Peter B. de Menocal



As Dean of Science of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, I oversee Columbia’s nine science departments. We’ve launched a new capital campaign initiative - Columbia Science Commits - to advance fundamental science discovery, and to accelerate the knowledge needed to inform solutions in neuroscience, precision medicine, climate, big data, and nanoscience.

I’m the founding director of Columbia’s Center for Climate and Life. We mobilize over 120 scientists to understand how climate impacts life’s essentials -  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.

My research uses 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 currently interested in paleoclimate problems that inform human dimensions of climate change.



Clement, B, et al. A tribute to Mike Storms. Oceanography, 30 (2), 11. (2017).

McGee, D.M. and deMenocal, P.B. The African Humid Period recorded in multi-proxy data: Climatic signatures and cultural consequences. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. (2017) McGee.deMenocal2017.pdf

Tierney, J.E., deMenocal, P.B., Zander, P.D.. A climatic context for the out-of-Africa migration. (2017) Geology. doi:10.1130/G39457.1 Tierney.etal.2017.pdf

Goldsmith, Yonaton, Wallace S Broecker, Hai Xu, Pratigya J Polissar, Peter deMenocal, Naomi Porat, Jianghu Lan, Peng Cheng, Weijian Zhou, and Zhisheng An. 2017. “Reply to Liu Et Al.: East Asian Summer Monsoon Rainfall Dominates Lake Dali Lake Area Changes.” PNAS 114 (15): E2989–90. doi:10.1073/pnas.1616708114. (2017) Goldsmith 2017 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.pdf

Tierney, J.E., Pausata, F.S.R., deMenocal, P.B. Rainfall dynamics of the Green Sahara. Science Advances. Sci. Adv. 2017;3: e1601503. (2017). Tierney et al. 2017.pdf

Ezat, M., Rasmussen, T.L., Hönisch, B., Groeneveld, J., deMenocal, P.B. A 135 kyr record of shallow subsurface pCO2 and nutrient levels from the Norwegian Sea. Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14498. (2017). Ezat et al., 2017.pdf

Karas, C., Nürnberg, D., Tiedemann, R., Bahr, A., Groeneveld, J., Herrle, J.O., deMenocal, P.B. Pliocene oceanic seaways and global climate. Scientific Reports, 10.1038/srep39842  (2017).Karas.etal.2017.pdf

Goldsmith, Y., Broecker, W.S., Xu., H., Polissar, P., deMenocal, P.B., Porat, N., Peng, C., Zhou, W., An, Z. Glacial to Holocene shifts in the East Asian monsoon recorded by paleoshorelines from Dali Lake, China. PNAS, doi/10.1073/pnas.1616708114 (2017). Goldsmith etal.2017.pdf

Williams, R.H., McGee, D., Kinsley, C., Ridley, D.A., Hu, S., Fedorov, A., Tal, I., Murray, R., deMenocal, P.B. Glacial to Holocene changes in trans-Atlantic Saharan dust transport and dust-climate feedbacks. Science Advances, 10.1126/sciadv.1600445 (2016) Williams.etal.2016.pdf

Goldsmith, Y, P J Polissar, A. Ayalon, M. Bar-Matthews, P B deMenocal, and W S Broecker. 2016. “The Modern and Last Glacial Maximum Hydrological Cycles of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant From a Water Isotope Perspective.” (2016) EPSL. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.10.017.Goldsmith.etal.2016.pdf

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

How a small start-up firm wants to revitalize climate change research Washington Post Apr. 9, 2018.

California scientists push to create massive climate-research programme  Nature Aug. 16, 2017

“Just don’t call it climate change” Business Insider. July 2017

Bon Voyage to the Paris Accord MetroFous WNET June 2017.

Climate 101. WNYC Brian Lehrer Show, March 2017.

How wealthy private investors might save climate research FastCompany Jan, 2017

NPR Trump and Climate Science Jan, 2017

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)