Dead clams talking–paleoclimatologist Alan Wanamaker in Arctic climate research

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Al Wanamaker

Iowa State scientist Alan Wanamaker is currently on a boat near the top of Norway studying clams – really old clams, like 500-year-old living clams.

Wanamaker is a paleoclimatologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He and other researchers use isotopic analysis on the clams to document and understand past climates in the North Atlantic Ocean during the last millennium. They study the chemicals in the layers in the clam’s shells. It’s a lab version of tree dating by counting rings in the wood. Scientists can learn about the history of the ocean, including temperatures and circulation patterns.

The first of three blogs from the Norwegian scientific excursion is featured in the online version of the science journal Discover under "Field Notes."

Wanamker, who holds ISU’s David Morehouse Faculty Fellowship, also has an ISU undergraduate student and grad students with him on the boat. Their research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

See related ISU story