Workshop: Water and Climate Change: Connecting the Paleoclimate Record to Future Projections

Conveners: David McGee and Paul O’Gorman
Endicott House, Dedham MA (
June 3-6, 2018

This workshop aims to improve our understanding of the response of water availability to climate change by bringing together researchers with expertise in paleohydrology, modern hydrological change, and atmosphere and ocean dynamics. In presentations, group discussions and poster sessions, we will present new research on the water cycle in different climates. We will explore and clarify the relation between paleoclimate data and projections of future changes, with a focus on systematic hydrological responses that are relevant for both past and future climates.

We invite contributions exploring the response of the hydrological cycle to climate changes past and present. In addition to analysis of changes in terrestrial hydrology, we welcome analysis of global-scale changes and changes over the ocean. We are particularly interested in studies addressing the following questions:

1. How can paleoclimate records best be used to offer quantitative constraints on past hydrological changes? Where quantitative estimates differ from the results of climate model simulations run under paleoclimate conditions, do these differences reflect proxy bias, model physics, or boundary conditions not included in the simulation? What steps need to be taken to better characterize particularly important paleoclimates or to improve our ability to link paleoclimate data to hydrological variables?

2. What is the role of changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation in past and projected future hydrological changes? Do changes in rain belt position and storm track positions suggested by paleo-records agree with expectations based on theory and models?

3. Changes in precipitation over ocean are understood through concepts such as warmer-get-wetter, wet-get-wetter, and energetic controls on shifts in the ITCZ. To what extent do such ideas apply to hydrological changes over land, and how do the magnitude of past changes compare with theoretical expectations that are typically only assessed in climate model simulations?

4. What are key factors governing the regional and global response of water availability on land under future warming? To what extent are different measures of drought adequate for studies of climate change, and what steps can help reduce uncertainties in projections?

The workshop is by invitation; limited spaces will also be available to MIT graduate students and researchers for day attendance.

Contact: Faith Zhang,

Abstract submission: Contributions, and in particular talks, should be prepared to communicate to a diverse audience spanning the paleoclimate, hydrology, and climate dynamics communities.

Invited attendees should submit one talk abstract of less than 300 words. Talks will be approximately 15 minutes. Talk abstracts should be submitted by February 15, 2018 to our Dropbox.

Student and postdoc attendees may submit one poster abstract; poster sessions will be held in the late afternoon of Monday and Tuesday. Poster abstracts of less than 300 words should be submitted by April 4, 2018 to our Dropbox.

Travel and lodging: The workshop will begin with a welcome reception with drinks and light fare on the evening of Sunday, June 3. The workshop will end after lunch on Wednesday, June 6. Invited speakers will be staying at Endicott House. Meals on Monday through Wednesday will be provided at Endicott House for invited speakers, and lunch will be provided for day attendees. Note that the welcome reception on Sunday includes light fare but not dinner; for attendees who arrive sufficiently early, Endicott House suggests having dinner at local restaurants.

Endicott House is approximately 25 miles outside of Boston. If you would like to coordinate ground transport to Endicott House with other travelers, please email your flight information to once you have made your flight reservations. Taxis and app-based car services (Lyft, Uber) are available to transport attendees from Boston Logan airport. We will update this site in the coming months if we are able to arrange other ground transportation to and from the airport.