Deciphering a 10,000-Year-Old Weather Report


Hillary Sletten in Avaiki Cave, Niue. (Photo by Joe Lambert.)

Newswise — Geologists recently descended into caves on a small island in the middle of the South Pacific to try and gain a better understanding of weather patterns occurring as far back as 10,000 years ago.

The researchers blogged about their experiences on the University of Alabama website at

Led by Dr. Paul Aharon and funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Alabama scientists (including Dr. W. Joe Lambert and doctoral student Hillary Sletten) were on the island of Niue (pronounced new-ay) from July 8-Aug. 5.

The stalagmites in the island’s caves contain about 10,000 years of rainfall records driven by El-Niño that can be revealed through laboratory analysis.

The UA group is looking to verify the impact the El-Niño/La Niña patterns have had historically on climate change.

This could provide the scientists with more insight as to how our global weather patterns may continue changing.

Staff from the Niue Meteorological Service will continue dripwater sampling from a cave every month for the next year as part of the ongoing project.

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