Dr. Kaustubh Thirumalai
Dr. Kaustubh Thirumalai
Arizona Paleoceanography


We study the history of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere.

How? We use stable isotope and trace metal geochemistry to generate records of past ocean and climate variability across various timescales.

Why? Considering ongoing and future global climate change, a long-term perspective is required to fully assess the machinery of Earth’s climate system.


Kaustubh Thirumalai
Assistant Professor


My research focuses on Earth's climate variability, paleoclimatology, and paleoceanography. I am interested in learning about the causes and mechanisms of past fluctuations in the ocean and atmosphere, and how such information can help us anticipate future changes. To do so, I use a combination of observations, geochemical measurements, and climate models to identify and investigate important processes at play in the Earth-climate system. Primarily, my work involves stable isotopic and trace metal geochemistry of carbonate archives (e.g. corals, foraminifera, snails, stalagmites) as well as the analysis of climate simulations. I am also interested in extreme climate events and hazards (earthquakes, flooding, heatwaves, sea-level changes), and how the geological record can help inform future projections.

Ongoing research projects include Indo-Pacific climate change, reconstructing Atlantic Ocean circulation anomalies, Indian paleomonsoon variability, and uncertainty in proxy-model comparisons.



Are you interested in paleoceanography, climate change, geochemistry, or micropaleontology? Reach out via email if you’re an undergraduate student seeking research experience, a potential M.S./Ph.D. student, or if you’d like to explore postdoctoral options.

Come work with us in Tucson, Az!





27. Thirumalai, K., P. N. DiNezio, J. E. Tierney, M. Puy, M. Mohtadi (2019), An El Niño Mode in the Glacial Indian Ocean?, Paleoceanography & Paleoclimatology
doi: 10.1029/2019PA003669

26. Greene, C. A., K. Thirumalai, K. A. Kearney, J. M. Delgado, W. Schwanghart, N. S. Wolfenbarger, K. M. Thyng, D. E. Gwyther, A. S. Gardner, D. D. Blankenship (2019), The climate data toolbox for MATLAB, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 20, 3774-3781
doi: 10.1029/2019GC008392

25. Naidu, P. D., N. Niitsuma, K. Thirumalai, and S. S. Naik (2019), Significant seasonal contrast in the Arabian Sea during deglaciation: Evidence from oxygen isotopic analyses of individual planktic foraminifera, Quaternary International, 163-169
doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2018.08.005.

24. Richey, J. N., Thirumalai, K., D. Khider, C. Reynolds, J. W. Partin, T. M. Quinn (2019), Considerations for Globigerinoides ruber (white and pink) paleoceanography: comprehensive insights from a long-running sediment trap, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 34: 353-373
doi: 10.1029/2018PA003417

23. Schmitt A. , M. Elliot, K. Thirumalai, C. La, F. Bassinot, J. Petersen, A. Movellan, S. Jorr y, J. Borgomano (2018), Single foraminifera Mg/Ca of two morphotypes of plank- tonic species G. ruber by LA-ICPMS: New insights into past seasonality and inter-annual variability of water column temperatures, Chemical Geology, 511, 510-520
doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2018.11.007


22. Giosan, L., W. Orsi, M. Coolen, C. Wuchter, A. G. Dunlea, K. Thirumalai, S. E. Munoz, P. D. Clift, J. P. Donnelly, V. Galy, D. Fuller (2018), Neoglacial climate anomalies and the Harappan metamorphosis, Climate of the Past, 14(11), 1669–1686
doi: 10.5194/cp-14-1669-2018.

21. Thirumalai, K. (2018), A fresh take on ancient climate change in the North Pacific, Nature, 559(7713), 185–186
doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05614-y.

20. Thirumalai, K., T. M. Quinn, Y. Okumura, J. N. Richey, J. W. Partin, R. Z. Poore, E. Moreno-Chamarro (2018), Pronounced centennial-scale Atlantic Ocean climate variability correlated with Western Hemisphere hydroclimate, Nature Communications, 1-11
doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-02846-4


19. Ghosh, P. , R. Rangarajan, K. Thirumalai, F. Naggs (2017), Extreme monsoon rainfall signatures preserved in the invasive terrestrial gastropod Lissachatina fulica, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 18
doi: 10.1002/2017GC007041

18. Tindall, J., A. M. Haywood, K. Thirumalai (2017), Modelling the Stable Water Isotope expression of El Niño in the Pliocene: Implications for the interpretation of proxy data, Paleoceanography, 32, 881-902
doi: 10.1002/2016PA003059

17. Thirumalai, K., P. N. DiNezio, Y. O. Okumura, C. Deser (2017) Extreme temperatures in Southeast Asia caused by El Niño and worsened by global warming, Nature Communications, 8:15531, 1-8
doi: 10.1038/ncomms15531 [PDF]

16. Emile-Geay, J., and the PAGES2K Consortium (2017), A global multiproxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era, Scientific Data, 4, 170088
doi: 10.1038/sdata.2017.88 [PDF]

15. Flannery, J. A., J. N. Richey, K. Thirumalai, R. Z. Poore, K. L. DeLong (2017) Multi-species Coral Sr/Ca Based Sea-Surface Temperature Reconstruction Using Orbicella faveolata and Siderastrea siderea from Dry Tortugas National Park, FL, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 466, 100-109
doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.10.022


14. Thirumalai, K., T. M. Quinn, G. Marino (2016), Constraining past seawater δ¹⁸O and temperature records developed from foraminiferal geochemistry, Paleoceanography, 31,1409–1422
doi: 10.1002/2016PA002970

13. Thirumalai, K. and J. N. Richey (2016), Potential for paleosalinity to provide information on past AMOC variability, US Clivar Variations, 14, 3, 8-12
Summer 2016 Issue [PDF]

12. Abram, N. J., H. V. McGregor, J. E. Tierney, & the PAGES 2k Consortium (2016), Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents, Nature, 536, 411-418
doi: 10.1038/nature19082

11. Weil Accardo, J., N. Feuillet, E. Jacques, P. Deschamps, J-M. Saurel, K. Thirumalai, S. Demeza, D. Anglade (2016), Relative sea-level changes during the last century recorded by coral microatolls in Belloc, Haiti, Global and Planetary Change, 139, 1-14
doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.12.019

10. Goff, J. A., L., Lugrin, L., S. P. S., Gulick, K. Thirumalai, Y. Okumura (2016), Oyster Reef Die-Offs in Stratigraphic Record of Corpus Christi Bay, Texas Possibly Caused by Drought-Driven Extreme Salinity Changes, The Holocene, 26(4), 511-519
doi: 10.1177/0959683615612587i  

2015 and Before

9. McGregor, H. V., M. N. Evans, H. Goosse, G. Leduc, B. Martrat, J. A. Addison, P. G. Mortyn, D. W. Oppo, M-S. Seidenkrantz, M-A. Sicre, S. J. Phipps, K. Selvaraj, K. Thirumalai, H. L. Filipsson, V. Ersek (2015), Robust global ocean cooling trend for the pre-industrial Common Era, Nature Geoscience, 8, 671-678
doi:10.1038/ngeo2510 [PDF]

8. Thirumalai, K., F. W. Taylor, C.-C. Shen, L. L. Lavier, C. Frohlich, L. M. Wallace, C.-C. Wu, H. Sun, A. K. Papabatu (2015), Variable Holocene deformation above a shallow subduction zone extremely close to the trench, Nature Communications, 6, 1-6
doi: 10.1038/ncomms8607 [PDF]

7. Clemens, S.C., W. Kuhnt, L. J. LeVay, and the Expedition 353 Scientists (2015), Indian monsoon rainfall, International Ocean Discovery Program Preliminary Report, 353.
doi: 10.14379/iodp.pr.353.2015

6. Wicks, T. Z., K. Thirumalai, T. M. Shanahan, C. J. Bell (2015), The use of δ¹³C values of leporid teeth as indicators of past vegetation, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 418 (C), 245-260
doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.11.017

5. Thirumalai, K., J. N. Richey, T. M. Quinn, R. Z. Poore (2014), Globigerinoides ruber morphotypes in the Gulf of Mexico: A test of null hypothesis, Scientific Reports, 4, 6018
doi: 10.1038/srep06018 [PDF]

4. Maupin, C. R., J. W. Partin, C.-C. Shen, T. M. Quinn, K. Lin, F. W. Taylor, J. L. Banner, K. Thirumalai, D. J. Sinclair (2014), Persistent decadal-scale rainfall variability in the tropical South Pacific Convergence Zone through the past six centuries, Climate of the Past, 10, 1319-1332
doi:10.5194/cp-10-1319-2014 [PDF]

3. Laskar, A., N. Gandhi, K. Thirumalai, M. G. Yadava, R. Ramesh, R. R. Mahajan, D. Kumar (2013), Stable carbon isotopes in dissolved inorganic carbon: extraction and implications for quantifying the contributions from silicate and carbonate weathering in the Krishna River system during peak discharge, Isotopes in Environmental and Health Sciences, 50 (2), 1-13
doi: 10.1080/10256016.2014.878715 

2. Thirumalai, K., J. W. Partin, C. S. Jackson, T. M. Quinn (2013), Statistical constraints on El Niño Southern Oscillation reconstructions using individual foraminifera: a sensitivity analysis, Paleoceanography, 28, 401-412
doi: 10.1002/palo.20037 

1. Thirumalai, K., A. Singh, R. Ramesh (2011), A MATLAB code to perform weighted linear regression with (correlated or uncorrelated) errors in bivariate data, Journal Of The Geological Society Of India, 77 (4), 377-380
doi: 10.1007/s12594-011-0044-1 [PDF