Faculty and Staff

Michael L Griffiths

Professor • Department of Environmental Science

I am a geochemist and climate scientist whose research involves using geologic records and model simulations to better understand earth system processes. I am principally focused on reconstructing the evolution of Earth’s oceans and climate covering a range of timescales, from the last millennium back to the age of the dinosaurs. Specifically, my research can be divided into two key areas: Area 1 is centered around the use of biogeochemical tracers (“proxies”) in sedimentary archives (e.g., cave deposits, terrestrial and marine fossil teeth, corals) to explore changes in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles and (by extension) evolution of the Earth’s systems. To this end, I am particularly interested in building records of past environmental/ecological change over various time scales, from the last few hundred years to the last ~100 million years, using a diverse array of isotope systems (e.g., δ18O, δ13C, δ15N, δ44Ca, δ66Zn) and elements (Mg, Sr, Ba, P, U, Y, etc.) encoded in these natural archives. Area 2 primarily focuses on utilizing climate model simulations of the past to assess mechanisms, test hypotheses, and thus help to answer fundamental questions in climate science. I am particularly interested in how we can utilize the climate proxy records to better constrain various model parameters (e.g., cloud and convective processes) and outputs (e.g., rainfall, temperature); the underlying motivation for this is to produce more reliable simulations of the past, present, and future.


PhD Physical Geography, THE UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE Newcastle, Australia

BS Geoscience, THE UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG Wollongong, Australia




Representative Publications

End of Green Sahara amplified mid-to late Holocene megadroughts in mainland Southeast Asia; Nature Communications; Volume 11, 2020

East Asian hydroclimate modulated by the position of the westerlies during Termination I; , Science; Volume 362, Issue 6414 2018

Hydroclimate variability in Southeast Asia over the past two millennia ; Nature;

A record of the $\delta$44/40Ca and [Sr] of seawater over the last 100 million years from fossil elasmobranch tooth enamel; Earth and Planetary Science Letters; Volume 543, 2020

Western Pacific hydroclimate linked to global climate variability over the past two millennia; , Nature communications; 2016


Baby Megalodons Were 6-Foot-Long Womb Cannibals, Study Suggests.

Ancient megadrought may explain civilization’s ‘missing millennia’ in Southeast Asia.

End of ‘Green Sahara’ May Have Spurred a Megadrought in Southeast Asia.

Environmental Science Professors Michael Griffiths and Martin Becker Awarded Three-Year, $250,000 Research Grant from the National Science Foundation

Research links ancient Southeast Asia megadrought to drying in Africa.

Fellowships, Grants and Research

“Drought or Deluge? How did Rainfall in the Tropical South Pacific Respond to Sudden Climate Change During the Glacial Period?”

Collaborative Research: Speleothem Constraints on Seasonal Hydroclimate Variability in Mainland Southeast Asia since the Late Pleistocene

Dry or Wet in East Asia During Heinrich Events? New Perspectives from Multiproxy Cave Records and Coupled Model Simulations

Collaborative Research: Biogeochemical fingerprinting of the megatoothed ('megalodon') shark: a dual study in thermophysiological evolution and seawater chemistry

Collaborative: Calibrating South East Asian Proxies: Speleothems and Tree-Rings

Notable Courses Taught

ENV1100: Environmental Sustainability (Summer/Winter 2022/2023)
ENV1150: General Geology (Fall 2012, Spring/Fall 2013-2016, Summer 2013-2020)
ENV2170: Oceanography (Spring 2013-2020)
ENV3170: Global Climate Change (Fall 2013-2021)
ENV3010: Field Experience (Spring/Fall 2012-2019)
ENV3500: Energy and Sustainable Technology (Fall 2021)
ENV3800: Junior Seminar (Spring 2013-2016)
ENV4700: Hydrology and the Environment (Fall 2022)
ENV4800: Senior Practicum (Fall 2012-2016)
ENV4990: Independent Study (Fall 2014, Spring 2018, Spring/Fall 2020)

304 Science West

By appointment