Dr. Michael Deininger

Palaeoclimate Dynamics

Average annual daily precipitation on Earth for the period from 1979 to 2015 CE. Graphics: Michael Deininger, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.


A drilled core from a flowstone. Photo credits: Michael Deininger

My research is focused on atmospheric dynamics and its interactions with the climate system, particularly with the ocean circulation, on seasonal to geologic time scales. Earth’s climate system is the promoter to balance the meridional temperature gradients between the tropical and polar regions. To achieve this the different components of the climate system, the atmospheric and ocean circulation, transport energy towards the poles. The atmospheric circulation is furthermore responsible for the distribution of water that results in the heterogeneous pattern of precipitation. Therefore, the variability of the atmospheric circulation and its promoters are crucial parameter of Earth’s system, changing precipitation pattern over land and ocean.

A candle-shaped stalagmite. Photo credits: Andrea Borsato.

To resolve past changes of the atmospheric circulation I primarily work with speleothems: speleothems are inorganic carbonate deposits growing in caves. Speleothems form from cave waters, and their proxies allow to recover information on climatological, hydrological and environmental variations above the cave that in turn allow deduce changes of the atmospheric circulation and Earth’s climate system, respectively. My primary focus is to investigate inter-hemispheric changes of climate and environmental variations in Europe and South America in the late Quaternary (the last 600,000 years) and its synchronicity, to unveil the underlying causes and mechanism. Another important aspect of my work is the search for old speleothems that grew during Pliocene, which is the latest time period on Earth when the atmospheric CO2 concentration was 400 ppm.

Job opportunities: there are open bachelor and master positions.

Ongoing projects:

Palaeoclimate Dynamics

  • Mediterranean Climate Change during the Holocene (with Andrea Borsato, Silvia Frisia, Marco Vattano, Norbert Frank and Frank McDermott)
  • Late Quaternary Climate and Environmental Dynamics in Europe, Swabian Alp, Germany (with Wolfgang Ufrecht)
  • Late Quaternary Climate and Environmental Dynamics and Human Settlement on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (with Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)
  • Inter-hemispheric Palaeoclimate Dynamics during the Holocene (with Frank McDermott, Francisco Cruz and Manfred Mudelsee)
  • The South American Monsoon System during the Quaternary (with Francisco Cruz)
  • European Climate Change and Cultural Developments during the Holocene (with Jörg Lippold, Frank McDermott, Manfred Mudelsee and Jörg Pross)
  • The Quest for Old Speleothems (with Jon Woodhead, Frank McDermott and Francisco Cruz)

Climate Dynamics

  • Extra-tropical Modes of the Atmospheric Circulation (with Frank McDermott)
  • Meridional Temperature Gradients and Climate (with Frank McDermott)

Method and Proxy Development

  • Statistical Methods in Palaeoclimatology (with Manfred Mudelsee)
  • Proxy System Modelling (with Andy Baker and Pauline Treble)
  • Quaternary Geochronology (with Jon Woodhead and Frank McDermott)


10/2017 – present

Institute of Geosciences, University of Mainz, Germany, Postdoctoral Researcher. Group Leader Prof. Denis Scholz.

10/2015 – 09/2017 UCD School of Earth Sciences, University College Dublin, Ireland, Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow. Group Leader Prof. Frank McDermott.

01/2014 – 09/2015

Institute of Environmental Physics and Institute of Earth Sciences, Heidelberg University, Germany, Postdoctoral Researcher. Group Leader Prof. Norbert Frank.

12/2010 – 12/2013

Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Heidelberg, Germany, PhD student in the DFG research group 668, daphne. Group Leader Prof. Augusto Mangini.

12/2008 – 12/2010

Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Heidelberg, Germany, Graduate Research Assistant. Group leader Prof. Augusto Mangini.

02/2004 – 08/2005 HILTI Entwicklungsgesellschaft MbH, Kaufering, Germany, Student Trainee.


12/2013    PhD (grade: magna cum laude), Heidelberg University. Thesis title: The European Holocene Climate from the Speleothem's View. Advisor: Prof. Augusto Mangini, Prof. Werner Aeschbach- Hertig
04/2010  Diploma, Physics (grade: 1.0). Thesis title: Climate archive Stalagmite Modelling of Formation Processes and Reconstruction of Palaeoclimate Parameter. Advisor: Prof. Augusto Mangini, Prof. Werner Aeschbach-Hertig.
2006 – 2010 Graduate student, Physics, Heidelberg University, Germany.
2004 – 2006 Undergraduate student, Physics, University of Augsburg, Germany.
2003 – 2004 Undergraduate student, Applied Physics, Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany.
2001 – 2003 Upper vocational school (Berufsoberschule) Kaufbeuren, Germany.
1998 – 2001 Apprenticeship (IHK) as an electronic technician (grade: very good). HILTI GmbH, Kaufering, Germany.