtained from lake records. This data will then be incorporated into a large climate modeling effort to reconstruct conditions at the time of the African Humid Period (~12000-6000 years ago).