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Atmospheric science

Hinnov Coordinates New Multi-University Collaboration on History of Earth-Moon Parameters and Solar System Fundamental Frequencies

Linda Hinnov, Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, is coordinating a new three-year, $4.4 million project funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation called the CycloAstro Project that will integrate science from paleoclimatology, geophysics, and astronomy together with collaborators at University of Wisconsin, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Yale University, UC Santa Barbara and University of Hawaii, and an educational/early career program called the CycloCohort Program at Mason led by Dr. Rocio Caballero-Gill (AOES; Award 223874), to study the evolution of the Solar System, Earth-Moon dynamics, and the Earth's paleoclimate system. 

The main themes of inquiry of the CycloAstro Project include: 

  • Secular evolution of planetary fundamental frequencies  
  • Earth's rotation history and Earth-Moon dynamics 
  • Chaotic dynamics and long-term stability of the Solar System 
  • Paleoclimate responses to astronomical-geophysical-radiative balance forcing 
  • Improvements and extensions to cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology 

The research seeks to show how it is possible to acquire fundamental new empirical knowledge of Solar System dynamics and Earth system sensitivity from the sedimentary record that will allow tests of astronomical models and overcome a 50-million-year-before-present (Ma) limit of predictability imposed by chaos. The only empirical basis documenting the past actual behavior of the Solar and Earth-Moon systems lies in the geological record on Earth. In the CycloAstro Project Hinnov will conduct research on the following: "Leveraging the Geologic Record to Constrain Solar System Evolution, Earth-Moon Dynamics, Paleoclimate Change, and Geological Time, Project 1: Earth-Moon parameters and Solar System fundamental frequencies, Precambrian to present." 

The CycloAstro Project will run concurrently with and benefit from a recently initiated sister project in Paris, France, The AstroGeo Project, which seeks to develop a set of searchable astronomical solutions for pre-50 million-year-old geological data calibration. CycloAstro differs fundamentally from AstroGeo in obtaining new highly resolved and ground-truthed data, its strategy in employing data to constrain astronomical solutions, utilizing advanced statistical techniques for correlation and uncertainty quantification, and involving experts from diverse fields crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries for an unprecedented integrated investigation of the aforementioned science themes.   

Hinnov received $457,180 from the Heising-Simons Foundation for her role in the CycloAstro Project. Funding began June 1, 2021 and will end May 31, 2024. The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people.