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Paul Smith’s professor, students research in South Africa

Paul Smith's College professor Curt Stager and Jay White (right) collecting a sediment core from a South African lake.

Paul Smith's College professor Curt Stager and Jay White (right) collecting a sediment core from a South African lake.

— Warming climate may mean less rainfall for drought-sensitive regions of the Southern Hemisphere, according to a study published by a professor at Paul Smith's College and an international team of researchers and students.

As part of the study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, Curt Stager and colleagues found that rainfall in South Africa over the last 1,400 years was affected by temperature, with more rain falling during cool periods and less during warm ones.

The work was recently published in the online journal, “Climate of the Past.”

“Climate models have been showing that global warming could push storm tracks southwards and away from the mainlands of southern Africa, South America and Australia,” Stager said. “This research supports those predictions of increasing aridity, which could lead to major problems for societies and unique ecosystems in those already-arid places.”

Stager, who was lead author of the study, collected sediment samples from Lake Verlorenvlei, in South Africa. By analyzing tiny, glassy-shelled algae that were preserved in sediment layers brought from the bottom of the lake, he and the researchers were able to reconstruct rainfall patterns dating back to 600 A.D.

Two Paul Smith's College undergraduate students, Christiaan King and Jay White, also participated in the study, along with scientists from the University of Maine and institutions in South Africa and Europe.

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