NEW - Lake E in Science!

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and chronology of geologic systems that record the climate evolution and sea level history of the Arctic since the mid-Pliocene. Most of my research program is aimed at documenting the global context of paleoenvironmental change across “Beringia”, i.e., the Bering Land Bridge, stretching across the western Arctic from Alaska and the Yukon into NE Russia including the adjacent marginal seas.  Starting 3 decades ago with fieldwork on the sea level history and glacial stratigraphy of vast Arctic coastal plains and coastal environments in comparison with regional alpine glaciation, I am now focused on the integration of records from marine and lacustrine systems.

Since 1991, my group has participated in nine field expeditions to remote regions of Arctic Russia and I was co-chief scientist in 2002 of an expedition on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, taking sediment cores from the Bering and Chukchi Seas. I am the US Chief Scientist of the El’gygytgyn Lake Scientific Drilling project, a $10M multinational field program leading to the first unprecedented recovery in 2009 of a 3.6 Myr record of paleoclimate from the terrestrial Arctic. This work involves collaborators in Germany, Russian and Austria but includes Rob DeConto, Steve Burns, Laurie Brown and Isla Castenada, here at home.   At all levels we aim to blend proxy records with modeling efforts where possible.  In collaboration with Steve Petsch, Brigham-Grette is also PI on a grant to develop sea ice proxies and records of paleoceanography across the Arctic-Pacific gateway.  

Since 2005, I have collaborated with colleagues at Bates, Mt Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges along side Northern Illinois University with the effective implementation of an REU program on Svalbard tidewater glaciers and lake systems.  At home, I maintain an interest in the late Pleistocene paleoclimatic history and drainage record of Glacial Lake Hitchcock and the Holocene evolution of the Connecticut River.  Exploring ahead, I have future interests in IODP/ICDP drilling in the Bering Strait and at the margins of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

Current Projects


  • Paleoceanography and Sea Level history of the Bering and Chukchi Seas

Polar Education

Courses Taught

Recent Publications (Chronological by Topic)

Lake El’gygytgyn Science
(see also forthcoming special issue of Climate of the Past 2012)
Melles, M., Brigham-Grette, J., Minyuk, P., and others. (in press, June 2012). 2.8 Million Years of Arctic Climate Change from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia. Science.

Melles, M., Brigham-Grette, J., Minyuk, P, and Koeberl, with Andrej Andreev, Tim Cook, Grigory Fedorov, Catalina Gebhardt, Eeva Haltia-Hovi, Maaret Kukkonen, Norbert Nowaczyk, Georg Schwamborn, Volker Wennrich, and El´gygytgyn Scientific Party, 2011. The Lake El’gygytgyn Scientific Drilling Project – Conquering Arctic Challenges in Continental Drilling, Scientific Drilling 11, 29-40.

Swann, G.E.A., Leng, M.L., Juschus, O., Melles, M., Brigham-Grette, J., Sloane, H.J., 2010. A combined oxygen and silicon diatom isotope record of rapid paleoenvironmental change in Lake El’gygytgyn, North East Siberia. Quaternary Science Reviews 29 (5-6), 774-786.

Brigham-Grette, J. Melles, M., Minyuk, P., Koeberl, C., 2010. The Thrill to Drill in the Chill. EARTH vol. 55 (7), 48-55 (also on the web, July 2010, at

Brigham-Grette, J. Melles, M., Minyuk, P., Koeberl, C., and Scientific party, 2009, Lake El’gygytgyn’s emerging IPY record of Pliocene to recent Arctic Change, PAGES News, v. 17(1), 19-21.

Brigham-Grette J., Martin Melles, Pavel Minyuk (Guest Editors), 2007, Arctic Record of the Last 250 ka from El'gygytgyn Crater J. of Paleolimnology 37(1) 1-162.

  • Cherapanova, M.V., Snyder, J.A., and Brigham-Grette, J., 2007. Diatom Stratigraphy of the last 250 ka at Lake El’gygytgyn, northeast Sbieria, Paleolimnology. 37(1), 155-162.

Bering Strait Region
Caissie, B.E., Brigham-Grette, J., Lawrence, K., Herbert, T. and Cook, M.S., 2010. Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene Sea Surface Condition at Umnak Plateau, Bering Sea as inferred from Diatom, Alkenone, and Stable Isotope Records, Paleoceanography 25. doi:10.1029/2008PA001671, (Caissie’s MSc Research).

Hill, J. C., Driscoll, N., Brigham-Grette, J, Donnelly J.P., Gayes, PT, Keigwin, L., 2007, New evidence for high discharge to the Chukchi shelf since the Last Glacial Maximum, Quaternary Research 68, 271-278.

Keigwin, L. D., Donnelly J.P., Cook M.E., Driscoll N.W., Brigham-Grette, J., 2006, Rapid sea-level rise and Holocene climate in the Chukchi Sea, Geology 34; no. 10; p. 861–864

Brigham-Grette, J., Lozhkin, AV, Anderson, PM., and Glushkova, Oyu. , 2004, Paloenvironmental Conditions in Western Beringia before and during the Last Glacial Maximum in Madsen, D.B., editor, Entering America: Northeast Asia and Beringia before the Last Glacial Maximum, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake UT,. Chapter 2, pg. 29-61

Syntheses- Arctic and others
Brigham-Grette, J. 2009. Contemporary Arctic Change: A paleoclimate deja vu?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 106, number 44, Pages 18431-18432.

Alley R.B., Andrews, J.T., Brigham-Grette, J., Clarke, G.K.C., Cuffey, K.M., Fitzpatrick, J.J., Funder, S., Marshall, S.J., Miller, G.H., Mitrovica, J.X., Muhs, D.R., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Polyak, L, White, J.W.C., 2010, History of the Greenland Ice Sheet: Paleoclimatic insights. Quaternary Science Reviews. 9, Issues 15-16, July 2010, Pages 1728-1756

Miller, G.H., Alley, R.B., Brigham-Grette, J., Fitzpatrick, J.J., Polyak, L., Serreze, M. and White, J.W.C., 2010, Arctic Amplification: can the past constrain the Future. Quaternary Science Reviews. 29, Issues 15-16, July 2010, Pages 1779-1790

Miller, G.H, Brigham-Grette, J., Anderson, L., Bauch, H., Douglas, M.A., Edwards, M.E., Elias, S., Finney, B., Funder, S., Herbert, T., Hinzman, L., Kaufman, D.K., MacDonald, G., Robock, A., Serreze, M., Smol, J., Spielhagen, R., Wolfe, A.P., Wolff, E., 2010: Temperature and Precipitation History of the Arctic. Quaternary Science Reviews 29, Issues 15-16, July 2010, Pages 1679-1715

Polyak, L., Alley, R.B, Andrews, J. T., Brigham-Grette, J., Cronin, T. D., Darby, D., Dyke, A., Fitzpatrick, J J., Funder, S., Holland, M., Jennings, A., Miller, G.H., O’Regan, M., Savelle, J., Serreze, St John, K., White, J. W.D., Wolff, E., 2010: History of Sea Ice in the Arctic. Quaternary Science Reviews, 29, Issues 15-16, July 2010, Pages 1757-1778

White, J.W.C., Alley, R.B., Brigham-Grette, J., Fitzpatrick, J.J., Jennings, A.E., Johnson, S.J., Miller, G.H., Neren, R.S., Polyak, L., 2010, Past Rates of Climate Change in the Arctic, Quaternary Science Reviews 29, Issues 15-16, July 2010, Pages 1716-1727

Brigham-Grette, J. Powell, R.D., Newman, L., and Kiefer, T. (editors), 2009, Change at the Poles: A Paleoscience perspective, PAGES News, v. 17(1), January 2009, 48 pgs. (includes editorial section)

Brigham-Grette, J, and Haug, Gerald. 2007. Climate Dynamics and Global Environments: A community vision for the next decade in ICDP, In Ulrich Harms, Christian Koeberl and Mark D. Zoback (editors), Continental Scientific Drilling: a decade of progress, and challenges for the Future, Springer Berlin Heidelberg New York, pg. 53-94.

CAPE Last Interglacial Project Members, 2006, Last Interglacial Arctic Warmth Confirms Polar Amplification of Climate Change, Quaternary Science Reviews 25, 1383–1400. (JBG among Project members)

Otto-Bliesner, B.L., S. J. Marshall, J. T. Overpeck, G. H. Miller, A. Hu, and CAPE Last Interglacial Project Members, 2006, Simulating Warm-Arctic Climate and Ice Sheet Sensitivity for the Last Interglaciation, Science 311, 1751-1753., (JBG among Project members)

Svalbard REU
Kehrl, L. M., Hawley, R. L. Powell R. D., Brigham-Grette, J. 2011. Glacimarine sedimentation processes at Kronebreen and Kongsvegen Glaciers, Svalbard. J. Glaciology 57 (205), 841-847. (lead author is student from our 2009 REU program)

Trusel, L., D., Cumpston, R. M., Powell, R. D., & Brigham-Grette, J., 2010, Modern Glacimarine Processes and Potential Future Behaviour of Kronebreen and Kongsvegen Polythermal Tidewater Glaciers, Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. The Geological Society of London Special Publication: Fjord Depositional Systems and Archives. v. 344, 89-102. (lead authors are students from our 2005 REU program).

Past Projects

Wrangel Island with Lyn Gualtieri

Bering Land Bridge Glacial history