Extreme events and their impacts are of critical importance for society. Instrumental records are short and provide only a limited perspective on the frequency, magnitude and distribution of extremes. Natural archives offer the prospect of extending this perspective to recent centuries and millennia. In this overview, I will present examples of paleoclimate research that has used climate proxies to reconstruct the history of extreme events. The focus will be on hurricanes, droughts, floods and forest fires.
Raymond Bradley is a University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at UMass Amherst and Director of the Climate System Research Center. His interests are in climate variability across a wide range of time scales, particularly in how present day climate differs from climates in the past, and what may have caused climates to change. Dr. Bradley has written or edited eleven books on climatic change and paleoclimatology, including Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary, and has authored over 120 articles on these topics.