Questions for Dorothy Peteet

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Learn more about my research Have a question for the ecologist?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Hi Dr. Peteet,

In addition to the questions people post online, visitors leave question cards in the museum galleries. Here are the first couple:

How do you get core samples? Are there different techniques for different materials?


When does weather become climate? How quickly can climate really change?

posted on Fri, 07/13/2012 - 10:20am
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

We extract sediment cores from marshes, lakes, and bogs. For marshes, we use a Dachnowski sediment corer, which extracts a half-cylinder of sediment. For soft lake sediments, we use a modified Livingstone piston corer, and for bogs we use either of the two. We keep adding on extension rods to go deeper, after extracting 1-meter cores. Then we wrap and refrigerate them.
Weather is short-term atmospheric conditions, and climate is a sum of weather...for many days, months, a season, or even a year. Climate can change very abruptly, as we see from past records of tree rings and pollen, as well as other paleorecords. The Younger Dryas event in Greenland ice cores occurred as a shift from cold to warm in only 50 years.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:06pm
 sydney slone's picture
sydney slone says:

how did you get interested in your science? what did you do to become a paleoclimatologist?

posted on Tue, 07/17/2012 - 1:44pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

I was interested in plants outdoors when I was a kid...and tried to learn all I could about them. Identification of leaves, trees, and flowers led to identification of seeds and pollen when as an undergraduate Botany major, and in graduate school I took courses in climate and paleoclimate to become a paleoclimatologist.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:08pm
Liam's picture
Liam says:

How do you collect ice cores that are many meters deep?

posted on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 2:53pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

I haven't actually collected ice cores, but major scientific collaborative efforts have gone into extracting ice cores from Greenland, Antarctica, and other ice caps in other regions such as China and Peru. The principle is the same...drilling down and extracting the core, but with big hydraulic drilling equipment in this case.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:12pm
chase's picture
chase says:

has minnesota had many hot wet summers like this year?

posted on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 9:38am
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

I don't know, but you can check out the NOAA database for long-term weather and climate records from a particular site.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:15pm
scientistgal :)'s picture
scientistgal :) says:

of course minnessota has. minnestota has been having really goofy weather.

posted on Sun, 11/04/2012 - 2:48pm
Elena's picture
Elena says:

what makes the weather change?????

posted on Fri, 07/27/2012 - 9:00pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

Many things make the weather change...from the earth's rotation around the sun to shifts in sea surface pressure, sea surface temperature, atmospheric winds, etc. You need to study a lot about the weather to understand high and low pressure and how the system works....but its worth it.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:17pm
Jenna &amp; Kirra's picture
Jenna & Kirra says:

What is it like to be a female scientist at NASA? What made you want to work for NASA?

posted on Tue, 07/31/2012 - 12:14pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

My research in a small NASA center in NY (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) was stimulating and supportive. I wanted to work at this NASA center because of the particular interest here in climate and paleoclimate. We use climate models here as a way to understand modern and past climate, in order to better predict future climate.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:21pm
alice's picture
alice says:

Why did you want to be a scientist? What is your most favourite scientistic find?

posted on Sun, 08/05/2012 - 9:14am
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

I like exploring things, and asking questions. It is also fun to try and find answers, and to work with other people towards a common goal. My most favorite scientific find is probably identifying seeds that signalled a return to cold conditions in a sediment core from Alaska.....they were exciting to find.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:24pm
maren and michael's picture
maren and michael says:

How are moutains formed?

posted on Wed, 08/08/2012 - 10:54am
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

I don't work on this problem...but mountains are formed many volcanoes, or as remnant places where softer rocks have eroded. You can find lots online about this...

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:25pm
Miles's picture
Miles says:

how will climate change effect the wolf population throughout the midwest and canada?

posted on Wed, 08/08/2012 - 4:36pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

Of course if climate warms, the wolf population may move north. However, much depends on the predator-prey cycles, and probably on what humans are doing in their territory.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:26pm
Kiera's picture
Kiera says:

Dr. Peteet, Do you get really dirty doing your job?

posted on Wed, 08/08/2012 - 5:00pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

Yes...many times we get very dirty extracting our sediment cores from the muddy wetlands - lakes, bogs, or marshes. It's fun.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:27pm
Tracy's picture
Tracy says:

will this winter be as mild as last winter

posted on Sun, 08/12/2012 - 4:36pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

It is difficult to predict winter temperature from the I don't think I'll guess.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:28pm
scientistgal :)'s picture
scientistgal :) says:

probably not. its been ok so far.

posted on Sun, 11/04/2012 - 2:48pm
valentina cardenas's picture
valentina cardenas says:

why are some winters so much colders than others?

posted on Sun, 08/12/2012 - 6:55pm
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

The temperature drops depend on how far south the jet stream dips in the US, bringing very cold Arctic air. When the jet stream comes far south and locks into a holding pattern, it can be very cold for a long period of time.

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:30pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Hi Dr. Peteet

Here's another question card from the Science Museum:

Where are some of the places you have done research? What's the most interesting one?

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 8:36am
Dorothy Peteet's picture
Dorothy Peteet says:

Many interesting places in Alaska along the coastline and north of the Brooks Range. My favorite is an area near Yakutat, Alaska...very interesting piedmont glaciers, trees at their northern limit, and many interesting animals. Siberia was also interesting, and the Hudson Valley, NY

posted on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:33pm
girly's picture
girly says:

will you please write a biografy, 'cause you job seems cool

posted on Wed, 08/15/2012 - 10:19am
Christa D.'s picture
Christa D. says:

I am a lab technician from LacCore (The National Lacustrine Core Facility or Limnological Research Center) at the University of Minnesota and we assit paleoclimatoligists, and others, with their research. Have you heard of our lab and our lake sediement collections?

posted on Wed, 08/15/2012 - 4:05pm
trinity's picture
trinity says:

what was weather like for the dinosaurs?

posted on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 9:54am
scientistgal :)'s picture
scientistgal :) says:

probably really warm but thats just my guess.

posted on Sun, 11/04/2012 - 2:49pm
anna's picture
anna says:

your job looks ver fun and entertaining so how do you veiw your job and do you like what you do?

posted on Fri, 08/24/2012 - 11:02am
margaret's picture
margaret says:

how do you know when a heat wave is coming?

posted on Thu, 08/30/2012 - 9:40am
tyson's picture
tyson says:

Why does it take moss etc. longer to recover in a higher altitude such as a mountain range?

posted on Sat, 09/01/2012 - 1:31pm
Meg's picture
Meg says:

if you were to go to a lake that is one hundred years old what would you find in the bottom of it

posted on Sat, 09/01/2012 - 2:42pm
grainne may's picture
grainne may says:

hello ms. peteet what do you do as an ecologist ? Is fun ? where do you live ?

posted on Wed, 09/05/2012 - 9:39am
sally monchinbocker 's picture
sally monchinbocker says:

what do ecologists do for a job?

posted on Sat, 09/08/2012 - 2:31pm
mara's picture
mara says:

are the polar bears gonna run out of ice and die?

posted on Sun, 09/30/2012 - 11:47am
mary's picture
mary says:

is there going to be a lot of snow this year?

posted on Sun, 09/30/2012 - 11:50am
Andog's picture
Andog says:

What made you decide that you wanted to be a scientist?

posted on Sat, 10/06/2012 - 10:28am
scientistgal :)'s picture
scientistgal :) says:

what made me want to be a scientist would be the fact that all the cool stuff revolves science, everything involves science

posted on Sun, 11/04/2012 - 2:45pm
jocelyn's picture
jocelyn says:

dear ecologist, what is it like to be an ecologist ,today i did a science project at my school we did it with a mock rock and we found out that it had,flouer,playdoh,shells,
salt,cement,sand and i think a couple other things but i cant remember those things and i have one more question whaat does a paleoclimatologist do?
your best

posted on Sat, 10/06/2012 - 12:09pm
jade's picture
jade says:

hi dorthy ive allways wonderd how tornados form? why do volcanos eruppt? im going to be a meterologist when i grow up jade

posted on Sat, 10/06/2012 - 2:20pm
swimmergirl123's picture
swimmergirl123 says:

Where do you study ecology?

posted on Wed, 10/10/2012 - 10:50am
Claire Baker's picture
Claire Baker says:

what wasthe thing that had got you intrested in doing what you do? i would love to hear about it plus how old were you when you started

posted on Thu, 10/11/2012 - 9:43am
Christalynn's picture
Christalynn says:

Do you like your jobs if you even have one our two.

Do you like working.

posted on Sat, 10/13/2012 - 11:40am
Kaylana's picture
Kaylana says:

how can u tell if it will be a warm winter or cold winter?

posted on Fri, 10/19/2012 - 1:36pm
amir karhon taylor's picture
amir karhon taylor says:

do you like cool things like rocks and things

posted on Fri, 10/19/2012 - 4:23pm
jessika's picture
jessika says:

what is an ecoclogist?

posted on Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:27am
mikaela 's picture
mikaela says:

Hi Dr.peteet,

I wanted to ask how do you get your core samples?

posted on Sat, 10/20/2012 - 2:43pm
Reese   10's picture
Reese 10 says:

how do climates change and whhy do they change

posted on Sun, 10/21/2012 - 2:03pm
Gilbert's picture
Gilbert says:

how can we stop polutting the Air and Mississippi River? Make the Mississippi River cllean and drinkable water?

posted on Sun, 10/21/2012 - 2:29pm
bob jimmy's picture
bob jimmy says:

what is the greatest discovery you have made??? or your favorite discovery of someone elses discovery???

posted on Thu, 11/08/2012 - 3:59pm
isaak's picture
isaak says:

what is an ecologist? Isaak - 9 y.o

posted on Sat, 11/10/2012 - 11:52am
25-9-12-12-9-1-13!!!'s picture
25-9-12-12-9-1-13!!! says:

Why do we have severe storms?

posted on Sun, 11/18/2012 - 1:58pm
noneofyourbusiness's picture
noneofyourbusiness says:

what will the earth b like in a 1,000,000 years

posted on Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:41pm
Jacob's picture
Jacob says:

how has the ozone been decreasing lately

posted on Fri, 11/23/2012 - 4:14pm
jacob's picture
jacob says:

why are the sharks disapearing

posted on Fri, 11/23/2012 - 6:53pm
maddy's picture
maddy says:

is it possible to take core samples from the ocean floor?

posted on Sat, 11/24/2012 - 2:49pm
maddy's picture
maddy says:

is it possible to collect core samples from the ocean floor? and if so, what sort of information could that sample tell us about our planet? would this information be in any way valuable?

posted on Sat, 11/24/2012 - 2:52pm
maddy's picture
maddy says:

what inspired u to become an ecologist? where did u study?

posted on Sat, 11/24/2012 - 2:54pm
maddy's picture
maddy says:

have u ever been in any dangerous situations in your line of work? not that being an ecologist is that dangerous but still, just wondering ;) :)

posted on Sat, 11/24/2012 - 2:55pm
Anna and Cali's picture
Anna and Cali says:

why does the world turn? and what is the major importance of the sun?

posted on Sat, 12/08/2012 - 3:27pm
dan koch's picture
dan koch says:

with all of the discussion about climate change, what time period can we compare the current warming to recent history? Is it similar to the warming period prior to 900AD?

posted on Sat, 01/05/2013 - 1:39pm