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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

Matthew Lachniet In The News

Feb 1, 2018

Coming out of the last glacial period, there was a sudden climate reversal observed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the Earth. The cause of these changes during this interval so enigmatic, so much so, the interval was informally referred to as the “Mystery Interval.” Many large shifts in climates in the past seem to be synchronized with climate in the poles as expressed in ice core records.

Jul 5, 2017

The effects of global climate change are being felt in the West’s continuing drought, according to a panel discussion at UNLV last week. Wildfires have increased over the last several years, something one of Colby Pelligrino’s mentors told her years ago would show that climate change is legitimate.

Jun 9, 2017

A thaw is underway in Russia, and it has nothing to do with presidential politics. Inside a cave in Russia's Ural Mountains, where Europe and Asia meet, a team of UNLV researchers has found evidence of steady warming since the end of the last ice age.

Jun 1, 2017

Global warming has been going on for thousands of years.

That’s from a new academic article by a team that includes UNLV geoscientists, one of whom spent months in Russia gathering rare stalagmite samples that were later tested in a lab.

Articles Featuring Matthew Lachniet

Jonathan Baker and colleagues examine stalagmite in a cave
May 22, 2017
Campus News

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
Oct 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.

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