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DRI's Ben Hatchett wins Nature Geostory competition

Benjamin Hatchett stands next to one of the relict Jeffrey Pine stumps that grew in the West Walker River channel during the Medieval era. These stumps provide an indicator of the magnitude and duration of past droughts. Photo by B. Hatchett.

Reno, NV (June 6, 2018): Benjamin Hatchett, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, has been selected as one of ten winners of the “Geostory” competition in the journal Nature Geoscience

In celebration of the journal’s tenth anniversary, early-career researchers were asked to share a story about an influential geoscience-related research paper that inspired their thinking and their work. 

For Hatchett, whose graduate research focused on ancient megadroughts of the Walker Lake Basin, the pivotal paper was Wallace Broecker’s Long-Term Water Prospects in the Western United States (2010). In this paper, Broecker used closed-basin lake systems of the Great Basin to estimate the magnitude of past climate changes and provide analogs for future climate. Concepts introduced in this paper helped Hatchett make connections between local-scale hydrologic data and global-scale climate patterns in the Walker Lake Basin.

“Broecker’s paper inspired me to link the estimated changes in runoff under past, present, and future conditions to plausible circulation changes,” explained Hatchett. “It also taught me to perpetually strive for a global hydroclimate perspective.”

Hatchett, who works as a Postdoctoral Fellow of Mesoscale Meteorology with DRI’s Division of Atmospheric Sciences, earned a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2016. His research and teaching interests include paleoclimate, climate dynamics, numerical modeling, and extreme weather.

Hatchett’s 500-word “Geostory” titled Fingerprints of the thermal equator appears in the recently released June issue of Nature Geoscience, along with a photograph.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected as one of the winners of the "Geostory" competition, and to have the chance to share the research that has influenced me in my career,” Hatchett said.

060818 Hatchett4Relict Jeffrey pine tree stumps of medieval age found in the present-day West Walker River. Credit: B.Hatchett.