Oregon State University


Anders Carlson

Anders Carlson photo
Associate Professor

Discipline: Geology and Geophysics
Office: Burt 114
Phone: 541-737-3625
Email: acarlson@coas.oregonstate.edu


Broadly speaking, my research involves the interaction of ice sheets, oceans and the climate system on orbital to centennial time-scales. I am interested in the effects of deglaciation on climate, constructing paleoclimate records, and the role of the ocean in modulating the climate response between hemispheres.  I currently have projects working on the Laurentide and Greenland Ice Sheets addressing the behavior of these ice sheets and their effects on climate over multiple glacial cycles. My approach to research uses a combination of dating methods (cosmogenic dating, radiocarbon), analytical techniques (isotope and trace element analysis, geochemistry), field geology, and conceptual and analytical models. I believe a holistic approach is required to place data into the global picture and vice versa for the applicability of models. 

Research Interests

I am the lead of the PAGES working group, PALeo constraints on SEA-level rise (PALSEA2)

I am part of the larger Quaternary Paleoclimate research group here in CEOAS (website)

Current Research

Extent of the south Greenland Ice Sheet during previous interglaciations

A significant missing component in paleo-reconstructions of Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) behavior has been the lack of an unambiguous ice sheet tracer. The development of such a tracer for the GIS retreat and aerial extent is proposed using terrigenous provenance markers and the different bedrock terrane ages of southern Greenland (Archean versus varying Proterozoic ages). Specifically, streams will be sampled for suspended load sediment from the geologic terranes of southern Greenland. Suspended load sediment will be measured for trace-element and Sr-Nd-Pb isotope composition, and magnetic properties of the sediment will be determined. These data will be compared with previously made and new measurements on a core off of southern Greenland from a well-studied sediment sequence spanning the last 430 kyrs and 5 interglacials. Isotope studies on piston core samples will focus on the silt size fraction in order to minimize the influence of far traveled clay size sediment. Ice rafted sediment will also be avoided. Trace element records combined with previous and newly obtained magnetic records will provide estimates of the response time of the southern GIS to a warming climate by identifying the timing and duration of ice sheet retreat. The Sr-Nd-Pb isotope tracers will allow calculations of sediment sources and when ice retreated off portions of southern Greenland, thus estimating its contribution to higher sea levels. We are no extending this project back to the Pliocene to test the response of the GIS to atmospheric CO2 levels around 400 ppm.

The Holocene retreat history of the Laurentide and Scandinavian Ice Sheets from cosmogenic dating: implications for the sources of Holocene sea-level rise

A major objective of ice sheet and climate research is to understand the responses of ice sheets to climate change. Ascertaining the past rates of ice-sheet retreat and contributions to sea-level rise under climate that was naturally warmer than present provides context for the future Greenland Ice-Sheet response to global warming. Here, this research team proposes to improve the deglacial chronologies and investigate retreat rates of the Laurentide (LIS) and Scandinavian (SIS) Ice Sheets during the early to mid-Holocene (<11.7 ka), a period of time that provides an excellent natural experiment where these terrestrial ice sheets deglaciated under a climate warmer than present but potentially similar to the end of this century. This project proposes to directly date the retreat of the southeastern and eastern LIS margins and the southern, eastern, and northern SIS margins during the early to mid-Holocene using in situ cosmogenic surface exposure ages, significantly improving the chronology for the largest of the LIS domes and the majority of the SIS. The resulting chronologies will be combined with already existing cosmogenic chronologies from western Quebec, northeastern Labrador and southern Finland, and existing minimum limiting radiocarbon dates and varve records. These data will allow calculations of LIS and SIS retreat rates and sea-level rise contributions during the early to mid-Holocene, with the remainder of sea-level rise largely attributable to the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The results will provide estimates of the natural rates at which ice sheets can melt under radiative forcing that may be analogous to the climate of the end of this century.

The deglacial and Holocene history of the southwest Greenland Ice Sheet and its relationship to oceanic-atmospheric variability

The response of ice sheets to global warming is the largest uncertainty in predictions of future sea level rise. Of great concern is the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS), which, if it melted entirely, would raise sea level ~7 m. We are investigating the response of the southwestern GIS to the last major period of climate warming, the last deglaciation ~21-7 ka, providing a better understanding of the GIS sensitivity to a warming climate. Specifically, we are dating the onset of deglaciation and when the GIS retreated to its present extent using surface exposure ages on boulders, which determine how long a boulder has been exposed to cosmic radiation since ice retreat. Samples are from three transects in southwestern Greenland. Coastal dates from peaks will date the onset of GIS thinning and determine the sensitivity of the southwestern GIS to initial climate warming during the last deglaciation. Dates adjacent to the present GIS margin will determine what climate conditions forced the GIS to retreat to a smaller than present extent. Furthermore, we are investigating the late Holocene variability of southwest GIS margins and their relationship to regional climate change of the last several millennia.


2000 - B.A. Augustana College, Geology (honors) & German (summa cum laude)

2002 - M.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Geology

2006 - Ph.D. Oregon State University, Geology & Oceanography (minor)

2007 - Post Doc Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


2007-2012  Assistant Professor, Dept. of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison

2012          Associate Professor, Dept. of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison

2012-         Associate Professor, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University

Graduate Students

Current Students

Kelsey Winsor (Ph.D. candidate) - Linking ocean temperature changes with southwest Greenland Ice Sheet recession during the last deglaciation using cosmogenic dating and Mg/Ca temperatures

Gaylen Sinclair (Ph.D. student) - starting fall 2013

Former Students and Postdocs

Lisa Colville - M.S., 2009, Geochemical proxies to constrain the extent of the southern Greenland Ice Sheet during the last 2 interglacials (teaching at UW-Fox Valley)

Libby Obbink - M.S., 2009, North American freshwater routing during the last deglaciation and abrupt climate change (now at U. Southern California)

Kelsey Winsor - M.S., 2010, Labrador Sea temperature and hydrography variability over the last two deglaciations (continuing Ph.D.)

Dan Murray - M.S., 2011, Northern Hemisphere forcing of the last deglaciation in Southern Patagonia (now at Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey)

Beth Welke - B.S., 2011, Deglacial changes in Labrador Sea sedimentology (M.S. Indiana U.-Purdue U. in Earth Sciences; now a Ph.D. student at University of Arizona)

Jeremy Hoffman - B.A., 2011, Linking the 8.2 ka event and its freshwater forcing in the Labrador Sea (undergraduate at Augustana College, PhD student at Oregon State U. in Geology)

Dr. Alberto Reyes - Ph.D. from University of Alberta, postdoc 2011-2012, now Lecturer at Queens University, Belfast

Mel Reusche - B.S., 2013, Timing of late Holocene glacier advances on Svalbard using cosmogenic radionuclide ages

Angus Moore - B.S., 2013, Lithological controls on cosmogenic inheritance in southern Wisconsin (M.S. student at Purdue University)

Dave Ullman - Ph.D., 2013, Cosmogenic dating of Laurentide Ice Sheet retreat and modeling the radiative forcing of retreat, now a postdoc at Oregon State University


43. Reyes, A.V., Carlson, A.E., Beard, B.L., Hatfield, R.G., Stoner, J.S., Winsor, K., Welke, B., and Ullman, D.J., in press 2014, South Greenland ice-sheet collapse during Marine Isotope Stage 11: Nature.

42. Reusche, M., Winsor, K., Carlson, A.E., Marcott, S.A., Rood, D.H., Novak, A., Roof, S., Retelle, M., Werner, A., Caffee, M., and Clark, P.U., 2014, 10Be surface exposure ages on the late-Pleistocene and Holocene history of Linnébreen on Svalbard: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 89, p. 5-12. PDF

41. Ullman, D.J., LeGrande, A.N., Carlson, A.E., Anslow, F.S., and Licciardi, J.M., 2014, Assessing the impact of Laurentide Ice-Sheet topography on glacial climate: Climate of the Past, v. 10, p. 487-507. PDF

40. Carlson, A.E., 2013, Global Younger Dryas: Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, v. 3, p. 126-134. PDF

39. Hatfield, R.G., Stoner, J.S., Carlson, A.E., Reyes, A.V., and Housen, B.A., 2013, Source as a controlling factor on the quality and interpretation of sediment magnetic records from the northern North Atlantic: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 368, p. 69-77. PDF

38. He, F., Shakun, J.D., Clark, P.U., Carlson, A.E., Liu, Z., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., and Kutzbach, J.E., 2013, Northern Hemisphere forcing of Southern Hemisphere climate during the last deglaciation: Nature, v. 494, p. 81-85. PDF

37. Carlson, A.E., and Clark, P.U., 2012, Ice-sheet sources of sea-level rise and freshwater discharge during the last deglaciation: Reviews of Geophysics, v. 50, doi: 10.1029/ 2011RG000371. PDF

36. Winsor, K., Carlson, A.E., Klinkhammer, G.P. Stoner, J.S., and Hatfield, R.H., 2012, Evolution of the northeast Labrador Sea during the last interglaciation: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 13, doi: 10.1029/2012GC004263. PDF

35. Carlson, A.E., and Winsor, K., 2012, Northern Hemisphere ice-sheet responses to past climate warming: Nature Geoscience, v. 5, 607-613. PDF

34. Hoffman, J.S., Carlson, A.E., Winsor, K., Klinkhammer, G.P., LeGrande, A.N., Andrews, J.T., and Strasser, J.C., 2012, Linking the 8.2 ka event and its freshwater forcing in the Labrador Sea: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 39, doi: 10.1029/2012GL053047. PDF

33. Liu, Z., Carlson, A.E., He, F., Brady, E.C., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Briegleb, B.P., Wehrenberg, M., Clark, P.U., Wu, S., Cheng, J., Zhang, J., Noone, D., and Zhu, J., 2012, Younger Dryas Cooling and the Greenland Climate Response to CO2: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202183109. PDF

32. Murray, D.S., Carlson, A.E., Singer, B.S., Anslow, F.S., He, F., Caffee, M., Marcott, S.A., Liu, Z., and Otto-Bliesner, B.L., 2012, Northern Hemisphere forcing of the last deglaciation in southern Patagonia: Geology, v. 40, p. 631-634. PDF

31. Sanchez-Goni, M.F., Bakker, P., Desprat, S., Carlson, A.E., Van Meerbeeck, C., Peyron, O., Naughton, F., Fletcher, W.J., Eynaud, F., Rossignol, L., and Renssen, H., 2012, European climate optimum and enhanced Greenland melt during the Last Interglacial: Geology, v. 40, p. 627-630. PDF

30. Clark, P.U., Shakun, J.D., Baker, P.A., Bartlein, P.J., Brewer, S., Brook, E.J., Carlson, A.E., Cheng, H., Kaufman, D.S., Liu, Z., Marchitto, T.M., Mix, A.C., Morrill, C., Otto-Bliesner, B., Pahnke, K., Russell, J.M., Whitlock, C., Adkins, J.F., Blois, J.L., Clark, J., Colman, S.C., Curry, W.B., Flower, B.P., He, F., Johnson, T.C., Lynch-Stieglitz, J., Markgraf, V., McManus, J.F., Mitrovica, J.X., Moreno, P.I., and Williams, J.W., 2012, Global climate evolution during the last deglaciation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1116619109.  PDF 

29. Carlson, A.E., Ullman, D.J., Anslow, F.S., He, F., Clark, P.U., Liu, Z., and Otto-Bliesner, B.L., 2012, Modeling the Surface Mass Balance Response of the Laurentide Ice Sheet to Bølling warming and Its Contribution to Meltwater Pulse 1A: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 315-316, p. 24-29. PDF

28. Gingerich, P.D., Zalmout, I.S., Antar, M.S.M., Williams, E.M., Carlson, A.E., Kelly, D.C., and Peters, S.P., 2012, Large-scale glaciation and deglaciation of Antarctica during the late Eocene: REPLY: Geology, v. 40, p. e255. PDF

27. Carlson, A.E., 2011, Ice Sheets and Sea Level in Earth’s Past: Nature Education Knowledge, 2(12): 3. LINK

26. Carlson, A.E., Principato, S.M., Chapel, D.M., and Mickelson, D.M., 2011, Quaternary geology of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 106.

25. Colville, E.J., Carlson, A.E., Beard, B.L., Hatfield, R.G., Stoner, J.S., Reyes, A.V., and Ullman, D.J., 2011, Sr-Nd-Pb isotope evidence for ice-sheet presence on southern Greenland during the last interglacial: Science, v. 333, p. 620-623. PDF

24. Marcott, S.A., Clark, P.U., Padman, L., Klinkhammer, G.P., Springer, S., Liu, Z., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Carlson, A.E., Ungerer, A., Padman, J., He, F., Cheng, J., and Schmittner, A., 2011, Ice-shelf collapse from subsurface warming as a trigger for Heinrich events: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1104772108. PDF

23. Montero-Serrano, J.-C., Bout-Roumazeilles, V., Carlson, A.E., Tribovillard, N., Bory, A., Meunier, G., Sionneau, T., Flower, B.P., Martinez, P., Billy, I., and Riboulleau, A., 2011, Contrasting rainfall patterns over North America during the Holocene and Last Interglacial as recorded by sediments of the northern Gulf of Mexico: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 38, doi: 10.1029/2011GL048194. PDF

22. Carlson, A.E., 2010, What Caused the Younger Dryas Cold Event?: Geology, v. 29, p. 383-384. PDF

21. Obbink, E.A., Carlson, A.E., and Klinkhammer, G.P., 2010, Eastern North American Freshwater Discharge during the Bølling-Allerød Warm Periods: Geology, v. 29, p. 171-174. PDF

20. Peters, S.E., Carlson, A.E., Kelly, D.C., and Gingerich, P.D., 2010, Large-scale Glaciation and Deglaciation of Antarctica in the Late Eocene: Geology, v. 38, p. 723-726. PDF

19. Shakun, J.D., and Carlson, A.E., 2010, A Global Perspective On Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene Climate Change: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 29, p. 1801-1806. PDF

18. Carlson, A.E., 2009, Geochemical constraints on the Laurentide Ice Sheet contribution to Meltwater Pulse 1A: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 28, p. 1625-1630. PDF

17. Carlson, A.E., Anslow, F.S., Obbink, E.A., LeGrande, A.N., Ullman, D.J., and Licciardi, J.M., 2009, Surface-Melt Driven Laurentide Ice-Sheet Retreat during the Early Holocene: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 36, doi: 10.1029/2009GL040948. PDF

16. Carlson, A.E., Clark, P.U., Haley, B.A., and Klinkhammer, G.P., 2009, Routing of Western Canadian Plains Runoff during the 8.2 ka Cold Event: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 36, doi: 10.1029/2009GL038778. PDF

15. Carlson, A.E., Clark, P.U., and Hostetler, S.W., 2009, Comment: Radiocarbon deglaciation chronology of the Thunder Bay, Ontario area and implications for ice sheet retreat patterns: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 28, doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.05.005. PDF

14. Clark, P.U., Dyke, A.S., Shakun, J.D., Carlson, A.E., Clark, J., Wohlfarth, B., Hostetler, S.W., Mitrovica, J.X., and McCabe, A.M., 2009, The Last Glacial Maximum: Science, v. 325, p. 710-714. PDF

13. Liu, Z., Otto-Bliesner, B., He, F., Brady, E., Thomas, R., Clark, P.U., Carlson, A.E., Lynch-Stieglitz, J., Curry, W., Brook, E., Erickson, D., Jacob, R., Kutzbach, J., and Chen, J., 2009, Transient Climate Simulation of Last Deglaciation with a New Mechanism for Bølling-Allerød Warming: Science, v. 325, p. 310-314. PDF

12. Carlson, A.E., 2008, Why there was not a Younger Dryas-like event during the Penultimate Deglaciation: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 27, p. 882-887. PDF

11. Carlson, A.E., and Clark, P.U., 2008, Rapid climate change and Arctic Ocean freshening: Comment: Geology, v. 36, p. e177. PDF

10. Carlson, A.E., LeGrande A.N., Oppo, D.W., Came, R.E., Schmidt, G.A., Anslow, F.S., Licciardi, J.M., and Obbink, E.A., 2008, Rapid early Holocene deglaciation of the Laurentide Ice Sheet: Nature Geoscience, v. 1, p. 620-624. PDF

9. Carlson, A.E., Oppo, D.W., Came, R.E., LeGrande, A.N., Keigwin, LD., and Curry, W.B., 2008, Subtropical salinity variability and Atlantic meridional circulation during deglaciation: Geology, v. 36, p. 991-994. PDF

8. Carlson, A.E., Stoner, J.S., Donnelly, J.P., and Hillaire-Marcel, C., 2008, Response of the southern Greenland Ice Sheet during the last two deglaciations: Geology, v. 36, p. 359-362. PDF

7. Sane, S.M., Desai, C.S., Jenson, J.W., Contractor, D.N., Carlson, A.E., and Clark, P.U., 2008, Application of the Disturbed State Concept (DSC) Model to Two Pleistocene Tills: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 27, p. 267-283. PDF

6. Carlson, A.E., Clark, P.U., Raisbeck, G.M., and Brook, E.J., 2007, Rapid Holocene deglaciation of the Labrador Sector of the Laurentide Ice Sheet: Journal of Climate, v. 20, p. 5126-5133. PDF

5. Carlson, A.E., Clark, P.U., Haley, B.A., Klinkhammer, G.P., Simmons, K., Brook, E.J., and Meissner, K., 2007, Geochemical proxies of North American freshwater routing during the Younger Dryas cold event: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 104, p. 6556-6561. PDF

4. Carlson, A.E., Jenson, J. W., and Clark, P.U., 2007, Modeling the subglacial hydrology of the James Lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 26, p. 1384-1397. PDF

3. Carlson, A.E., Mickelson, D.M., Principato, S.M., and Chapel, D.M., 2005, The genesis of the northern Kettle Moraine, Wisconsin: Geomorphology, v. 36, p. 365-374. PDF

2. Carlson, A.E., 2004, Dewatering structures genesis and its implications on melt-out till identification: Journal of Glaciology, v. 50, p. 17-24.PDF

1. Carlson, A.E., Jenson, J.W., and Clark P.U., 2004, Field observations from the Tiskilwa Till, IL and Sky Pilot Till, MB of the Laurentide Ice Sheet: Géographie physique et Quaternaire, v. 58, p. 229-239. PDF

Other Publications

Milne, G., Carlson, A.E., Dutton, A., Long, A., and Rybak, O., 2014, Estimating rates and sources of sea level change during past warm periods: PAGES news, v. 22, p. 42. 

Schmittner, A., Harrison, S.P., Carlson, A.E., Mix, A.C., Kageyama, M., and Kucera, M., 2014, PMIP Ocean - Understanding changes since the Last Glacial Maximum: PAGES news, v. 22, p. 45. 

Dutton, A., Stone, E.J., and Carlson, A.E., 2013, Ice sheet climate interactions: Implications for coastal engineering: 5th PALSEA Workshop: PAGES news, v. 21, p. 40.

Carlson, A.E., and Stoner, J.S., 2012, Assessing the history of the Greenland Ice Sheet through ocean drilling: PAGES news, v. 20, p. 97.

Carlson, A.E., Stoner, J.S., DEGREE Members, 2011, Assessing the History of the Greenland Ice Sheet through Ocean Drilling: Ocean Leadership, NSF, and PAGES workshop report, 25 pp.

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