Geologist Gregory Springer is currently one of the only people in the field using cave research to better explain the effect of humans on landscape and climate.
"Caves can preserve records that normally wouldn't survive on top of the ground so rain washes those records away. Caves have roofs," said Springer.
Springer's interest in caves dates back to his teen years, when he would explore the underground caverns near his Paden City, West Virginia home with his father.
Springer says researchers have found a link between solar activity and droughts in southeastern West Virginia.
"We found that during cold phases when the sun's not putting out as much radiation, that you typically have droughts in the southeast and West Virginia," said Springer.
Springer and his colleagues have published the most detailed geological record to date on climate cycles in eastern North America during the past 7,000 years.
He says exploring uncharted territory is one of the most rewarding aspects of his research.