Darrell Kaufman, PhD

Darrell Kaufman, PhD
Regents’ Professor of Geology





Subject-matter expertise

  • Past climate and environmental changes.
  • Lake and glacial sediments.
  • Geologic dating methods.


For the last 20 years, Dr. Darrell Kaufman has been studying the geological evidence of past climate changes in Alaska and elsewhere in the western U.S.

His research focuses on environmental changes, particularly those related to the paleoclimate, which shaped the Earth's surface during the Quaternary Period (the most recent geological period of time in Earth’s history, spanning the last two million years and extending up to the present day), in an effort to understand present and future climate changes.

His particular focus is on lake and glacial deposits that provide an archive of long-term climate variability. He has served as the guest editor for two special issues of the Journal of Paleolimnology (2009 and 2012), both dedicated to inferring past climate and environmental changes from Arctic lake sediment. In 2009, he co-edited a Special Paper of the Geological Society of America on Bear Lake, Idaho/Utah focusing on the same topic.

Dr. Kaufman oversees the amino acid geochronology laboratory, which is supported as a shared facility through the National Science Foundation, and he is involved in many studies aimed at understanding the timing, rates, and regional extent of paleoclimatic changes. He has a strong emphasis in field geology, because accurate dating of geologic deposits is predicated on understanding the geologic context of the materials.

Currently Dr. Kaufman has an externally-funded research program in Alaska.

He recently led an international team of scientists through a five-year study placing recent warming trends in the Arctic in the context of long-term climate change. Kaufman, along with Northern Arizona University students and researchers from more than a dozen universities, reconstructed 2,000 years of Arctic summer temperatures using the natural archives of tree rings, glacier ice, and lake sediments from locations across the Arctic.

He is now expanding this effort globally through his work with the Past Global Changes (PAGES) program office in Switzerland. Dr. Kaufman is the coordinating author of a major new compilation of 2,000-year-long temperature reconstructions from around the world.


  • Kaufman, D. S., Axford, Yarrow R., Anderson, Scott, Lamoureux, Scott F., Schindler, Daniel E., Walker, Ian R. and Werner, Al. “Amulti-proxy record of the Last Glacial Maximum and last 14,500 years ofpaleoenvironmental change at Lone Spruce Pond, southwestern Alaska.” Journal of Paleolimnology 48, no. 1 (2012): 9-26.
  • Kaufman, D.S. “Holocene paleoenvironmental records from Arctic lake sediment.” Journal of Paleolimnology 41 (2012): 1-8.
  • Kaufman, Darrell S., Schneider, David P., McKay, Nicholas P., Ammann, Caspar M., Bradley, Raymond S., Briffa, Keith R., Miller, Gifford H., Otto-Bliesner, Bette L., Overpeck, Jonathan T., Vinther, Bo M. and  Members. “RecentWarming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling.” Science 325, no. 5945 (2009): 1236-1239.
  • Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman, D.S., eds. “A quarter-million years of paleoenvironmental change at Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho.” Geological Society of America Special Paper: Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment 450 (2009): 311-351.
  • Kaufman, D.S., Ager, T.A., Anderson, N.J., Anderson, P.M., Andrews, J.T., Bartelein, P.J., Burbaker, L.B., Coats, L.L., Cwynar, L.C., Duval, M.L., Dyke, A.S., Edwards, M.E., Eiser, W.R., Gajewski, K., Geisodottir, A., Hu, F.S., Jennings, A.E., Kaplan, M.R., Kewin, M.W., Lozhkin, A.V., MacDonald, G.M., Miller, G.H., Mock, C.J., Oswald, W.W., Otto-Blisner, B.L., Porinchu, D.F., Ruhland, K., Smol, J.P., Steig, E.J., Wolfe, B.B. “Holocenethermal maximum in the western Arctic (0-180° W).” Quaternary Science Reviews 23 (2004): 529-560.

Completelist of Dr. Kaufman’s publications.

Awards and recognition

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Instrumentation and Facilities grant: Amino Acid Geochronology Laboratory, 2004-2016.
  • NSF Arctic Natural Sciences research grant: Collaborative research on resolving centennial-to-millennial-scale trends in glacier extent and lake sedimentation in the Brooks Range, Arctic Alaska, 2011-15.
  • NSF Arctic System Science grant: A postdoctoral scientist to synthesize proxy records of Arctic Holocene climate, 2011-2013.
  • NSF Arctic System Science grant: Collaborative research (Kaufman lead, 12-PI, $2.5M project) on nonlinearities in the Arctic climate system during the Holocene, 2010-13.
  • NSF Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change grant: Coupled glacial and lacustrine evidence for decadal- to millennial-scale variability in the climatologic Aleutian low, southern Alaska, 2008-2012.
  • Promoted to Regents’ Professor, 2012.
  • Professor of the Year, College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences, 2011.
  • Most Significant Scholarly Work, Northern Arizona University, 2010.

Complete list of Dr. Kaufman’s grants.

Special groups and committees

  • Steering Committee, Northern Arizona University Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals, Tribal Climate Change Adaptation.
  • Panel Member, proposal reviews, NSF Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change.
  • Council Member, American Quaternary Association.
  • Project Leader, “Nonlinearities in the Arctic climate system during the Holocene.”
  • Co-editor, Quaternary Geochronology.


  • BA, Environmental Studies/BS, Earth Sciences, University of California – Santa Cruz, 1982
  • MS, Geological Sciences, University of Washington, 1987
  • PhD, Geological Sciences, University of Colorado – Boulder, 1991