High Resolution Sedimentary Archives of Past Millennium Hurricane Activity in the Bahama Archipelago
Elizabeth Wallace, Ph.D., 2020
Jeffrey Donnelly, Advisor
Little is known about how Atlantic hurricane activity changes on long timescales. This thesis uses proxy development and proxy-model integration to constrain the spatiotemporal variability in hurricane activity in the Bahama Archipelago over the past millennium. I present annually-resolved archives of storm activity derived from sediment cores from blue holes on three islands in the Bahama Archipelago: South Andros, Long Island, and Middle Caicos. Dramatic differences between these records suggest localized controls on the hurricane patterns observed by each island. Thus, compiling these records together more accurately captures regional variations in hurricane strikes. Integrating our new Bahama Archipelago compilation with compiled paleohurricane records from the U.S. coastline indicates shifting patterns of hurricane activity over the past millennium between the Gulf Coast and the Bahama Archipelago/New England. Finally, I address whether variability in hurricane strikes observed in Bahamian paleohurricane records is related to climate or random variability using hurricane model output. The signal observed in any individual record of paleohurricane activity from the Bahama Archipelago is driven more by random variability in hurricane tracks than by climate. This thesis lays the groundwork for creating high-resolution paleohurricane records from blue holes and using hurricane models to inform our interpretations of these records.