I am a physical geographer and environmental scientist who investigates long-term changes in climate and forest growth. My research places recent changes in climate in a longer time frame, which is necessary to better predict future changes and inform resource management decisions under climate change. I use information preserved in the growth layers of trees to produce multi-century records of climate. My work utilizes the science of dendrochronology also to examine the effects of climate and humans on forest health.
My current dissertation research, which is under supervision of Dr. Scott. St. George
, investigates human and natural causes of long-term changes in forest growth and atmospheric processes in the central Himalayas over the past several centuries. Forests in Nepal provide goods and services crucial to the livelihood of nation’s more than 20 million rural people. Understanding how these forests respond to different climatic conditions is essential to better model their future growth under further climate change and to prepare people to adapt to those changes. My research has utilized field campaigns to examine how climatic change affected forest growth across Nepal over the past four centuries, showing that both short- (volcanoes) and long-term (recent temperature increases) changes in climate can affect the vigor of the forest growth there.
I am currently extending my analysis of human-forest-climate interactions over the Himalayas by focusing on the jet stream (band of fast flowing wind in upper troposphere), which is the primary water source for people and forests during the Himalayan dry seasons. I am evaluating the long-term behavior of the Himalayan jet stream to better understand how global warming is altering it. More widely, I have led field campaigns in Nepal to examine the effects of drought on water availability for forests and people. But my work extends beyond physical geography: I also have shown that human activities negatively affect eastern Nepal’s pine forests, diminishing their growth. My results highlight the need to evaluate current forest management practices to better conserve pine forests in eastern Nepal.
Besides research, I am also involved in teaching. Over the past five years, I have been working as a teaching assistant for several introductory courses on biogeography, environmental systems and meteorology at the University of Minnesota. In summer 2019, I was lead instructor for an introductory non-major biogeography class for Minnesota’s Department of Geography, Environment and Society. During a dendrochronology workshop in Summer 2016 in Kathmandu, I taught methods of tree-ring data analysis and led field training for a group of 20 graduate and undergraduate students from environmental science, meteorology and forestry programs.