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Department of Earth Sciences

Climate Change
Earth-Ocean-Atmosphere Systems


2020-present: Research Associate, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

2018-2020: Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck

2014-2018: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

2016-2018: Lecturer and Acting Tutor, Worcester College


2014: Ph.D., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Thesis title: Geochemistry of karst deposits in Borneo detailing hydroclimate variations in the Warm Pool across the later Pleistocene

Co-advisors: Prof. Kim Cobb (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Prof. Jess Adkins (Caltech)


  • Climate variability over the Yucatán peninsula
  • Climate patterns in the Middle East / West Asia semi-arid regions
  • Tropical Indo-Pacific ocean-atmosphere circulation

My research is focused on reconstructing past rainfall and temperatures change, information I use to characterise and investigate the cuases of pre-industrial climate variability. I analyse chemical signatures recorded in speleothems (calcium carbonate structures precipitated in caves), which act as climate and environment proxies, to reconstruct how rainfall and temperature varied in the past on different spatial and temporal scales. The age model of the speleothem records is built using radiogenic uranium and thorium isotopes present in the speleothem layers.

I am interested in investigating earth’s pre-industrial era climate variability, the magnitude and speed of change that the natural system is capable of, and how past historic and pre-historic civilizations dealt with these changes. Specifically, I develop annually resolved proxy records of environmental change in order to quantify the intensity and frequency of droughts in Mesopotamia (Neolithic to Iron Age) and Mesoamerica (Classic and Postclassic periods). I also develop centennial-scale proxy records of past continental climate spanning the past 500,000 years in order to investigate key internal and external “forcings” (or triggers) of terrestrial environmental change on a global scale, such as changes in solar radiation strength, atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, land ice volume, sea ice extent, ocean circulation changes, volcanic events, etc. I collaborate with atmospheric scientists and climate modellers to transform individual "observation" data points created from proxy records into a theoretical understanding of changes in the large-scale climate system.


Key publications: 



Fazeli Nashli, H., Sarlak, S., Hoseinzadeh, J., Yazdani, S., RafieiAlavi, B., Carolin, S.A., 2022. The North and South Central Plateau of Iran During the Third and Second Millennium BCE 3200-1500 BCE). باستان شناسی 14.

Soleimani, M., Nadimi, A., Koltai, G., Dublyansky, Y., Carolin, S., Spötl, C., 2022. Stalagmite evidence of Last Glacial Maximum to early Holocene climate variability in southwestern Iran. J Quaternary Science jqs.3478.

Løland, M.H., Krüger, Y., Fernandez, A., Buckingham, F., Carolin, S.A., Sodemann, H., Adkins, J.F., Cobb, K.M., Meckler, A.N., (2022). Evolution of tropical land temperature across the last glacial termination. Nat Commun 13, 5158.

Kennett, D.J., Masson, M., Lope, C.P. et al. (2022). Drought-Induced Civil Conflict Among the Ancient Maya. Nat Commun 13, 3911. 

Buckingham, F.L., Carolin, S.A., Partin, J.W., Adkins, J.F., Cobb, K.M., Day, C.C., et al. (2022). Termination 1 Millennial‐Scale Rainfall Events Over the Sunda Shelf. Geophysical Research Letters, 49(5).


Walker, R. T., Bezmenov, Y., Begenjev, G., Carolin, S., Dodds, N., Gruetzner, C., et al. (2021). Slip-rate on the Main Köpetdag (Kopeh Dagh) strike-slip fault, Turkmenistan, and the active tectonics of the South Caspian. Tectonics, 40, e2021TC006846.


Andrews, J.E., Carolin, S.A., Peckover, E.N., Marca, A., Al-Omari, S., Rowe, P.J., 2020. Holocene stable isotope record of insolation and rapid climate change in a stalagmite from the Zagros of Iran. Quaternary Science Reviews 241, 106433.


Carolin, S.A., Ersek, V., Roberts, W.H.G., Walker, R.T., Henderson, G.M., 2019. Drying in the Middle East During Northern Hemisphere Cold Events of the Early Glacial Period. Geophysical Research Letters 46, 14003–14010.

Campbell, G.E., Walker, R.T., Abdrakhmatov, K., Carolin, S., Carr, A.S., Elliott, J.R., Jackson, J., Mackenzie, D., Rizza, M., Rodes, A., 2019. Rapid Late Quaternary Slip, Repeated Prehistoric Earthquake Rupture, and Widespread Landsliding Associated With the Karakudzhur Thrust, Central Kyrgyz Tien Shan. Tectonics 38, 3740–3764.

Comas-Bru, L., Harrison, S.P., Werner, M., Rehfeld, K., Scroxton, N., Veiga-Pires, C., SISAL working group members, 2019. Evaluating model outputs using integrated global speleothem records of climate change since the last glacial. Climate of the Past 15, 1557–1579.

Carolin, S.A., Walker, R.T., Day, C.C., Ersek, V., Sloan, R.A., Dee, M.W., Talebian, M., Henderson, G.M., 2019. Reply to Jaffe et al.: Paleoscience precision in an archeological or historical context. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116, 4757–4757.

Carolin, S.A., Walker, R.T., Day, C.C., Ersek, V., Sloan, R.A., Dee, M.W., Talebian, M., Henderson, G.M., 2019. Precise timing of abrupt increase in dust activity in the Middle East coincident with 4.2 ka social change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116, 67–72.


Atsawawaranunt, K., Comas-Bru, L., Amirnezhad Mozhdehi, S., Deininger, M., Harrison, S.P., Baker, A., Boyd, M., Kaushal, N., Ahmad, S.M., Ait Brahim, Y., Arienzo, M., Bajo, P., Braun, K., Burstyn, Y., Chawchai, S., Duan, W., Hatvani, I.G., Hu, J., Kern, Z., Labuhn, I., Lachniet, M., Lechleitner, F.A., Lorrey, A., Pérez-Mejías, C., Pickering, R., Scroxton, N., SISAL Working Group Members, 2018. The SISAL database: a global resource to document oxygen and carbon isotope records from speleothems. Earth System Science Data 10, 1687–1713.


Carolin, S.A., Cobb, K.M., Lynch-Stieglitz, J., Moerman, J.W., Partin, J.W., Lejau, S., Malang, J., Clark, B., Tuen, A.A., Adkins, J.F., 2016. Northern Borneo stalagmite records reveal West Pacific hydroclimate across MIS 5 and 6. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 439, 182–193.


Meckler, A.N., Affolter, S., Dublyansky, Y.V., Krüger, Y., Vogel, N., Bernasconi, S.M., Frenz, M., Kipfer, R., Leuenberger, M., Spötl, C., Carolin, S., Cobb, K.M., Moerman, J., Adkins, J.F., Fleitmann, D., 2015. Glacial–interglacial temperature change in the tropical West Pacific: A comparison of stalagmite-based paleo-thermometers. Quaternary Science Reviews 127, 90–116.


Moerman, J.W., Cobb, K.M., Partin, J.W., Meckler, A.N., Carolin, S.A., Adkins, J.F., Lejau, S., Malang, J., Clark, B., Tuen, A.A., 2014. Transformation of ENSO-related rainwater to dripwater δ 18 O variability by vadose water mixing: ENSO variability in dripwater d18O. Geophysical Research Letters 41, 7907–7915.


Carolin, S.A., Cobb, K.M., Adkins, J.F., Clark, B., Conroy, J.L., Lejau, S., Malang, J., Tuen, A.A., 2013. Varied Response of Western Pacific Hydrology to Climate Forcings over the Last Glacial Period. Science 340, 1564–1566.





Teaching and Supervisions


University of Cambridge (2021-present): Guest seminar speaker for Part II Climate, demonstrator for Part II Climate practicals

University of Oxford (2014-2018): Co-lecturer for Climate (3rd years) and Mathematical Tools for Earth Sciences (2nd years); Demonstrator for Isotope geochemistry practicals (2nd years)

Oxford College Tutorials (2014-2018): Vector Calculus (3rd years), Climate (3rd years), Maths for Earth Sciences (1st years), Introductory Geology (1st years)

Research supervision: 

2021-2022: Imogen Shaw, Part III Project (University of Cambridge), Southern Iran climate variations during the 1st millennium BCE

2021-present: PhD student Mansoorah Sani Josheghani (University of Innsbruck), Paleoclimate reconstructions in Iran over the Holocene (co-advisor)

2018-present: PhD student Mojgan Soleymani (University of Innsbruck), Paleoclimate reconstructions in Iran over the last glacial and deglaciation (co-advisor)

2018-2022: DTP student Christopher Theaker (University of Oxford), Holocene ENSO reconstructions from a Borneo stalagmite (co-advisor)

2016-2017: Frances Buckingham, Masters thesis (University of Oxford), "Investigating the Younger Dryas event in the Tropical West Pacific using multiple stalagmites" 

2016-2017: Annabel Wood, Masters thesis (University of Oxford), "Using speleothems to inform the palaeoclimate in and around Zubya Cave, Jordan"  (co-advisor)

2015-2016: Jacob Morgan, Masters thesis (University of Oxford), "Penultimate deglaciation captured in stable isotope and trace element records from a semi-arid Western Asia stalagmite"

Research Associate

Contact Details


Person keywords: 
palaeoclimate reconstructions
Water stable isotopes
Stable isotopes