My C.V. (updated Dec 2019)

My research is focused on understanding past climate by using stalagmite proxies to reconstruct past variability and employing model experiment results to investigate system forcing and response scenarios. Current interests include  temperature changes in the past in the Indian-Asian monsoon region through stalagmite fluid inclusion analyses, tropical Indo-Pacific rainfall variability on glacial-interglacial timescales, past climate changes of the semi-arid Near East and its effect on ancient civilizations, and the use of stalagmites to trace past volcanic activity. I am based at the University of Innsbruck, Institute of Geology, member of the Quaternary Research Group. I am currently co-advising Oxford DTP student Chris Theaker, and have an ongoing water isotope monitoring project in Iran in collaboration with Prof. Richard Walker.

Current Research Projects:

Improving interpretation of monsoon region stable isotope records

Austrian Academy of Sciences (2018-2020)

collaborators: Christoph Spötl and Yuri Dublyansky (Innsbruck)


Climatic, environmental and tectonic influences on prehistoric human development in Iran

Leverhulme Research Grant, £176,559 (2014-2018)

collaborators: Richard Walker (Oxford), Gideon Henderson (Oxford), Chris Day (Oxford), Lica Ersek (Northumbria), Julian Andrews (UEA), Peter Rowe (UEA), Michael Dee (Archeology, Oxford), Morteza Talebian (Geological Survey of Iran), Morteza Fatthi (University of Tehran)

Currently, there is little paleoclimate proxy data in Western Asia to extend climate records beyond the limits of the instrumental period, leaving scant evidence to investigate the system’s response to various climate forcings on different timescales. Cave speleothems have proven to be remarkable climate recorders in semi-arid regions. Decorated caves span a large portion of the arid and semi-arid regions of Iran, providing an opportunity to investigate speleothems as potential Iranian climate recorders. This work aims to provide a precise chronology of climatic change in east and west Iran during the late Quaternary and provide a framework to inform climate models, landscape evolution, and societal/archaeological studies.

Rainwater and drip water isotope monitoring in Iran

Oxford University John Fell Fund, £7500 (2015-2019)
Geological Society of London Research Grant, £1009 (2015)

collaborators: Morteza Talebian (Geological Survey of Iran), Richard Walker (Oxford)

The objective of this project is to determine the large-scale mechanisms responsible for the isotopic variations of rainfall in Iran. Combined with studying the transformation of rainfall to cave drip water isotopic values, this project will unlock the relationship between oxygen isotopes measured in cave stalagmites and large-scale climate, thus setting the stage for hundreds of thousands of years of climate data to be extracted from our Iranian stalagmite collection. This work aims to initiate a multi-year rainwater and dripwater collection program at 3 locations in Iran: Tehran, Mashhad, and Kerman

Volcanic tracers in stalagmites

Preliminary data supported by Stanford SSRL and UK Diamond Light Source synchrotron beamtime (2017-2018)

collaborators: Kim Cobb (Georgia Tech), Jess Adkins (Caltech), Ian Orland (Wisconsin), David Pyle (Oxford)

Until recently, estimates of past volcanic sulfur emissions have been limited to paleovolcanic ice core records and/or eruption deposit petrology. However, stalagmite studies are now beginning to use synchrotron measurements to investigate past volcanic ash and atmospheric sulfur injections. Here I aim to use the UK Diamond Light Source to analyze S and other larger elements on Borneo stalagmites, particularly one with ages that flank the famous Toba super eruption, for which the climatic impact is greatly contested. If successful, these results would demonstrate the potential of Borneo stalagmites to eventually be used to quantify the amount of sulfur gas injected into the stratosphere by historic eruptions plus the Toba super eruption. Collaborators are also working to use SIMS scans to reconstruct an ultra-high resolution stable isotope record of the Borneo stalagmite Toba excursion first identified in Carolin et al., 2013.

Rainwater isotope and climate history of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool over the last glacial period

Royal Society international collaboration scheme (£5700) (2016-2017)
Royal Geographical Society field grant (£500) (2016)
Geological Society of London research grant (£1350) (2017)

collaborators: David Battisti (Univ of Washington), Qinghua Ding (UCSB), Xianfeng Wang (Singapore), Gideon Henderson (Oxford)

The objective of this project is to better constrain the rainwater isotope and climate history of the tropical Indo-Pacific from the last glacial period through the present. This project will also investigate how the region’s atmospheric dynamics impact rainwater isotopes and climate elsewhere around the globe during this period. We aim to execute multiple isotope-enabled atmospheric-slab ocean model experiments targeting the tropical Indo-Pacific to analyze model simulation / proxy record synthesis comparisons. Notably, the limited availability of stalagmite records across the region still restricts our ability to pinpoint specific climate mechanisms responsible for the evident variability recorded at a single site. Here we also aim to locate and establish new karst field sites from west Malaysia across Borneo. This project will include the establishment of additional cave dripwater isotopic variability monitoring sites throughout the region, construction of stalagmite oxygen isotope records from the newly established field sites, and analysis of available oxygen isotope records in the region in an isotope-enabled model-data comparison study.

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.



Conference Abstracts:

Carolin S, Orland I, Cobb K, Adkins J, Valley J, Webb S, Edwards N, Pyle D, Mosselmans F & Geraki T, (2017). Finding Toba: Traces in a Borneo Stalagmite, Goldschmidt Abstracts, 2017 562.


Carolin, S.A., Morgan, J., Peckover, E., Walker, R., Henderson, G., Rowe, P., Andrews, J., Ersek, V., Sloan, A., Talebian, M., Fattahi, M., and Nezamdoust, J., (2016). Iranian speleothems: Investigating Quaternary climate variability in semi-arid Western Asia, Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 18, EGU2016-923.


Carolin, S.A., Walker, R., Henderson, G.M., Maxfield, L., Ersek, V., Sloan, R.A., Talebian, M., Fattahi, M., Nezamdoust, J., (2015). Decadal-scale climate variability on the central Iranian plateau spanning the so-called 4.2 ka BP drought event, Abstract PP21D-07 presented at AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA.


Carolin, S.A., Cobb, K.M., Adkins, J.F., Subhas, A.V., Clark, B., Tuen, A.A., (2013). Insights into the western tropical Pacific’s role in late Pleistocene hydroclimate variability: 160ky Borneo stalagmite δ18O record, Abstract PP31E-05 presented at AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA.


Carolin, S.A., Cobb, K.M., Adkins, J.F., Subhas, A., (2011). Stalagmite record of millennial-scale hydroclimate variability in Borneo during the last glacial period, Abstract PP14A-07 presented at AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA.