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Marci Robinson

Research Geologist

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Short Biography

Marci is a Research Geologist specializing in planktic and benthic foraminifera and climate change research and is the Project Chief of the Eastern Coastal Plain Studies project. The Eastern Coastal Plain Studies project aims to develop a greater understanding of the geology of the U.S. Atlantic Coastal Plain Province through the development of geologic maps and complementary geochronologic and paleontologic data. Detailed and regional-scale geologic mapping, subsurface investigations, and focused studies of landscape evolution and paleoclimate are combined to address geologic framework problems, paleoclimate reconstructions, and applied water resource issues such as water-resource availability and sustainability. Within this project, Marci's work focuses on Eocene Hyperthermals.

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My Science Topics

Science Topic
Oceans and Coastlinesocean circulation
Atmosphere and Climateglobal change
Atmosphere and Climateclimate change
Oceans and Coastlinesocean temperature
Oceans and Coastlinespaleoceanography
Oceans and Coastlinessea-level change
Earth Characteristicsbathymetry
Earth Characteristicsbiostratigraphy
Earth Characteristicsfossils

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Climate Variability & Change

Eastern Coastal Plain Studies (Eocene Hyperthermals)

Image of Current Focus for Eastern Coastal Plain Studies (Eocene Hyperthermals)

The late Paleocene-early Eocene gradual warming trend that culminated in the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum is punctuated by a series of sudden and extreme global warming events known as hyperthermals. The most intensely studied of the Eocene hyperthermals is the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).  During the PETM, global temperatures rose by ~5°C, ocean acidification was widespread, floral and faunal communities were severely disrupted, and benthic foraminifera suffered a mass extinction in the deep sea due to changing oceanic circulation and a disrupted carbon cycle.  Subsequent successive and progressively less extreme hyperthermals followed.  The Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum is a less abrupt event set in a background of global cooling; the global temperature rise, however, is comparable to that of the PETM.  While more recent warm intervals better represent modern or near future climate, Eocene hyperthermals most closely resemble the current rate of change of atmospheric CO2 and temperature.  It is here that we will find potential analogs in the response of marine ecosystems to abrupt changes in climate. 

Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping

Image of Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping

PRISM is a collaborative data analysis and climate modeling effort that strives to 1) accurately and comprehensively reconstruct and understand Pliocene climate and climate dynamics in order to gain insight into a warmer than present world that may resemble a future climate and to 2) construct Pliocene paleoenvironmental/paleoclimatic boundary conditions as an aid to general circulation model experiments designed to explore the impacts of climate forcings and feedbacks. The Pliocene world provides an unequalled paleo-laboratory to test the sensitivity of the physical models that we rely upon for estimating future warming impacts. It challenges our understanding of the sensitivity of key components of the climate system and how we simulate that system.

Contact Information

Marci Robinson
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr
Reston, VA 20192
703-648-6953 - Fax
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