Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Dorothy M Peteet


Dorothy M Peteet's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 212.678.5510
Org Code: 611
Mail Code 611
New York, NY 10025

Brief Bio

Dr. Dorothy M. Peteet is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor, Columbia University.  She directs the Paleoecology Division of the New Core Lab at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia and in collaboration with GISS climate modelers and LDEO geochemists is studying the Late Pleistocene and Holocene archives of lakes and wetlands (peatlands, salt marshes, tidal freshwater marshes, bogs, fens).  Documenting past vegetational change using pollen and spores, plant and animal macrofossils, loss-on-ignition, carbon, and charcoal in conjunction with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating, her research provides local and regional records of vegetational and climate history and carbon sequestration. Peteet has performed GCM experiments to test hypotheses concerning LGM and abrupt climate change.  She is interested in climate sensitivity from past climate changes and ecological shifts with future climate change.  Droughts are of recent interest.

Research Interests


Earth Science: Climate

Understanding of past shifts in climate, including abrupt events.  Research in eastern N. America,
Siberia, Arctic and subarctic regions of Alaska, Easter Island, etc...and timing is from present back to last interglacial.  Droughts are of particular interest in the northeastern US.


Earth Science: Carbon Cycle

Understanding past vegetational change throughout areas of research and the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change.  Pollen and plant macrofossil studies.  Ecosystem functions.

Carbon sequestration

Earth Science: Carbon Cycle

Relationship of past vegetational change to past carbon storage in wetlands.

Human impact

Earth Science: Land Disturbance

Human impact and its effect on ecosystems...record in sediment cores reveals invasive species, erosion of watersheds, pollution, etc.

Current Projects

Alaskan paleoclimate and paleovegation records and their relationship to carbon storage

Carbon Cycle

Transect of peatland sites both N-S and E-W in Alaska documents the relationship of past climate and vegetational change to carbon sequestered in the peatlands.

Timing of Deglaciation in Northeastern US


Understanding timing of deglaciation in northeastern US and its relationship to Greenland ice cores, sea level rise, and ocean temperature shifts.

Climate Sensitivity


Differences in climate sensitivity of planet earth during different time intervals since last ice age.
Feedbacks such as vegetational change very important.

Abrupt climate shifts

Ecosystem function

Understanding relationship of terrestrial abrupt climate shifts of the past and their effects on forest and wetland vegeational change in various regions of the globe.  Younger Dryas cooling and Medieval Warming are examples.


Hydrology / Water Cycle

Past droughts in the northeastern US are visible through forest shifts in species composition and increases in fire frequency.  We document past drought frequency and intensity and the importance of future droughts for urban areas of the northeast.


Senior Research Scientist

NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies - New York, NY

1999 - Present

Adjunct Professor

Columbia University - New York, NY

1999 - Present

Teach undergraduate and graduate students, "Wetlands and Climate Change" class at Columbia, and direct Paleoecology Laboratory at LDEO

Research Scientist

NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies - New York, NY

1985 - 1999

Adjunct Associate Research Scientist

Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory - Palisades, NY

1985 - 1999

National Research Council Resident Research Associate

National Research Council - NASA/GISS

1983 - 1985

2-yr postdoctorate

Teaching Experience

1999-present Teaching 4000 level course "Wetlands and Climate Change" at Columbia University
1997- present  Developed and taught "Wetlands and Climate Change" at Columbia University in Dept. of Earth and Environmental Science
Taught Paleoclimate undergraduate class at Columbia University
Mentoring Ph.D, MS., undergraduate, and high school students


  • Ph.D., New York University, l983
  • MS., New York University, l979
  • BA, Botany, Duke University, l974

Professional Societies

Board of Directors, NYC Audubon Society

2009 - 2014

North American Pollen Database

Panel Member

2009 - Present

Hudson River Environmental Society

Board of Directors

2004 - 2007

NY Institute for Climate and Planets Summer Program

Mentor for high school and college students

1995 - Present

National Academy Sciences Abrupt Climate Change: Science and Policy

Panel Member

2000 - 2001

NSF/OPP Antarctic Glaciology

Panel Member

1995 - Present

Board of Earth Science Division of UNESCO Intl. Global Climate Program Project entitled Global Younger Dryas?


1990 - 1994

AMQUA Paleoclimatology


1990 - 1994

AGU Oceanography Committee

Panel Member

1994 - 1998

NSF Ice Core Working Group

Panel Member

1990 - 1992

US National Committee for International Union of Quaternary Research

Panel Member

1992 - 1994

Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory Climate Center Committee

Panel Member

1996 - 2010



1990 - Present



1985 - Present

Ecological Society of America


2008 - Present

American Assn. of Stratigraphic Palynologists


1985 - Present

Torrey Botanical Club


1985 - Present

Botanical Society of America

2000 - Present

Professional Service

NYC Audubon Society, Hudson River Environmental Society, NSF Panelist, Journal Reviews, etc.


2022 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Award

2022 July NASA Performance Award

2006 New York City Research Initiative Achievement Award

2004 NASA/GISS Special Act Award

2003 NASA/GISS Special Act Award

1999 NASA/GSFC Performance Award

1992 NASA/GISS Peer Review Award

l983-1985 National Research Council Award

l982 Gladys Mateyco Biology Award for Excellence in Biology

1980 Torrey Botanical Club Annette Hervey Award, Best Student Paper

Selected Publications


2023. "Marsh archive reveals human population history and future implications for estuarine health in Long Island Sound." Science of The Total Environment 895 164885 [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.164885] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Deglaciation of northwestern Greenland during Marine Isotope Stage 11." Science 381 (6655): 330-335 [10.1126/science.ade4248] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Mineral inputs, paleoecological change, and Holocene carbon accumulation at a boreal peatland in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Canada." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 596 110996 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.110996] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "A near-continuous record of climate and ecosystem variability in Central Europe during the past 130 kyrs (Marine Isotope Stages 5–1) from Füramoos, southern Germany." Quaternary Science Reviews 284 107505 [10.1016/j.quascirev.2022.107505] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "WALLY BROECKER—USING RADIOCARBON FOR PUZZLES OF THE GLACIAL AND DEGLACIAL ENVIRONMENT." Radiocarbon 1-6 [10.1017/rdc.2021.87] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Importance of quantifying the full-depth carbon reservoir of Jamaica Bay salt Marshes, New York." City and Environment Interactions 12 100073 [10.1016/j.cacint.2021.100073] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Placing the east-west North American aridity gradient in a multi-century context." Environmental Research Letters 16 (11): 114043 [10.1088/1748-9326/ac2f63] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Late Glacial and Holocene environmental variability, Lago Trasimeno, Italy." Quaternary International [10.1016/j.quaint.2021.10.011] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Summer temperatures during the last glaciation (MIS 5c to MIS 3) inferred from a 50,000-year chironomid record from Füramoos, southern Germany." Quaternary Science Reviews 264 107008 [10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107008] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "J. E. Nichols and D. M. Peteet reply." Nature Geoscience 14 (7): 470-472 [10.1038/s41561-021-00771-8] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (13): e2021442118 [10.1073/pnas.2021442118] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "A new glacial varve chronology along the southern Laurentide Ice Sheet that spans the Younger Dryas–Holocene boundary." Geology 49 (3): 283-288 [10.1130/g47995.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Climate and anthropogenic controls on blue carbon sequestration in Hudson River tidal marsh, Piermont, New York." Environmental Research Letters 15 (6): 065001 [10.1088/1748-9326/ab7a56] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Exploring the role of humans and climate over the Balkan landscape: 500 years of vegetational history of Serbia." Quaternary Science Reviews 144 83-94 [10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.021] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Climate and Fuel Controls on North American Paleofires: Smoldering to Flaming in the Late-glacial-Holocene Transition." Scientific Reports 6 20719 [10.1038/srep20719] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Recent and Holocene climate change controls on vegetation and carbon accumulation in Alaskan coastal muskegs." Quat. Sci. Rev. 131A 168-178 [10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.032] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "On the reconstruction of palaeo-ice sheets: Recent advances and future challenges." Quat. Sci. Rev. 125 15-49 [doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.07.016] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "A 12,000-yr pollen record off Cape Hatteras -- Pollen sources and mechanisms of pollen dispersion." Mar. Geol. 367 118-129 [doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2015.06.003] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Impacts of climate and vegetation change on carbon accumulation in a south-central Alaskan peatland assessed with novel organic geochemical techniques." Holocene 24 (9): 1146-1155 [doi:10.1177/0959683614540729] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "A novel framework for quantifying past methane recycling by Sphagnum-methanotroph symbiosis using carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios of leaf wax biomarkers." Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 15 (5): 1827-1836 [10.1002/2014GC005242] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "A deglacial and Holocene record of climate variability in south-central Alaska from stable oxygen isotopes and plant macrofossils in peat." Quaternary Science Reviews 87 1-11 [10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.12.025] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Climate sensitivity in the Anthropocene." Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc. 139 (674): 1121-1131 [10.1002/qj.2165] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "A history of vegetation, sediment and nutrient dynamics at Tivoli North Bay, Hudson Estuary, New York." Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 102-103 24-35 [10.1016/j.ecss.2012.03.003] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Delayed deglaciation or extreme Arctic conditions 21-16 cal. kyr at southeastern Laurentide Ice Sheet margin?." Geophysical Research Letters 39 (11): L11706 [10.1029/2012GL051884] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Late-glacial and Holocene vegetation and climate variability, including major droughts, in the Sky Lakes region of southeastern New York State." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 353-355 45-59 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.06.033] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Evaluation and calibration of a Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer for quantitative analysis of siliciclastic soils and sediments." J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 26 (2): 395-405 [10.1039/c0ja00133c] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Late-glacial and Holocene δ15N and δ13C variation from a Kenai Peninsula, Alaska peatland." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 293 (1-2): 132-143 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.05.007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Climate and vegetation history from a 14,000-year peatland record, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska." Quaternary Research 72 (2): 207-217 [10.1016/j.yqres.2009.04.002] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Enigmatic eastern Laurentide ice sheet deglaciation." Eos Trans Amer Geophys Union 87 (15): 151 [10.1029/2006EO150007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Medieval Warming, Little Ice Age, and European impact on the environment during the last millennium in the lower Hudson Valley, New York, USA." Quaternary Research 63 (3): 238-249 [10.1016/j.yqres.2005.01.001] [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "The influence of winter temperatures on the annual radial growth of six northern range margin tree species." Dendrochronologia 22 (1): 7-29 [10.1016/j.dendro.2004.09.005] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "Abrupt Climate Change." Science 299 (5615): 2005-2010 [10.1126/science.1081056] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Responses of an arctic landscape to Lateglacial and early Holocene climatic changes: the importance of moisture." Quaternary Sci Rev 21 (8-9): 997-1021 [10.1016/S0277-3791(01)00116-0] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Generating probabilities in support of societal decision-making." Eos Trans. Amer. Geophys. U. 82 (20): 222 [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Late pleistocene interstadial environment on Faddeyevskiy Island, East-Siberian Sea, Russia." Arct Antarct Alp Res 33 28-35. [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "Sensitivity and rapidity of vegetational response to abrupt climate change." Proc Natl Acad Sci 97 1359-1361. [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Late-Glacial to Early Holocene Climate Changes from a Central Appalachian Pollen and Macrofossil Record." Quaternary Research 51 (2): 133-147 [10.1006/qres.1998.2026] [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Humptulips revisited: a revised interpretation of Quaternary vegetation and climate of western Washington, USA." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 150 (3-4): 191-221 [10.1016/S0031-0182(98)00225-9] [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Cold reversal on Kodiak Island, Alaska, correlated with the European younger Dryas by using variations of atmospheric 14C content." Geology 26 (11): 1047-1050 [10.1130/0091-7613(1998)?026<1047:CROKIA>?2.3.CO;2] [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Oxygen isotopes in fresh water biogenic opal - Northeastern US Alleröd-Younger Dryas temperature shift." Geophysical Research Letters 25 (11): 1935-1938 [10.1029/98GL01443] [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Long-term Arctic peatland dynamics, vegetation and climate history of the Pur-Taz region, Western Siberia." Boreas 27 115-126 [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Fish scale evidence for rapid post-glacial colonization of an Atlantic coastal pond." Global Ecol Biogeogr 7 467-476 [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Antiphasing between Rainfall in Africa's Rift Valley and North America's Great Basin." Quaternary Research 50 (1): 12-20 [10.1006/qres.1998.1973] [Journal Article/Letter]

1997. "Sensitivity of northern hemisphere air temperatures and snow expansion to North Pacific sea surface temperatures in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies general circulation model." J. Geophys. Res. 102 (D20): 23781-23791 [10.1029/97JD01573] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "Global Younger Dryas?." Quaternary International 28 93-104 [10.1016/1040-6182(95)00049-O] [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "Late-glacial vegetational, tephra, and climatic history of southwestern Kodiak Island, Alaska." Ecoscience 1 255-267 [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "Wisconsinan late-glacial environmental change in southern New England: A regional synthesis." J Quaternary Sci 9 151-154 [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "Extent and Timing of the Last Glacial Maximum in Southwestern Alaska." Quaternary Research 42 (2): 136-148 [10.1006/qres.1994.1063] [Journal Article/Letter]

1993. "Late-glacial pollen, macrofossils and fish remains in northeastern U.S.A. — The Younger Dryas oscillation." Quaternary Sci Rev 12 (8): 597-612 [10.1016/0277-3791(93)90002-4] [Journal Article/Letter]

1993. "Late-Quaternary climate in the Ridge and Valley of Virginia, U.S.A.: Changes in vegetation and depositional environment." Quat Sci Rev 12 (8): 613-628 [10.1016/0277-3791(93)90003-5] [Journal Article/Letter]

1992. "The Mount Edgecumbe tephra deposits, a marker horizon in southeastern Alaska near the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary." Quaternary Research 37 (2): 183-202 [10.1016/0033-5894(92)90081-S] [Journal Article/Letter]

1991. "Postglacial migration history of lodgepole pine near Yakutat, Alaska." Can J Botany 69 786-796 [Journal Article/Letter]

1990. "Younger Dryas climatic reversal in northeastern USA? AMS ages for an old problem." Quat. Res. 33 219-230 [doi:10.1016/0033-5894(90)90020-L] [Journal Article/Letter]

1989. "Can Milankovitch orbital variations initiate the growth of ice sheets in a general circulation model?." J. Geophys. Res. 94 12851-12871 [doi:10.1029/JD094iD10p12851] [Journal Article/Letter]

1988. "Spores of Lycopodium and Selaginella of North Pacific America." Can. J. Botany 66 508-525 [doi:10.1139/b88-074] [Journal Article/Letter]

1988. "The chronology of the last deglaciation: Implications to the cause of the Younger Dryas event." Paleoceanography 3 1-19 [Journal Article/Letter]

1987. "Paleoenvironmental shift in maritime Canada parallels Europe." Trends Ecol. Evol. 2 86-87 [doi:10.1016/0169-5347(87)90162-5] [Journal Article/Letter]

1986. "The impact of cold North Atlantic sea surface temperatures on climate: Implications for the Younger Dryas cooling (11-10 k)." Clim. Dyn. 1 3-33 [doi:10.1007/BF01277044] [Journal Article/Letter]

1986. "Modern pollen rain and vegetational history of the Malaspina Glacier district, Alaska." Quat. Res. 25 1001-120 [doi:10.1016/0033-5894(86)90047-5] [Journal Article/Letter]

1985. "Terrestrial conditions at the last glacial maximum and CLIMAP sea-surface temperature estimates: Are they consistent?." Quat. Res. 24 1-22 [doi:10.1016/0033-5894(85)90080-8] [Journal Article/Letter]

1985. "Late-Quaternary climatic change on the American North Pacific Coast." Nature 315 485-487 [doi:10.1038/315485a0] [Journal Article/Letter]

1985. "Does the ocean-atmosphere system have more than one stable mode of operation?." Nature 315 21-26 [doi:10.1038/315021a0] [Journal Article/Letter]


2007. "Mid-Holocene culture and climate on the Northwest coast of North America." Climate Change and Cultural Dynamics: A Global Perspective on Mid-Holocene Transitions 491-530 [Article in Book]