Peter B. de Menocal



I’m the founding director of Columbia’s new Center for Climate and Life. We mobilize over 100 scientists to understand how climate impacts the security of food, water, and shelter, and to explore sustainable energy solutions. We partner with industry, finance, and governments, transferring knowledge to build a more resilient, sustainable world.

I use deep-sea sediments as archives of past climate change. Ocean sediments accumulate slowly but continuously and provide records of past changes in Earth climate and ocean circulation over a wide range of timescales, from centuries to millions of years. I’m interested in paleoclimate problems that address climate-human interactions, and sustainability.



deMenocal, P.B. and Stringer, C. Climate and the peopling of the world. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature19471 deMenocal.Stringer.2016.pdf

Uno, K T, P J Polissar, Kahle, E., Feibel, C., Harmand, S., Roche, H., deMenocal, P.B, 2016. “Neogene Biomarker Record of Vegetation Change in Eastern Africa.” 2016. Proc. Trans. Royal Society, 371: 20150235. Uno.etal.2016b.pdf

Rose, C., Polissar, P.J., Tierney, J.E., deMenocal, P.B., 2016. Changes in northeast African hydrology and vegetation associated with Pliocene– Pleistocene sapropel cycles. Proc. Trans. Royal Society, 371: 20150243. Rose.etal.2016.pdf

Uno, Kevin T, Pratigya J Polissar, Kevin E Jackson, and Peter B deMenocal. 2016. “Neogene Biomarker Record of Vegetation Change in Eastern Africa.” PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1521267113. Uno.etal.2016.pdf

deMenocal, P. B. Palaeoclimate: End of the African Humid Period. Nature Geoscience (2015). doi:10.1038/ngeo2329 deMenocal.2015.pdf

Tierney, J.A., Pausata, F.S.R., deMenocal, P.B. Deglacial Indian monsoon failure and North Atlantic stadials linked by Indian Ocean surface cooling Nature Geoscience (2015) DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2603 Tierney.etal.2015c.pdf

Tierney, J.A., Ummenhofer, C.C., deMenocal, P.B. Past and Future rainfall in the Horn of Africa. Science Advances.(2015)  DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500682  Tierney.etal.2015b.pdf

Dean of Science

Thomas Alva Edison/Con Ed Professor Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory


In the news:

HuffPo Science “Talk Nerdy to Me” May, 2016

SciTechNow (PBS) What is the Climate Innovation Gap? April 26, 2016

Talks@Columbia Why does climate matter? April 29, 2016

$1.5M Climate & Life science funding from the World Surf League (vid)

Nature OpEd Center for Climate and Life ,Feb. 2, 2016

Nature news: Center for Climate and Life, Feb. 1, 2016

Columbia launches new Center for Climate and Life!

Columbia Record Nov. 18, 2015

“Climate Change, Ahoy!” B. Palmer. OnEarth Magazine. 14 Oct., 2015.

“Ocean sediments suggest dry future for Horn of Africa”, H. Hoag, Nature News 2015

“Fixing the Climate Innovation Gap”, HuffPo (May 2, 2015)

How Somali Pirates Almost (but Not Quite) Halted Vital Climate Change Research, The Atlantic (Oct. 16, 2013)

Braving African piracy reveals abrupt rainfall shifts, Simple Climate (Oct. 18, 2013).