Matthew Lachniet

Expertise: Climate Change, Quaternary Geology, Paleoclimatology


Matthew Lachniet, a professor in the department of geoscience, focuses on understanding the controls on Earth’s climate on time scales ranging from seasonal to hundreds of thousands of years, with a particular focus on tropical, desert southwest, and arctic past climates. These data inform understanding of modern and anthropogenic climate change.

Lachniet uses light stable and radiogenic isotope geochemistry, hydrology, speleology, glacial geology, geomorphology, and the sedimentary record to answer questions of paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic change. His primary research areas are Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Alaska, and the Great Basin. His research goal is to constrain past climate changes in these regions using proxy records. He is particularly interested in generating rainfall histories for Central America and to evaluate the climate forcings of climate change and variability in the neotropics.


  • B.S., Geology, Antioch College
  • M.S., Geology, Michigan State University
  • Ph.D., Geology, Syracuse University

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Matthew Lachniet In The News

January 31, 2019
Forty-two centuries ago, the flourishing Akkadian Empire—spread across modern-day Iraq, Turkey, and Syria—suddenly disappeared. Paleoclimatologists and other geoscientists now have one possible explanation for why. Using precisely age dated chemical measurements from a stalagmite collected in a cave in Iran, researchers found an abrupt uptick in dust at that point in history. This heightened dust activity, which persisted for 300 years, might have made for uncomfortable living conditions and difficulties in farming, the researchers suggest.
KSNV-TV: News 3
November 30, 2018
Professor Matt Lachniet spends hours looking for clues. This Thursday, he shows us samples in his laboratory of stalagmites from Nevada caves. Some are thousands of years old, pointing to a time when this desert was actually hotter and drier, which coincides with a time when the oceans we now call the Pacific and the Arctic were warmer.
November 29, 2018
The latest national climate assessment captures the future impacts of a warming planet more completely than reports that have come before it, UNLV geology professor Matt Lachniet says.
Thoi Bao
October 30, 2018
Recent research by scientists indicates that carbon dioxide levels on Earth have peaked in the past 15 million years.

Articles Featuring Matthew Lachniet

ResearchNovember 28, 2018
Climate change researcher Matt Lachniet explains the impacts of hotter temperatures.
Jonathan Baker and colleagues examine stalagmite in a cave
Campus NewsMay 22, 2017
UNLV Ph.D. candidate’s research in Russia challenges widely held understanding of past climate history; study appears in latest issue of top journal Nature Geoscience.
Matthew Lachniet studies stalagmites
ResearchOctober 15, 2015
UNLV geoscience professor exploring the links between wet conditions starting 5,000 years ago and weather events such as El Niño in the Desert Southwest.
ResearchMay 2, 2014
UNLV-led research team takes to ancient Nevada caves to counter prevailing theory of what drives Great Basin climate; findings reported in Nature Communications.