Catching Up

Well it’s been an interesting month. I’m not really sure where to begin. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I filed a whistleblower complaint on July 22 with the Office of Special Counsel.

  • I had an op ed released in the Guardian: link

  • I testified to congress to the Natural Resources Committee: link

  • I did an interview with Colorado Matters as soon as I got back to Colorado (literally straight from the airport): link

To be honest, I’m still processing the whirlwind of last week so I won’t attempt to write anything down right now, but I want to say THANK YOU to everyone I have been in touch with lately. It was wonderful getting to meet everyone from the Union of Concerned Scientists. I also really appreciate the opportunity to meet so many members of congress. Representative DeGette was very kind to take time out of her busy schedule to introduce me at the hearing. Representative Neguse has also been an incredible champion of the issues I’m fighting for. It was great to meet Representative Tonko and hear about the bill he has introduced to improve protections for scientists. It was also great to meet Representaive Grijalva’s staff who have been a tremendous support throughout all of this. Finally I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out and shared the things I linked to above. We need to get the word out about the shameful way this administration is censoring science.

I hope by putting my story out there that this will effect some real change. No one should go through what I have been through. It’s been almost six months and I still haven’t found permanent employment. I had to use my unemployment check to pay for flights and hotel to DC to fight for what’s right. I really hope it was worth it. I’m not backing down from this fight any time soon. Thank you all.

Thank you

Hi everyone,

I want to start by thanking everyone who has reached out to me recently in regards to the piece in Reveal:

It’s been a very difficult year as everything unfolded. I don’t really want to get into all of the details of it here, but I think the piece I linked to above did a good job of encapsulating everything. I did not approach Reveal and ask them to investigate this. The author, Elizabeth Shogren, is a former reporter for NPR who I had first met when she interviewed me 2014 for a piece on the project I was starting at NPS. Elizabeth was aware of the timeline of the project and emailed me while I was on maternity leave for an update. I referred her to NPS who sent her a very vague response which prompted her investigation. While I did not initiate any of this I do want to say thank you to her for unraveling this story. I had no idea what had been happening to my report while I was on leave and had always taken my colleague’s excuses for the delay in publishing at face value. I feel very naive.

I do want to say though that when I spoke to Reveal I believed that my experience was one that was limited to one particular vein of staff in the NPS and DOI. I had no idea how far reaching this has been. When I heard the report and how other colleagues have reacted to the same kinds of pressure I was put under it really made my heart sink. Not only was I disappointed that others didn’t have the courage to stand up to this bullying, but also because many of the people mentioned are permanent federal employees or tenured faculty who have significantly less to lose than I do if they had stood up to this. I’m sure everyone is very fearful at this time but we really do need to show that we intend to uphold the mission of the NPS and that we can not be pushed around. Now is the time for courage.

I have spent the last few weeks on shutdown. When my SLR funding ended in September 2017 I was offered a position through Geocorps to work with some NPS colleagues down the hall from those I had previously worked with. Needless to say, given the level of pressure I was put under I have no desire to work with the NPS Climate Change Response Program again unless significant action is taken to reprimand or remove the people in power who I believe have violated the NPS scientific integrity policy and failed to uphold the NPS mission. It became an incredibly hostile environment.

Unfortunately my Geocorps position has meant that I take a pay cut to approximately 1/3 of what I used to make. Despite this I was prepared to do that because I was working for an organization I loved. The piece in Reveal has, however, made me question whether NPS deserves my loyalty. So I would like to put out a call to anyone reading this that if they would like to contact me regarding other opportunities I am very open to that. I must stay in the Denver area due to family commitments, but I am otherwise open to any and all ideas. I have spent the last couple of days feeling incredibly sad about how things have turned out and mourning all the plans I had for projects to protect our nation’s “best idea,” but I must get back to reality and start looking out for myself.

Some people have emailed me asking whether they could setup a GoFundMe or donate in other ways. That is tremendously kind, but that was not why I spoke out. I spoke out because I am at the end of my tether. I have tried to report these problems to the Office of the Inspector General and the NPS Scientific Integrity Officer and I feel my concerns have been swept under the rug. Elizabeth Shogren’s reporting and evidence she obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shed new light on this and I hope that my complaints will be revisited.

So what can we do going forward? I suggest the following:

  • If you would like to make a donation, please consider making a donation to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund or an environmental fund such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Nature Conservancy, or Natural Resource Defense Fund.

  • Please reach out to your representatives and let them know how concerned you are about this.

  • If you know of any positions (it does not need to be a research position) that might be suitable for me please tweet or email me.

  • If you are a researcher or NPS staff member who has experienced similar pressure to censor your work that you believe violates the NPS mission and/or scientific integrity policy please report it to the OIG and file a scientific integrity complaint. It might seem like a pointless thing to report your experience to these people, but we need to put each incident on the record so we can show this is a wider pattern of behavior. You are also welcome to contact me and I can put you in touch with people who can give you free legal advice.

  • If you are a climate scientist please remember to never back down on your research. This issue is too important. We need people with courage in this fight.

Finally, I’d like to end with a reminder of the NPS mission statement. This was something I always took to heart as I carried out my research. Even if you are just a visitor to the parks I hope this is something you will bear in mind. Our parks are truly special places and there are a lot of people working very hard to protect them for future generations. I hope the Reveal article didn’t change your opinion of them too much. One thing is clear though; once the shutdown is over we have a lot of cleaning up to do both in the parks and beyond.

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Sea Level Hazards Publication

I'm afraid I've had to scale back my communications regarding any future climate change research that I'm conducting, so apologies for not keeping folks up to date. I've been asked when my sea level and storm surge report will be released. I'm afraid I don't have an answer to that question. I finished writing it last October (2016). It went through review and the text was finalized in February 2017. All that was left was to edit the document to make it 508 compliant (so Americans with disabilities could access the text) and get approval from Washington to release it. As far as I know, it is still waiting for approval from Washington for release. 

In the meantime, I'm pleased to announce that the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has released a new report on disaster reduction that includes a section on hazards associated with sea level rise that I wrote. You can find the full report here:

I have also posted just the sea level rise section on my publications page: here.

Hopefully my next update will have more positive news regarding the release of the sea level and storm surge report. We are certainly living in interesting times right now. 

Finding Pollen in Tobacco

I'm a little slow posting here that Tennessee Archaeology has published a new article in which I'm second author. You can access the article by clicking on the image below (or you can access it by clicking on it in my past climate section). This is a project that came up after my colleague, Stephen Carmody, approached me and asked if it was possible to extract pollen from a pipe that had been smoked. It took some experimentation, but I was able to develop a method of extraction that seems to work well. It would be fun to try this technique on other pipes from the west. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about this work or ideas for further applications of this. I realize this work doesn't tell us anything about past climate, but I'm always excited to try to develop new techniques.

A selection of the pipes that we used to see if there was any tobacco pollen in them.

A selection of the pipes that we used to see if there was any tobacco pollen in them.

Pollen at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Hi all,

It isn't very often that I get to break loose from my office or lab to take part in the outreach program that is lead by the National Park Service, but I just wanted to share a few images of me and my colleagues at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We were at the museum yesterday to help them celebrate national fossil day. I brought along my microscope and few pollen slides from Rocky Mountain National Park so I show the kids what some microscopic fossils look like. I have to say that it was a big success! Hopefully I will be able to attend a few more sessions like this in the future. The National Park Service is a fantastic organization to work with, and I'm especially proud that we are starting to introduce the topic of paleoenvironmental research into our outreach activities. Click on the picture below for a link to the full gallery. 

New NPS Sea Level Rise Website

I'm pleased to announce the creation of a new National Park Service website that addresses the impacts of sea level change. The website is a little bare bones at the moment as the final report for my project is still going through review, but watch this space in the coming months for links to the report and our online sea level and storm viewer.

Forthcoming Webinar

Hi everyone, I just wanted to leave a quick note with a link to my forthcoming webinar presentation on sea level rise and storm surge in the National Park System. The webinar is on Thursday October 13 at 2 pm EST/11 am PST. You will need to register in advance to watch it:

I'll be using this opportunity to preview the sea level and storm surge report that is going through review right now, so check it out if you would like a sneak peek of what will be released in 2017.

New NPS Publication

The National Park Service has decided to release a publication co-authored by me (along with Courtney Schupp and Rebecca Beavers) outlining the present as well as potential impact of climate change in the coastal zone. This is especially timely given the current COP21 meeting. The report can be found here: 

New Publications and Blog Mention

Hi folks, it's been a while since I've updated my blog. I have a few pieces of news. While teaching is currently keeping me very busy at the moment, I'm also proud to announce that I have two research articles out this month. The first article I've already mentioned in my blog before, but now Association of American Geographers members are all probably getting copies of my charcoal article in the mail.

I also have an article regarding my Caribbean research coming out today in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Both of my articles are about past changes in climate in the Caribbean region. This is an area that I am hoping to do more work on in the near future. I'm also always happy to hear from other researchers working in the region (so feel free to send me an email or tweet using the contact information in the top right corner of this site).

Finally, my future climate change research was mentioned recently in a guest article/blog post by my good colleague Dr. Rebecca Beavers for the Preservation Leadership Forum Blog. I encourage everyone to check it out, particularly those of you who are interested in how the National Park Service is preparing for climate change in the coastal zone. It's my hope that by studying how the coastal zone has changed in the past we can bridge the gaps in our knowledge to determine how the coastline will respond to climate change in the future.

New Article - Long-Term Fire Trends in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico

I'm pleased to announce that The Professional Geographer has released an article by me and my co-author Sally P. Horn. This is the first article from my Caribbean research. The paper looks at fire records from three sites: Lake Miragoane in Haiti, Laguna Tortuguero in Puerto Rico, and my PhD dissertation site Laguna Saladilla in the Dominican Republic. The article is available at:

Laguna Tortuguero, Puerto Rico, 2006. Photo credit: Maria A. Caffrey.

New Project Brief

The NPS has just released a new project brief regarding my current project for the public. I have attached it below. You may noticed that the number of park units I am working on has increased from 105 to to 118 coastal parks. A full list of the coastal parks involved in this project can be found by clicking on this link.

Guest Lecture At The Denver Foundation


I will be giving a lecture next week (3/17/15) at the Denver Foundation as part of their lecture series on "Colorado's Wild Places and Climate Change." The event begins at noon until 1:30 pm with a Q&A to follow. I will be giving a presentation on my work with the National Park Service. Feel free to come along to hear the latest on my research as well as hear from other academics working on topics relating to sustainability and climate change.

The lecture will be at The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado Building, 1536 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202. More information can be found on the invite below.

Association of American Geographers Meeting 2015

I know it's only November, but I'm looking ahead to the Association of American Geographers 2015 Meeting which will be held in Chicago, IL. As secretary of the paleoenvironmental change (PEC) specialty group, I've been in contact with a number of people regarding group events that will be held during the meeting. Most of my emails have been sent out via the AAG messaging system. However, it has come to my attention that some people might not be getting the emails if they have let their membership lapse or are not subscribed to the PEC group listing. If you are looking for more information about paleo- related events and sessions please check out the PEC website for copies of my announcements: The website also has a section containing the past issues of the PEC newsletter, so you can catch up on the latest goings on in the group.

The deadline for sessions has been extended to November 20th, 2014. I will post information about the student competitions once the abstract submissions deadline has passed. I will be around in most of the paleo sessions as well as presenting on my latest future sea level rise calculations. I hope to see you there. See you in Chicago!