Bill Patterson

  Schedule 2012
April 11th-April 15th Wilmington North Carolina for a PhD defense
May 14th to May 28th

Moscow and Tomsk Russia, then on to Istanbul for a few days to examine culture and climate research opportunities.

June 10th to June 20thMotorcycle to Quebec to collect water samples.
June 20th to July 25th

Get my kicks on Route 66- Chicago to Los Angeles, then Rocky Mountain River Rage to collect water samples for moisture cycle study by enduro motorcycle.

July 20th to July 26th Yukon Territories and Alaska to collect water samples and photograph Grizzly Bears and Bald Eagles.
September 20th to October 6th Ireland on a Dobbins Irish-Canadian Fellowship to study geology, meteorology, culture, and history.
November 12th to November 14th Ice road trucking up to Points North Landing to collect river samples, all lakes frozen.
December 24th to December 29th Christmas in Youngstown Ohio
  Schedule 2011- Sabbatical Leave until Sept. 2011 Research Map
January 14th to January 20th

Las Vegas Nevada for discussion of research projects and lecture at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Side trips to Death Valley and the White Mountains. Pics

January 22nd to February 5th Antigua and Barbuda, Eastern Caribbean to conduct underwater archaeological survey and collect climate proxy materials. Pics
April 5th to April 21st

Western Ireland to collect water samples for moisture cycling study. Pics 1, Pics 2

May 10th to May 15th Northern Saskatchewan to collect water samples for moisture cycling study. Pics 1
June 21st to August 2nd

Coast to coast collecting water samples for moisture cycle study by enduro motorcycle. Pics 1, Pics 2, Pics 3

Aug 5th to Aug 9th Cluff Lake northern Saskatchewan water sampling
October 26th to October 30th

National Science Foundation Roundtable Discussion on Sustainability Research Funding

Nov 18th to Nov 20th Chacmool Archaeology Conference in Calgary Alberta to give invited lecture. Motorcycle to Montreal
  Schedule 2010
May 7th to May 23rd

Western water wrangling (SK, AB, BC, WA, OR, CA, NV, UT, CO, SD, WY, MT). Collecting water samples for moisture cycle study by enduro motorcycle. Pics 1, Pics 2

June 9th and 10th Sturgeon Lake Saskatchewan to extract a marl by vibracore.
June 21th to June 28rd

British Columbia to collect water samples for ongoing moisture cycle study.

July 7th to July 16th Alaska Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay to collect water samples for climate study. Pics 1, Pics 2
July 29th to August 9th

Brazil to collect water samples with Matt Lachniet. Pics 1, Pics 2, Pics 3

August 12th to September 1st Svalbard (Russian: Шпицберген), Bjørnøya (Bear Island) and coastal Norway aboard the National Geographic Explorer. Polar Bear pics, Pics 2, A and Grip Pics, Tysfjord, Leiknes & Trollfjord Pics, Pics 5, Pics 6, Pics 7
  Schedule 2009
February 12th to February 22nd

Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Tabasco Mexico to collect water samples and survey marl lakes. Pics

May 3rd to May 13th Cymru and Kernow to collect water samples and survey marl lakes, then London England. Pics 1, Pics 2, Pics 3
May 13th to May 29th Новосибирский (Novosibirsk), Siberia, Russia for Север к югу диалог между культур и цивилизациями meeting. Then south to Чемале и Бийск for culture and fieldwork, and northwest to Moscow. Pics 1, Pics 2, Pics 3
June 20th to June 26th Davos Switzerland for the V.M. Goldschmidt geochemistry conference. Pics
June 30th to July 29th Saskatoon to Newfoundland and Labrador to collect water samples by enduro motorcycle. Pics 1, Pics 2
August 3rd to August 10th Yukon Territory to core Spirit Lake and Emerald Lake. Pics
September 2nd to September 9th Alberta and British Columbia to sample water by enduro motorcycle. Pics
September 10th to September 30th Germany, Italy, Slovenia, France, Monaco, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Transylvania to collect water samples and survey marl lakes and caves.
October 1st to October 14th Saskatoon
October 14th to October 19th NSF workshop in Maine
October 26th to November 2nd Ruávinjargâ, Lapland, Republic of Finland for the MOVE and BOREAS meetings. Pics
December 15th- December 17th Santiago Chile, and Ushuaia Argentina. Tierra del Fuego
December 17th to December 30th Antarctic Islands and Antarctica aboard the National Geographic Explorer (more pics 1, 2). Then on to Barbuda and Antigua for archaeological research until January 10th.
  Schedule 2008
January enjoy the cool winter air of Saskatchewan and sample water/snow in the Canadian Rockies
February 14th to February 25th Belize to collect water samples and survey marl lakes.
March 4th to 10th European Science Foundation Boreas meeting, Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschun, Halle (Saale), Germany
March 10th to 16th Prague, Czech Republic for Medieval climate and architecture study
April 9th to April 13th Swiss Federal Research Institute, Birmensdorf Switzerland
April 13th to April 20th Vienna Austria for the Europen Geology Union meeting
April 23th to April 30th Boise Idaho for Snake River Plain fossil fish research.
April 30th to May 8th Spain, Portugal and Morocco for hydrology and marl lake research
May 12th to May 18th Calgary and the Canadian Rockies to outfit a new research vehicle and collect water samples
May 18th to May 23rd various trips to Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for water and marl sampling
May 24th to May 29th Quebec City, Quebec for GAC-MAC and the 400th anniversary of the city
June 10th to June 13th Saskatoon to Stoney Rapids SK for water sampling (2,400km)
June 17th to July 26 Marl madness motorcycle marathon through MN, WI, MI, OH, PA, NY, ON, MB, SK, AB, NWT, YK, AK, BC, WA, ID, MT, WY, SD, and ND (24,000km). Pics 1, Pics 2, Pics 3
August 20th to August 28th Nuuk Greenland for the Sixth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VI). Pics
September 11th to September 20th

Narsarsuaq, Qassiarsuk, Igaliku, and Qaqortoq, Greenland for the 600th wedding aniversary of Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Bjørnsdatter in Hvalsey Church, near Qaqortoq in South Greenland. Pics

October 18th to October 26th Kailua-Kona Hawai'i for the AGU Chapman conference on atmosperic vapor transport
November 7th to November 11th Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Montana to collect water samples

December 14th to December 20th

San Francisco, CA for the American Geophysical Union annual meeting. Click Here to download the water poster.
Schedule 2007

Click Here for Photos

Schedule 2006

Click Here for Photos

billPortraitBill's research focus is the application of light stable isotope geochemistry towards questions of paleoclimate, modern and paleo hydrology/meteorology, life history studies of a wide variety of animals and plants, and sediment diagenesis. One of the benefits of this research is that by gaining a better understanding of modern and ancient climate as recorded by chemical proxies, we can better estimate future scenarios of the anthropogenic influence on atmospheric chemistry. Much of Bill's work is used to evaluate the rise and fall of ancient economies and cultures. Currently Bill is collaborating on more than 70 research projects in 80 countries, covering all seven continents. His work was featured recently in a Youngstown Vindicator article pg1, pg2

Bill has conducted extensive research on the carbonate sediment, pore water, and overlying seawater chemistry, of the Florida Keys and the Bahama Banks. Because much of what we know about ancient climate is derived from isotopic and elemental analysis of carbonate minerals, it is vital that we understand the details with which carbonate constituents record and preserve environmental conditions. The vast majority of climate data for the Phanerozoic prior to the evolution of planktonic carbonate organisms is derived from platform carbonate isotope values. Bill's research demonstrated that modern platform carbonates are recording regional rather than global conditions. This finding has serious implications for the record of climate and carbon dioxide over geologic time.One of the more unique areas of Bill's research is the application of stable isotope chemistry to the climate and life-history record stored in fish otoliths. Otoliths are accretionary aragonite structures precipitated within the inner ear of most fishes. They serve a function similar to a "black box flight data recorder", by storing the daily details of life. Discrete sampling of this material on a micron scale allows for reconstruction of temperature and other life history parameters during the life of the organism. Warm water eurythermic species precipitate carbonate over a range of temperatures allowing for the calculation of seasonal temperature variation (both summer maximum and winter minimum temperatures) for mid-continental locations. In one study, this approach was used to determine seasonality in eastern North America during the "Little Ice Age". Similar projects involve Mio-Pliocene fish-bone and otoliths of Lake Idaho on the Snake River Plain, fish-bone from Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, modern and ancient otoliths from the Laurentian Great Lakes and Lake Baikal in Siberia. In another study, otoliths from modern fish in the Laurentian Great Lakes were analyzed to provide life history information which has yielded new insight into behavior of various species of a single genus. Importantly, several of the species studied though recently extinct have yielded details of their lives unobtainable by any other means.

In an early Cenozoic climate study published in the journal NATURE, otoliths of Paleocene-Oligocene conger and cusk eels were used to derive seasonal temperature variation in ancient Gulf Coastal waters. Temperature data indicate that decreasing winter temperatures led to the extinction of 90% of the benthic fauna 34 million years ago. Nature News and Views article on this research. Other coverage includes Scientific American and Science Daily.

billTibet BillJason
Bill was on a trip to Asia (June 2006) where he presented a paper on the use of robotics in recovering climate information from tree rings to the 7th International Conference on Dendrochronology. Traveling with Bill was undergraduate Jason Brasseur whom also presented a paper on his research findings. Above Left - Bill at the 5018m pass on the main road through tibet. Above Right- Bill and Jason at the Great Wall near Beijing.

Otolith research continues with the study of otoliths from Bronze-Age Minoan archaeological sites adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Through this study we hope to gain a better understanding of the influence of climate upon this important, ancient culture. Closer to home a study on a large collection of otoliths from a North American midden at the Eastman Rockshelter in Tennessee spanning 5,000 years has given us tremendous insight into secular variation in seasonality and precipitation for eastern North America. The record recovered is so detailed that we can observe hurricanes thousands of years ago. Jurassic otoliths (Bathonian) are the focus of an ongoing study of paleoclimate and paleoceanography of the Mesozoic seaway off the western coast of Scotland.

We have completed micromilling Medieval Plaice otoliths from a Belgian site in collaboration with Wim van Neer and Daphne Stalpaert of the Royal Museum of Central Africa. Several graduate students are currently involved in a project which examines the applicability of freshwater mollusks towards questions of paleoclimate. Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Elise Dufour is continuing work on the Medieval plaice and haddock otoliths from Belgium. Additionally, Elise has analyzed a suite of 12,000 year old tilapia otoliths recovered from Egypt that demonstrate consistent season of capture. Research in South America continues with Dr. Jay Nelson and Hiro Nonogaki on the ecology of wood eating catfish. Work on modern salmonids continues to make the news in eastern North America.

Other recent research has involved a sedimentological and chemical study of carbonate-rich laminated sediment of the Finger Lakes of central New York state by a group of scientists (Henry T. Mullins, Martin Hilfinger, Matt Kirby and Chris Lajewski) in the Department of Earth Sciences. Finger Lake carbonate sediment preserves a detailed record of mid-continental climate variation for much of the Holocene. Some of this research was recently picked by the journal Science as the "Editor's Choice for science of the week". Bill and Hank have recently begun a collaborative effort with graduate student Melany McFadden on the natural history of Lake Ontario primary productivity based on the isotope values of sediment recovered from the Rochester Basin. Bill continues to collaborate with former student and good friend Dr. Matthew Kirby on the record of climate stored in the lakes of southern California.

Bill and a group of students have recently completed a sampling trip to Ireland and Scotland which recovered marl lake cores dating back to the late glacial period as well as modern nearshore marine water samples and fauna. We are currently producing high-resolution records of climate change in Europe to compare to those obtained in North America. Funded by the Keck consortium and the National Science Foundation, we returned to Ireland in the summer of 2002 with Dr. Anna Martini of Amherst College and Neil Tibert of Mary Washington College to collect and analyze additional cores.

CoringCnoc mhuire marl Ireland June 2000. A well-oiled coring machine (John Corr, Bill Patterson, Bob Deegan, and Scott Tucker) on another great day for coring.

Bill is collaborating with Drs. Don Stewart of SUNY-ESF and Don Taphorn of the University of Guanare in Venezuela on the ecology and life history of the giant catfish of the Amazon basin.

Ongoing modern climate and hydrology research in the tropics includes the most extensive survey of Central American groundwater isotope values in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama by Bill and Matt Lachniet.

bat guanoMatt Lachniet and Bill coring bat guano in Panama, 2002. Bill is working on climate reconstruction using isotope values of speleothems in the Dominican Republic with Dr. Lisa Greer, in Belize with Eric White and Dr. Will Clyde, and in Costa Rica with Matt Lachniet. Additionally, Bill and Matt Lachniet have conducted the most extensive survey of Central American groundwater isotope values in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. A study of Costa Rican speleothems by Matt and Bill was featured on the cover of Geology in November 2004, and in a special article in the magazine GSA Today in January 2005. Other studies include an investigation into the hydrology of Ethiopian spring water sources of drinking water and recommendations for maintaining safe drinking water for the people and livestock of Southern Ethiopia. Matt is now an assistant professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

At the higher latitudes Bill and several students are initiating a study of modern climatology in Ireland. Graduate student Aaron Diefendorf is currently wrapping up a high-resolution stable isotope analyses on these cores along with Keck Consortium students in order to derive a record of Holocene climate with decadal resolution. Bill is heading back to Ireland in 2003 with a group of students (Kelly Evans, Kim Halpin, Dario Piotto, Cole Webster) from the University of Saskatchewan.

Aaron has completed a comprehensive study of Lough Inis Ui Chuinn that includes very high resolution stable isotope analyses of carbonate, bulk sediment organic matter and cellulose. Combined, these data provide powerful tools for understanding the rapid climate changes in Ireland from 16Ka to 4Ka. Additionally, these data will be tied to our work in the eastern US and Iceland to provide the best record of North Atlantic atmospheric circulation to date. Aaron successfully defended his M.Sc. on April 11, 2005 and is now starting his Ph.D. at Penn State University.

Loch Inis Bob Deegan, Bill Patterson, and Aaron Diefendorf coring Loch Inis Ui Chuinn, Contae Clare Ireland. July 2003

In northern Canada graduate student Adam Csank is working with Bill and Jim Basinger to generate the highest resolution record of Pliocene tree ring isotope values to date. Adams record will provide the first subannual glimspe at precipitation and temperature for the high Arctic at 4.5 million years ago. Click here for a recent Weather Network interview about climate change.

In Iceland Bill is collaborating with MSc student Kristin Dietrich, along with Chris Holmden and John Andrews, on an NSF-funded project to reconstruct a high-resolution record of climate change from 2,400 ypb through the Viking Settlement in the 9th century to the 18th century. Temperature information derived from the molluscs correlates with population and social dynamics in Iceland and Greenland. The article is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and is featured in Nature News, Science News, and Scientific American.

IcelandSatellite view of Iceland

Life history and climate studies are being carried out in Alaska. In the summer of 2003, hydrology projects will be initiated in the Canadian Yukon with NOAA scientists. Stop back soon for more information. Click here for videos - Gullfoss, Geysir, Isafijordur, Godfoss, Myvatn mud volcano, another mud volcano, lagoon with puffins, 1996 Jokulhlaup outwash plain.

Ph.D. student Chris Wurster has generated a Late Pleistocene-Mid Holocene record of precipitation for southern Arizona using the isotope values of bat guano recovered from a cave in the Grand Canyon.

Chris Wurster and Matt Lachniet after a night of bat guano coring in Mexico.Bat guano

Lepto colony and Bill during a night of bat guano coring in Mexico.Bill

BatsLepto colony. Featured attractions of this cave include flesh eating beetles, 2000ppm ammonia, aerosol rabies, +30°C temperatures and low oxygen levels.
WaitingChris Wurster sitting, and Bill waiting for a train in central Norway. Dr. Christopher Wurster successfully defended his Ph.D. on June 21, 2005. His thesis was entitled "Advances in the reconstruction of temperature history, physiology and paleoenvironmental change: evidence from light stable isotope chemistry ".
MeatCoveMeat Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, 2001

In central New York State Bill initiated a study of precipitation in late 1998 with Adam Burnett of Colgate University and Hank Mullins of Syracuse University in which all significant precipitation events were collected and analyzed for stable isotope values. These values are compared to meteorological data to determine the source of the moisture and it's ultimate significance to the geologic record of climate change. The first of these papers in which a 300% increase in 20th century snowfall was documented for the Great Lakes region was published in December 2003. Listen to an EarthWatch radio program about this research.

The state-of-the-art isotope facilities at the University of Saskatchewan provides for computerized micromilling and δ13C and δ18O analyses of carbonate, δD and δ18O of water, δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon, δD, δ13C and δ18O of tree ring cellulose, δ18O of phosphate, δ13C and δ15N of organic matter, as well as a full suite of radiogenic isotope analytical capabilities.

Undergraduate research continues during the winter semester 2004 with a University of Saskatchewan International Field Study course on the Yucatán Peninsula. Research opportunities are available for qualified students. If you are interested in graduate studies of paleoclimate, life history, limnology, diagenesis, or have any bright ideas involving light stable isotope geochemistry, please contact Bill for more information.

broch in ScotlandInside a 9th century broch in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Bill is working with archaeologists to develop a long-term record of climate for comparison to the history of the Picts and Celts in the western Isles. In 2006, the group will return to the Hebrides and the Orkney Islands to core lakes and bogs in order to reconstruct the Holocene climate of Scotland in unprecedented detail. Left to right Bill, Bob Deegan, archaeologist Sue, and Syracuse undergrad Suzanna Ceraldi.

Major shift in Adélie Penguin eggshell isotope values in Antarctica: evidence for diet change ~300 years ago. Ornithologist Dr. Steven D. Emslie is working with Bill on a project in Antarctica that tracks changes in Penguin behavior over the last 38,000 years. Abandoned Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colonies have been identified in numerous coastal, ice-free regions and islands in Antarctica and often contain a well-preserved record of organic remains including penguin bones, feathers, tissue, and eggshell.  This record has been used to infer episodes of climate change that has affected the distribution and abundance of penguins in Antarctica for millennia.  Dietary remains recovered from the ornithogenic (bird-formed) soil at these sites include otoliths and squid beaks, but no remains of krill (Euphausia spp.) are preserved.  Thus, the primary diet of this species in the past has been difficult to infer without additional evidence. Stable isotope analyses now allow assessment of seabird diet using eggshell, bone or keratin.  However, isotope analyses of fossil remains is often compromised from lack of preservation.  We used ancient and modern Adélie Penguin eggshell collected from three major regions in Antarctica to examine variation in nitrogen and carbon isotopes over the past 38,000 years.  Our results indicate a major shift in eggshell isotopic values, with a significant loss of enrichment in carbon and nitrogen, occurred near the end of the Holocene, or within the last 300 years, but before 1915.  We hypothesize that depletion of whales and seals during the whaling era, beginning in the 1820s, caused a ecological response in penguins and shift in diet primarily from fish to krill (Euphausia spp.).  Additional research on this response is warranted.

Modern eggshell chemistry provides a background with which to compare ancient shells. Penguin rookeries from different areas display differences in chemistry that are likely related to different feeding behavior. When examined through time both nitrogen (below) and carbon (below) show significant variation that likely reflects long-term trends in feeding behavior. Download GSA poster. This research was featured as the lead article and cover illustration in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (July 10th, 2007). The New York Times science page, National Geographic, Nature News, and Discovery News featured articles about this research.




Bill has also conducted a research trip to Iceland with graduate student Kristin Dietrich where they collected water samples along a meandering 6-day 5,000km drive. These samples will be used top constrain regional variability in isotope values and provide a basis for which to evaluate regional differences in nearshore molluscan isotope values.

Kristin and Bill are working with University of Colorado scientist John Andrews to compare the long-term record of climate in Iceland to the record of human activity recorded in the Viking Sagas. This research is highlighted by NSERC in a March 8th Press Release. Their research was presented by Kristin at the 35th Annual International Arctic Workshop in Edmonton Alberta on March 10th, 2005. This story of climate and the sagas has been featured in several newspapers in Canada (Saskatoon Star Phoenix page1, page2, Toronto Star, and Vancouver Sun) and around the world (Iceland and Western Europe). Click here for a short Earth Watch Radio interview on the comparison between clams and sagas and another interview on the "End of the World" viking style.


In June and July 2004, Bill conducted a 5-week sampling trip in Australia where water samples, speleothems, and trees were collected. Graduate student Justin Dodd and Bob Deegan traveled with Bill on the 12,000km 4WD trip through the Northern Territories, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

JustinJustin Dodd sampling water in the outback. Morning in the Northern Territories. A drive in the Northern Territories. A drive in the Outback1, Outback2, Outback3, Outback4, eggs in the Outback, the 12 apostles in 120kph wind, surfs up.

TasmanianDevilsTasmanian Devils in southern Tasmania. Click here for a short feeding video. Click here for a short Tasmanian driving video. Tasmania2, Tasmania3, Tasmania4.
Bill and RoosMingling with the locals in Tasmania.
Outback"Roughing it" in the Outback of South Australia. Justin is now writing up a manuscript on the hydrology of Tasmania based on stable isotope values of lakes and rivers.

Undergraduate students Jason Brassuer and Fina Nelson of the Saskatchewan Isotope Lab participated in an international fieldwork project in the Dominican Republic in June 2005. Jason's field notes can be found at Jason is currently reconstructing a detailed meteorological record from robotically sampled tree ring cellulose collected in central New York.

Chris&DanMSc student Dan Laporte is conducting his thesis work on several Hirnatian sequences near Eureka and Elko Nevada. This National Science Foundation funded research is being carried out under the supervision of Chris Holmden and Bill Patterson along with collaborators Dr. Stan Finney of the University of California Long Beach and Dr. Chuck Mitchell from the University of Buffalo. Dan's research includes the highest resolution reconstruction of carbon isotope variability for the Hirnantian of the Ordovician Period. This 440 million year old sequence includes two major glaciations while models predict atmospheric CO2 levels to be 16-20 times the present concentration.

Chris and Dan Laporte on one of the Hirnantian outcrops in Nevada.

Postdoctoral fellow/research scientist Dr. Antoine Zazzo and Bill have recently completed two studies on techniques to derive the most detailed records of feeding behavior and climate variation from bovine teeth. Dr. Zazzo used the micromilling devices in the Saskatchewan Isotope Lab to extract very high-resolution aliquots of enamel from the teeth of steer that were fed carefully-controlled diets. Diets were changed after 9 months and the shift in isotope values indicated the maximum possible resolution obtainable from tooth enamel sampling. The first paper discusses Implications for mineralization pattern and isotopic attenuation, whereas the second paper focuses on reconstruction of mammal individual history.

Cowsign Bill