Meet our NSF Graduate Research Fellows: Melissa Harrington

Melissa Harrington stands in a caveDegree Program: Master of Science

My research focuses on past drought in the southwest U.S. I am working to develop a new measure of drought based on trace element concentrations in a stalagmite from a southern Arizona cave. Because certain elements respond to the seasonal cycle of wet and dry, this new index will allow us to reconstruct past drought at annual resolution over thousands of years. Knowing the severity, duration, and frequency of droughts in the past can tell us about the full range of drought we may experience in the future. Then, we can make better informed decisions about how to manage our water supply in future dry periods. This work is especially important in water-stressed regions like the Southwest.

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