Mike Retelle has taught courses that focus on Earth surface environments and records of environmental change. His courses included Earth Surface Processes (Geo 103), Sedimentology (Geo 210), and Quaternary Paleoclimatology (Geology 310). Mike also taught a field-based short term unit: Limnology and Paleolimnology of Lakes of Northern New England.
Currently Mike is involved in several research projects in the high latitude North Atlantic region. He began his arctic research as a graduate student working in the Canadian arctic focusing on glacial and sea level history and high resolution records of climate change preserved in annually layered lake sediments.
Mike has been working in Svalbard, Norwegian high arctic since 2005. He co-led a summer research program for undergraduates, the Svalbard REU Project, sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Arctic Natural Sciences program. This project involved the study of modern processes in a high arctic glacial-fluvial-lacustrine system and the investigation of longer term and high resolution climate change reconstructed from lake sediments. This program is now a summer research course in the Arctic Geology Department at UNIS, the Norwegian University Centre in Svalbard, in which Mike is the lead instructor.
Mike and students have worked on a collaborative project in Finnmark, northern Norway since 2014 with colleagues and students from Iowa State University, Norway and the Netherlands in a study of present and past marine climate recorded in the annual growth patterns of the long-lived bivalve Arctica islandica. At study sites on Ingøya and Rolvsøya , two islands in northernmost coastal Norway, extensive collections of shells are found ranging in age from mid-Holocene (ca 6,000 B.P.) to modern. Cross-dated series of growth increments and interannual sampling of growth bands and isotopic analysis provides high resolution, i.e. seasonal, reconstructed near surface marine temperatures for this area of the North Atlantic and Barents Sea.
Mike has also worked with colleagues and students in the Shetland Islands with Bates Professors Gerald Bigelow (archaeologist in the History Department), Will Ambrose (Biology), Beverly Johnson (Geology) and Michael Jones (History) on the Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project. His role is to recover and analyze lake sediment records that preserve records of environmental change during the period of occupation of the archaeology sites (Late Holocene-age sites span Norse to 16th century occupation).
Closer to home Mike works with Bates Geology students in a beach monitoring program on the coast in Central Maine on the beaches of the Phippsburg Peninsula. Mike’s summer coastal interns work out of the Bates Shortridge Coastal Center. The research focuses on topographic profile surveys on beaches including Popham Beach State Park, Seawall Beach at the Bates Morse Mountain Reserve, and pocket beaches on Cape Small.