How Do We Know?
Fossil Pollen

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Current research in the Illinois State Museum's Palynology laboratories includes studies in the Northern Great Plains region, with an emphasis on short-term climatic change, drought, and fire. Results indicate a highly variable climate and drought cycle. Work on very ancient sites in Florida has demonstrated a link between ice-age climates there and the North Atlantic region. Work in Illinois includes analysis of several lakes in the northeastern part of the State. One of these sites, Nelson Lake in Kane County, contains a continuous record extending from the present to 17,000 years ago just after retreat of the great Laurentide Ice Sheet when tundra-like vegetation dominated the landscape. The vegetation was far different from the mosaic of prairie and bur-oak groves that occurred before European settlement or the corn and soybean fields of today! Research is also ongoing from some sinkhole ponds in Missouri that may yield information about the development of the Ozark oak-hickory-pine forests.
Nelson Lake sediment core
Nelson Lake sediment core


Curator of Botany, Dr. Eric Grimm, is coordinator of the North American Pollen Database (NAPD), which archives fossil and modern pollen from thousands of sites across North America. Funding for the Database is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Paleoclimatology Program. Researchers from throughout North America have contributed data to the database. Data are entered and checked at the Illinois State Museum and then sent to the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in Boulder, Colorado. The database is available from the NDGC Web site. The pollen database is a valuable resource for international global change research.


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http://exhibits.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/midewin/palynology03.html, Last modified September 1st 2011, 03:13PM.