Nathan D. Stansell, Ph.D.

Research Interests

My research interests apply a wide range of methods to better understand past climatic changes on a range of timescales. Some of the highlights include:

  • Stable isotope geochemistry and paleolimnology in western North America, Central America and South America
  • Proglacial lake sediment stratigraphy in the tropical Andes
  • Cosmogenic radionuclide dating in the tropical Andes
  • Glacier mass-balance modeling
  • High latitude climate and carbon dynamics

Currently Funded Projects

IRES: TransArctic Connections: Linking students with Finnish scientists for research in the rapidly changing arctic. NSF, IRES Program. OISE-2246405. In collaboration with University of Alaska Anchorage. Active through 2026.

Collaborative Research: Transient Forcing of the Local Last Glacial Maximum in the Tropical Peruvian Andes. NSF. EAR-2002541. In collaboration with University of New Hampshire, Ohio State University, and University of Minnesota-Duluth. Active through 2025.

IRES: US-Estonia research partnership in reconstructing past climate dynamics. NSF, IRES Program. OISE-1827135. Active through 2024.


  • Technology Applications in Geoscience (GEOL 375)
  • Geological Field Techniques (GEOL 478)
  • Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (GEOL 405/505)
  • Introductory Geology (GEOL120)
  • Environmental Geology (GEOL 105)
  • Geomorphology (GEOL 442/542)
  • Paleoclimatology, Paleogeography, Paleoecology (GEOL 322)
  • Peatlands and Climate Change (GEOL494/746)
  • Paleolimnology (GEOL 494/746)
  • Paleoclimatology Seminar (GEOL 494/746)
  • Geology and the National Parks (GEOL 101)
  • Climate Change: Causes and Consequences
  • Climatology


* Denotes a student author


Obrist-Farner, J., Steinman, B.A., Stansell, N.D., Maurer, J.. (2023). Incoherency in Central American Hydroclimate Records Spanning the Last Millennium. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.

*Palusalu, M, Poska, A., Väli, V., Vassiljev, J. Eensalu, M., Stansell, N.D. (2023). The influence of lake choice on pollen-based vegetation reconstructions. Estonian Geographical Society: 46: 48-63. 

Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M.B., Bezada, M., Licciardi, J., Mark, B.G., Rodbell, D.T., Shutkin, T. (2023). Pre-industrial Holocene glacier variability in the tropical Andes as context for anthropogenically driven ice retreat. Global and Planetary Change. 229: 104242. 

*Eensalu, M., Nelson, D.B., Buczynska, A., Rach, O., Klein, E.S., Dodd, J., Poska, A., Stansell, N.D. (2023). Hydrogen isotope biogeochemistry of plant waxes in paired lake catchments. Organic Geochemistry

*Shutkin, T., Mark, B.G., Stansell, N.D., Cruz, R., Schoessow, F.S., Zhengyu, L. (In Review), Temperature-Driven Retreat of a Tropical Glacier Exacerbated by Proglacial Lake Feedbacks. Journal of Glaciology.

Mark, B.G., Stansell, N.D., Shutkin, T., Schoessow, F.S. (in review) Glaciations and the environments of the Cordillera Blanca. Book Chapter. In Geoenvironmental Change. Springer.


Obrist-Farner, J., Steinman, B.A., Stansell, N.D., Maurer, J.. (In Revision). Spatiotemporally variable hydroclimate in western Central American during the last millennium. Submitted to Nature Communications Earth and Environment in November 2021.

*Milton, E. Stansell, N.D., Bocherens, H., Brownlee, A., Chala-Aldana, D., Rademaker, K. (2022) Testing the Relationship Between Elevation and δ18O in the Central Andes: A Watershed Moment for Inter-zonal Mobility Studies. Journal of Archaeological Science: 146

*Price, B.N., Stansell, N.D., Fernández, A., Licciardi, J.M., Lesnek, A.J., Sorensen, M.K., Jaque Castillo, E., Muñoz, A., Shutkin, T., Ciocca, I., Galilea, I.. (2022). Chlorine-36 surface exposure dating and glacial mass balance modeling of late-Holocene moraines, South-Central Chilean Andes (38°S). Frontiers in Earth Science. 10: 848652.  This is part of a special volume on Glaciation in the Andes.

Steinman, B.A., Stansell, N.D., Mann, M.E., Cooke, C.A., Abbott, M.B., Lachniet, M.S., Vuille, M., Bird, B. W., Fernandez, A. (2022). North-south antiphasing of neotropical precipitation over the last millennium. PNAS 119 (17) e2120015119. 

Stansell, N.D., Klein, E.S, Hill, K., Terasmaa, J., Dodd, J.P., Boes, M., Eensalu, M., Fortney, C., Fritts, A., Garcia, R., Price, B., Swanson, B.. (2022). A late Holocene stable isotope and carbon accumulation record from Teringi Bog in southern Estonia. Quaternary 5:8. Data available for download.

Stansell, N.D., Mark, B.G., Licciardi, J.M., Rodbell, D.T., Fairman, J. G., Schoessow, F.S., Shutkin, T. Y., Sorensen, M.. (2022). Energy mass-balance and flow modeling of early Holocene glaciers in the Queshque valley, Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Quaternary Science Reviews 281: 107414

Finkenbinder, M., Steinman, B.A., Bird, B., Heilman, E, Aspey, A., Mark, S., Stansell, N.D., Fernandez, A., Halsor, S., Abbott, M.B. (2022). A 5,000 year lacustrine sediment oxygen isotope record of late Holocene climate change in Newfoundland. Quaternary Science Reviews: 278, 107376 


*Harvey, W.J., Petrokofsky, G., Stansell, N.D., Nogué, S., Petrokofsky, L., Willis, K.J. Forests, Water, and Land Use Change across the Central American Isthmus: Mapping the Evidence Base for Terrestrial Holocene Palaeoenvironmental ProxiesForests 2021, 12, 1057. doi: 10.3390/f12081057

*Neuhaus, S.U., Tulaczyk, S.M., Stansell, N.D., Coenen, J., Scherer, R. P., Mikucki, J.A., Powell, R.D.. Mid-Holocene Retreat and Late Holocene Re-advance of the Grounding Line in the Ross Sea Sector. The Cryosphere: 15:10 DOI: 10.5194/tc-15-4655-2021


*Harvey, W.J., Nogué, S., Stansell, N.D., Adolf, C., Long, P., Willis, K. (2020). A Palynological Perspective on the Impacts of European Contact: Historic Deforestation, Ranching and Agriculture Surrounding the Cuchumatanes Highlands, Guatemala. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany: 1-14

Stansell, N.D., Steinman, B.A., Lachniet, M.L., Feller, J.R., Harvey, W., Fernandez, A., Shea, C.J., Price, B., Boes, M., Perdziola, S. (2020). Lake sediment stable isotope record of middle-to-late Holocene hydroclimate variability in the western Guatemala highlands. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 542: 116327. Data available through NOAA-NCDC

Palacios, D., Stokes, C.R., Phillips, F.M., Clague, J.J., Alcalá, J., Andres, N., Angel, I., Blard, P.H., Briner, J., Hall, B.L., Dahms, D., Hein, A.S., Jomelli, V., Mark, B., Martini, M.A., Moreno, P., Riedel, J., Sagredo, E.A., Stansell, N.D., Vazquez-Selem, L., Vuille, M., Ward, D. (2020). The Deglaciation of the Americas during the Last Glacial Termination. Earth Science Reviews 203: 103113

Schnieder, L., Cooke, C.A., Stansell, N.D., Haberle, S. (2020). Effects of climate variability on mercury deposition in sediments of the Venezuelan Andes. Journal of Paleolimnology 63: 211-224


*Harvey, W.J., Stansell, N.D., Nogué, S., Willis, K.J. (2019). The Apparent Resilience of the Dry Tropical Forests of the Nicaraguan Region of the Central American Dry Corridor to Variations in Climate Over the Last C.1200 Years. Quaternary 2:25

*Harvey, W.J., Nogué, S., Stansell, N.D., Petrokofsky, G., Steinman, B.S., Willis, K.J. (2019). The legacy of Pre-Columbian fire on the Pine-Oak forests of upland Guatemala. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 2:34.

Steinman, B.A., Nelson, D.B., Abbott, M.B., Stansell, N.D., Finkenbinder, M.S., Finney, B. (2019). Lake sediment records of Holocene hydroclimate and impacts of the Mount Mazama eruption, north-central Washington, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews 204: 17-36.


Kingslake, J., Scherer, R., Albrecht, T., Coenen, J., Powell, R., Reese, R., Stansell, N., Tulaczyk, S., Whitehouse, P. (2018). Extensive Holocene grounding line retreat and uplift-driven readvance in West Antarctica. Nature 558: 430-434

Finkenbinder, M.S., Abbott, M.B., Stoner, J.S., Ortiz, J.D., Finney, B.P., Dorfman, J.M., Stansell, N.D. (2018). Millennial-scale variability in Holocene climate from Burial Lake, Arctic Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews 187: 220-234


Stansell, N.D., Klein, E.S., Fortney, C., Dodd, J., Finkenbinder, M.S., Terasmaa, J., Nelson, D.B. (2017). A stable isotope records of Holocene precipitation dynamics from Lake Nuudsaku, Estonia. Quaternary Science Reviews 175(C) 73-84. Data available through NOAA-NCDC

Stansell, N.D., Licciardi, J.M., Rodbell, D.T., Mark, B.G. (2017). Late Glacial and Holocene glacier fluctuations in the Cordillera Blanca, Peruvian Andes. Geophysical Research Letters 44:9: 4176-4185. DOI:10.1002/2016GL072408. Data available through NOAA-NCDC

Mark, B.G., Stansell, N.D., Zeballos, G. (2017). The last deglaciation of Peru and Bolivia. Special Volume: Last Deglaciation of America. Cuadernos de Investigación Geográfica (D. Palacios, editor)


Steinman, B.A., Pompeani, D., Abbott, M.B., Ortiz, J., Stansell, N.D., Mihindukalasooriya, L., Hillman, A., Finkenbinder, M. (2016). Model based paleoclimate interpretations of Holocene oxygen isotope records from the Pacific Northwest. Quaternary Science Reviews 142: 40-60. DOI:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.012


Stansell, N.D., Rodbell, D.T., Licciardi, J.M., Sedlak, C.M., Schweinsberg, A.D.,  Huss, E.G., Finkel, R.C., Zimmerman, S.R. (2015). Late Glacial and Holocene glacier fluctuations at Nevado Huaguruncho in the Eastern Cordillera of the Peruvian Andes. Geology 43:8: 747-750. DOI:10.1130/G36735.1. Data available through NOAA-NCDC


Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Mann, M.E., Ortiz, J., Feng, S., Pompeani, D., Stansell, N.D., Anderson, L.A., Finney, B.P., Bird, B.W.. (2014). Ocean-atmosphere forcing of centennial hydroclimate variability in the Pacific Northwest. Geophysical Research Letters 41: 7: 2553-2560. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059499

Stansell, N.D., Polissar, P.J., Abbott, M.B., Bezada, M., Steinman, B.A., Braun, C. (2014). Proglacial lake sediment records reveal Holocene climate changes in the Venezuelan Andes. Quaternary Science Reviews 89: 44-55. Data available through NOAA-NCDC


Stansell, N.D., Rodbell, D.T., Abbott, M.B., Mark, B.G. (2013). Proglacial lake sediment records of Holocene climate change in the western Cordillera of Peru (Invited Review). Quaternary Science Reviews 13: 1-14. Data available through NOAA-NCDC

Stansell, N.D., Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Rubinov, M., Roman-Lacayo, M. (2013). Lacustrine stable isotope record of climate change in Nicaragua during the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly. Geology 41: 151-154. Data available through NOAA-NCDC

Stansell, N.D. (2013). Radiocarbon ages for the timing of debris avalanches at Mombacho Volcano, Nicaragua. Bulletin of Volcanology 75: 1: 1-4

Klein, E.S., Booth, R.K.,Yu, Z, Mark, B.G., Stansell, N.D. (2013). Surficial geology influences the response of peatland carbon accumulation to climate variability: a comparative study of two peatlands in a glaciated valley in Southcentral Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews 64: 61-75

Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Stansell, N.D., Nelson, D.B., Finney, B.P., Rosenmeier, M.F. (2013). Isotopic and hydrologic responses of small closed basin lakes to climate variability: Comparison of measured and modeled lake level and sediment core oxygen isotope records. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 105: 455-471


Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Mann, M.E., Stansell, N.D., Finney, B.P. (2012) 1500-year quantitative reconstruction of precipitation from the Pacific Northwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1201083109


Bird, B.W., Abbott, M.B., Vuille, M., Rodbell, D.T., Stansell, N.D., Rosenmeier, M.F. (2011). A 2,300-year-long annually resolved record of the South American summer monsoon from the Peruvian Andes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1003719108

Nelson, D.B., Abbott, M.B., Steinman, B.A., Polissar, P.J., Stansell, N.D., Ortiz, J. D., Rosenmeier, M.F., Finney, B., Riedel, J. (2011). A 6,000-yr Lake Record of Drought from the Pacific Northwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1009194108

Montoya, E., Rull, V., Stansell, N.D., Bird, B., Nogue, S., Vegas-Vilarrubia, T., Abbott, M., Diaz, W. (2011). Vegetation changes in the Neotropical Gran Sabana (Venezuela) around the Younger Dryas Chron. Journal of Quaternary Science 26: 207-218

Montoya, E., Rull, V., Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M.B., Nogue, S., Bird, B.W., Diaz, W.A.. (2011). Forest-savanna-morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation during the last millennia. Quaternary Research 76: 335-344


Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M.B., Rull, V., Rodbell, D., Bezada, M., Montoya, E. (2010).  Abrupt Younger Dryas Cooling in the Northern Tropics Recorded in Lake Sediments from the Venezuelan Andes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 293: 154-162. Data available through NOAA-NCDC

Rull, V., Stansell, N.D., Montoya, E., Bezada, M., Abbott, M.B. (2010). Palynological Signal of the Younger Dryas in the tropical Venezuelan Andes. Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 3045-3056


Stansell, N.D., Polissar, P.J., and Abbott, M.B. (2007a). Last Glacial Maximum Equilibrium-Line Altitude and Paleo-Temperature Reconstructions for the Cordillera de Mérida, Venezuelan Andes. Quaternary Research 67: 115-127.

Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M. B., Polissar, P. J., Wolfe, A. P., Bezada, M., Rull, V. (2007b). Reply: Late Quaternary Deglacial History of the Mérida Andes, Venezuela: response to comment. Journal of Quaternary Science, 22(8) 823-825. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1109.


Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M. B., Polissar, P. J., Wolfe, A. P., Bezada, M., Rull, V. (2005). Late Quaternary Deglacial History of the Mérida Andes, Venezuela. Journal of Quaternary Science, Special Issue: Paleoclimate records from the Americas, in Memory of Geoffrey Owen Seltzer. 40(7-8), 801-812.

Nathan D. Stansell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Paleoclimatology, Glacial Geology, Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Paleolimnology, Quaternary Stratigraphy, Radiometric Dating Methods

Davis Hall 402 

Paleoclimatology Lab

Stable Isotope Lab


Postdoctoral Researcher, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University

Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh

M.S. University of Pittsburgh

B.S., Geology, University of Idaho

B.S., Anthropology, University of Idaho

Contact Us

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Davis Hall, Room 312

815-753-1943 (undergraduate)
815-753-0631 (graduate)

815-753-1945 (fax)

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