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Climate Change Institute


Browse and learn more about the several active laboratories at CCI.

Analog Modeling Laboratory

Peter Koons

The Analog Modeling Lab in the Department of Earth Sciences has been designed as a resource for teaching and research. Analog modeling can give us qualitative and quantitative insights into boundary conditions and material behavior. The experiments allow us to investigate the individual effects of different parameters or geological processes. Analog materials are weak enough to deform rapidly under laboratory conditions and they have rheologies which are scalable to Earth systems. Several analog materials and model approaches exist. Brittle behavior in rocks is modeled by granular materials (such as sand), which deforms in a way described by a pressure-dependent, elastic-plastic constitutive relationship. The viscous behavior of rocks is simulated by viscous materials such as silicone putty, honey and glucose syrup. The rheology of these materials is commonly temperature dependent and can be described by a power law constitutive relationship. Plastic material, such as plasticine and wax are also used to model rock deformation.

Cold Storage and Continuous Melter System Laboratory

Andrei Kurbatov

CCI has one dedicated -20ºC ice core processing freezer equipped with clean room enclosure for clean sample preparation. Ice and snow sampling equipment including: electromechanical and manual ice drills, specialized sampling tools, and specialized processing tools (lathes, scrapers and continuous melting systems).

We maintain -20ºC temperature in the long term ice storage unit section of the freezer. The ice core continuous melter system is equipped with advanced depth encoding and software control for accurate parcel tracking during ice core sampling.


Computer Science Laboratories

Sudarshan Chawathe

 The Computer Science research activities span many fields and departments, both on and off campus. Current research collaborations on campus include the Chemistry, Earth Sciences, and Electrical & Computer Engineering departments, and the Climate Change Institute.

Research activities are organized around the following laboratories. Please consult the labs' Web sites for additional information.

  • Artificial Intelligence: multiagent systems, intelligent agent control, interagent communication, and computational ecology. Lab Web site.
  • Cybersecurity and Homeland Security. Lab Web site.
  • Databases: autonomous and semistructured databases. Lab Web site.
  • High-Performance Computing
  • Software Engineering: computational modeling, learning tools and environments for K-12. Lab Web site.
    • Neville 106 (cluster lab). Approximately 20 workstations booting Windows.
    • Neville 118 (cluster lab). Approximately 6 workstations dual-booting GNU/Linux and Windows and 10 with just Windows.
    • Neville 231 (meeting/presentation space). Dual projectors and screens; surround sound; computer and AV equipment to drive these; whiteboards. Reconfigurable seating.
    • Neville 120 (meeting/presentation space). Dual projectors and screens; dual flat-screen displays; Polycom videoconferencing hardware; surround sound; computer and AV equipment to drive these; whiteboards. Reconfigurable seating.
    • East Annex (multiple research labs).

Diatom Ecology Laboratory

Jasmine Saros

The Diatom Ecology Laboratory focuses on reconstructing environmental change through the use of freshwater diatom fossil records. Experimental and observational studies of modern lake ecology are integrated with paleolimnological records to understand ecosystem change. Facilities include inverted and compound microscopes with imaging capabilities, as well as growth chambers for culturing diatoms. Research primarily focuses on ecosystem change over time scales ranging from the last decade to the last 2,000 years.

Forensic Anthropology Laboratory

Marcella Sorg

The Forensic Anthropology Laboratory is the center for conducting research on human osteology, bioarchaeology, forensics, and taphonomy. The lab is also the focal point for training undergraduate and graduate students in the major methods and techniques used in forensics. Research and training is designed to prepare students in the analysis human remains in forensic, modern, and prehistoric situations with a particular eye toward taphonomic assessment. The forensic laboratory contains an extensive comparative human skeletal collection representing individuals from fetal to older adult as well as males and females. The lab is currently being developed and will be equipped with the necessary tools with which to conduct modern forensic analyses.

Glacial Geology and Geochronology Laboratory

Brenda Hall

Core analysis, mineral separation, radiocarbon sample preparation, diatom analysis

Ice Core Microparticle and Tephrochronology Laboratory

Andrei Kurbatov

The sample preparation section of the lab is enclosed inside of a class 100 room. The lab is equipped with a Centrific Model 228 centrifuge, microscope slide preparation equipment, petrographic Olympus BX-40 microscope, Nikon SMZ-800 zoom stereomicroscope, SPOT Insight 11.2 Color Mosaic digital camera operated with SPOT, Image-Pro plus, ImageJ, Matlab Image Processing Toolbox software.  Custom made sample preparation equipment is designed using open source OpenSCAD, 3D printing Slic3r and Cura packages.  Sensors and equipment are controlled by open source Arduino and Raspberry Pi microcontrollers and computers.

Laboratory members collaborate with the School of Earth and Climate Sciences (SECS), University of Maine Electron beam facility, managed by Dr. Martin Yates, who has 25+ years of experience with electron microscopy and Dr. Christopher Gerbi.

SECS electron beam laboratory comprises two major platforms – an electron microprobe and a scanning electron microscope – plus all necessary preparation equipment.

The custom designed electron microprobe laboratory houses a fully automated Cameca SX-100 electron microprobe equipped with 4 dual, large-area crystal spectrometers, a 4-crystal light element spectrometer, and a Rontec energy dispersive spectrometer. The SX-100 is capable of stage-scan and beam-scan, backscattered electron, secondary electron, and cathodoluminescence images and can simultaneously capture up to 13 x-ray compositional channels. The system is specially equipped with a dry high vacuum system and an anticontamination gas-stream/cold plate system necessary for long-duration minor element determinations. The system is operated with Cameca PC-based automation and data reduction software using PAP matrix corrections.

The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a Tescan Vega-II XMU variable pressure instrument with a tungsten filament, 5-axis compucentric stage, resolution better than 5 nm, and secondary and backscattered electron detectors appropriate for the different vacuum conditions.  Coupled to the electron microscope is an EDAX Pegasus integrated energy-dispersive spectrometry (EDS) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) system, as well as Gatan ChromaCL full color and Tescan panchromatic cathodoluminescence (CL) imaging systems.  EDS hardware includes a 40mm2 silicon drift detector and a tilting SEM interface, allowing analysis at a range of working distances.  EDS software allows mapping, standardless or standardized point chemistry analysis, feature mapping and characterization, and automated phase identification.  EBSD hardware includes the Digiview IV camera with forward scatter detector.  EBSD software includes acquisition, indexing, and post-processing components.  Post-processing software produces orientation maps and pole figures, among other output, of the full data set and subsets. The SEM has a Peltier-cooled stage with a transfer module that carries snow and ice samples from the preparation room and mounts on the cooling stage with no contact with ambient air.  When the SEM is at vacuum, the transfer module opens for analysis.

Ice Sheet Modeling Laboratory

James Fastook

James Fastook designed and maintains the University of Maine Ice Sheet Model (UMISM). UMISM participated in the EISMINT experiments for model intercomparison and is recognized as an important tool for study of both current and paleo ice sheets. Current problems include: reconstructing Northern Hemisphere ice sheets over North America, Europe, and Asia; addressing the changing volume of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in response to recent climate change; investigations of rock glacier behavior in the Dry Valleys; and most recently, simulations of Martian glaciers and ice sheets. UMISM consists of a time-dependent finite-element solution of the coupled mass, momentum, and energy conservation equations. The model works in the map-plane, with the primary input consisting of the present bedrock topography, the surface mean annual temperature, the geothermal heat flux, and the net mass balance, all defined as a functions of position. The solution consists of ice thicknesses, surface elevations, column-integrated ice velocities, the temperature field within the ice sheet, the amount of water at the bed resulting from basal melting, and the amount of bed depression resulting from the ice load. A complete suite of tools for accessing digital maps (DEMS) for input to the model, as well as post-processing tools for analysis, presentation graphics, and animations are also maintained.

ICP-MS Laboratory

Michael Handley

ICP-MS Laboratory was set up through a grant from the NSF Major Research Instrumentation program.  The ICP-MS laboratory provides elemental and isotopic analysis capabilities to researchers within and outside the University of Maine.  The laboratory is equipped with a Thermo ELEMENT2 high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, and associated peripherals for sample introduction.  The primary focus of the laboratory is the determination of ultra-trace levels of elements in ice cores.  The laboratory has also supported projects involving the analysis of plant and biological tissue, sediments, ground water, and seawater.

Ion Chromatography and Glaciochemistry Laboratory

Sharon Sneed

The Ion Chromotography/Glaciochemistry Lab specializes in analyzing ice core and snow samples at the parts-per-billion level for all major cations and anions. Housed in the Sawyer Environmental Research Center, the IC Lab is primarily a facility of the Climate Change Institute, and serves the research needs of the Institute faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students. The primary equipment comprises Dionex DX-500 chromatographs fitted with suppressed conductivity detectors and Gilson Autosamplers.

Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory

Brenda Hall

Clean room for geochemistry, including cosmogenic and U/Th sample preparation

W.M. Keck Laser Ice Facility

Sharon Sneed


The new Keck Laser Ice Facility combines trace element analysis of ice cores using an Thermo Element 2 ICP-MS with a New Wave laser ablation sample introduction system yielding greatly enhanced sample resolution, laboratory efficiency, and examination of even more exotic chemical signatures. Sample resolution using traditional core processing techniques is limited to approximately 1 cm.  It is now 10 micrometers allowing the potential for the first time to sample individual storm events and recovery of sub-annual signals from regions with very low accumulation rates such as interior Antarctica, in highly compressed ice at great depths, and in regions of ascending flow (blue-ice exposures) in Antarctica and Greenland. Results determined by LA-ICP-MS are in good agreement with previously determined concentrations measured by ion chromatography. 

Marine Sediments Laboratory

Daniel Belknap and Joseph Kelley

Core sectioning and subsampling; photography; sediment analyses (settling tube, sieves, X-ray Sedigraph, pipetting); binocular microscopy; centrifuging, weighing, drying, loss on ignition, carbonates

Near Surface Geophysics

Daniel Belknap. Joseph Kelley, and Alice Kelley

Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR); Total Station surveying; autolevel; GPS navigation; multibeam bathymetry with 6 m catamaran boat for shallow bays and lakes.

Northeastern Prehistory Laboratory

Dept of Anthropology -- Tel. Contact: 581-1894

The Northeastern Prehistory Lab in South Stevens Hall is the center of research and analysis of archaeological remains from prehistoric Maine and the Maritimes. Research on materials excavated more recently are compared with remains recovered in the past to develop broad-based ideas on the prehistory of Maine and the Northeast, and how these people lived and interacted with each other and with surrounding groups. The lab is one of three Federal Repositories of Archaeological material in Maine, and contains extensive collections developed by a number of researchers for over four decades.

Numerical Laboratory

Peter Koons

Our research group applies continuum mechanics to understanding the interaction of the earth and atmosphere at many different time scales. We link individuals with research interests ranging from short term climatic variation to mantle:crust interaction. We have been investigating the influence of atmospheric processes on the development of mountain ranges from the scales of the entire mountain range to that of single large river catchments like that of the Indus or the Tsangpo. We employ geodetic, seismic, geomorphic, and petrological techniques to develop an integrated image of a developing mountain system. To produce some understanding of the behavior of the deeper parts of the earth, often not exposed during the active phase of mountain building, we work closely with petrologists and structural geologists looking at the exposed roots of the mountains. The image assembled from these observations then provides many of the constraints for constructing a comprehensive numerical model that allows us to examine the dynamics of the mountain building processes across many scales.  The Numerical Laboratory is a computational cluster for 3D thermomechanical, dynamic modeling and visualization of silicate earth, atmosphere and glacier interaction.

Paleoecology Laboratories

Jacquelyn Gill, Andrea Nurse

The Paleoecology laboratory facilities provide support for research about the ecological prehistory of terrestrial and aquatic environments. We support work in lake, peat and bog records, cave deposits, asphaltic sediments, and archaeological sites to reconstruct past climates, paleovegetation, fire, vertebrate animals, and human impacts. Our proxy-based research involves fossil pollen and spores, plant and animal macrofossils, phytoliths, diatoms, chironimids, and charcoal, with further capability to prepare specimens for radiocarbon, geochemical, or isotope analyses. Laboratory facilities include 1) the Fossil and Sediment lab, for sediment description and preparation, charcoal analysis, and fossil identification and preparation (including muffle furnace, drying oven, bench space, stereomicroscopes, and a sink with sediment trap), 2) a Palynology Chemistry lab for chemical isolation of fossil pollen (including a fume hood rated for HF, centrifuge, and basic wet chemistry lab equipment), and 3) a Microscopy Lab with new compound and stereomicroscopes with camera attachments, and extensive pollen and plant macrofossil reference collections. We also have equipment for piston- and Russian-based sediment coring from ice, water, or terrestrial environments, and extensive walk-in cold storage. 

We conduct research around the world, with ongoing projects in New England, the Falkland Islands, the La Brea tar pits, Wind Cave National Park, Jamaica, the Midwestern United States, the Arctic, and Peru. 

Remote Sensing Laboratory

Ellyn Enderlin

The Remote Sensing Laboratory supports a range of geospatial research projects in the Institute. A dedicated Unix cluster is available for advanced image processing and GIS applications. Ten dual-frequency GPS receivers offer the capability for geodetic positioning in the field. On-campus users interested in using RSL resources should contact Gordon Hamilton.

South American Archaeology Laboratory

Dan Sandweiss

The South American Archaeology Lab in South Stevens Hall constitutes the primary work space for a growing team of researchers investigating the quaternary and human prehistory of South America. The lab contains two computers (Mac and PC), Geographic Information System software, flatbed photo and slide scanners, a printer, two microscopes, an extensive library of archaeological and quaternary science books and journals, and an archive of South American maps and air photos. The lab also houses a robust malacological reference collection and selected archaeological materials from UMaine excavations on loan from Peru. Aside from regular research functions, the lab is used for the preparation of archaeological materials for rock provenance studies, prehistoric artifact analyses, and archival preparation.

Stable Isotope Laboratory

Karl Kreutz

The Stable Isotope Lab specializes in the measurement and interpretation of the light stable isotopic ratios of environmentally relevant elements (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur). Housed in the Sawyer Environmental Research Center, the SIL is primarily a facility of the Climate Change Institute, and serves the research needs of the Institute faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students. SIL staff actively collaborate with researchers within and outside the University of Maine, principally those interested in climate and hydrological dynamics, paleoclimate, environmental geochemistry, and modern/paleocological studies. Currently, the SIL operates three gas-source mass spectrometers with various peripheral devices for the analysis of inorganic and organic materials, and includes facilities for fieldwork staging, sample preparation, data reduction, and data analysis. Research opportunities are available in several globally distributed projects related to isotope geochemistry, and interested students are encouraged to contact us.

Zooarchaeology Laboratory

Dept of Anthropology -- Tel. Contact: 581-1894

The zooarchaeology laboratory is the center for training undergraduate and graduate students in the major methods and techniques used in archaeological faunal analysis. Research and training is designed to prepare students in the analysis of animal remains associated with archaeological sites, and from these analyses infer behavioral patterns of the inhabitants, understand their adaptations to the environments in which they lived, and reconstruct past environments. The zooarchaeology laboratory contains an extensive modern comparative skeletal collection of Northeastern and Southwestern fauna. The lab is equipped with the necessary tools with which to conduct faunal research, including a fume hood, Nikon microscopes, computers and space for analysis and storage.


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Orono, ME 04469-5790 • Tel: 207-581-2190 • Fax: 207-581-1203
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