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Glen MacDonald

Distinguished Professor and John Muir Memorial Chair

Contact Information

Email    macdonal
Office  1255 BUNCHE
Phone  51071
Climatic and Environmental Change

(Ph.D., Toronto, 1984) Distinguished Professor and Inaugural UCLA John Muir Memorial Chair in Geography. Research, teaching and public communication interests in climatic and environmental change including the impacts of human produced increases in atmospheric greenhouse gasses. Special interests in water resources and in the geography and history of the North American West.


B.A. Hons. University of California Berkeley Geography

M.Sc. University of Calgary Geography

Ph.D. University of Toronto Botany

Fields of Study

Biogeography, Physical Geography, Climate Change, Environmental Change, Human Impacts and Responses


UC Distinguished Professor 
Christensen Visiting Fellow - St. Catherine's College, Oxford 
2008 Guggenheim Fellow 
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Nov. 2006) 
Atlas Award of the UCLA Friends of Geography in recognition of his service to the Department and FOG (Nov. 2006) 
Henry C. Cowles Award for Excellence in Publication for the book "Biogeography - Space, Time and Life " published by John Wiley and Sons (2004) 
Astor Visiting Lecturer - Oxford 
Visiting Fellow and Life Member of Clare Hall - Cambridge 
University of Helsinki Medal 
Henry C. Cowles Award for Excellence in Publication (1999) 
UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award 
McMaster Teaching Excellence Award

Selected Publications

  • MacDonald, G.M., Beilman D.W. , Kuzmin, Y.V., Orlova, L.A., Kremenetski, K.V., Shapiro, B., Wayne, R.K. and Van Valkenburgh, B. 2012. Pattern of extinction of the woolly mammoth in Beringia. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1881 (PDF)
  • Pau, S. , MacDonald, G.M. and Gillespie, T.W. 2012. A Dynamic History of Climate Change and Human Impact on the Environment from Keālia Pond, Maui, Hawaiian Islands. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102, 748-762. (PDF)
  • MacDonald. G.M. 2011. Potential influence of the Pacific Ocean on the Indian summer monsoon and Harappan decline. Quaternary International 229, 140–148. (PDF)
  • MacDonald, G.M. 2010. Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America Special Feature: Water, climate change, and sustainability in the southwest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 , 21256-21262; doi:10.1073/pnas.0909651107(PDF)
  • MacDonald, G.M. 2010. Global warming and the Arctic: a new world beyond the reach of the Grinnellian niche? The Journal of Experimental Biology 213, 855-861
  • MacDonald, G.M. 2010. Some Holocene paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental perspectives on Arctic/Subarctic climate warming and the IPCC 4th Assessment Report. Journal of Quaternary Science 25, 39-47.
  • Tingstad, A.H. and MacDonald, G.M. 2010. Long-Term Relationships Between Ocean Variability and Water Resources in Northeastern Utah. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association 46, 987–1002.
  • Woodhouse, C.A., Meko, D.M., MacDonald, G.M., Stahle, D.W. and Cook, E.R. 2010. Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America Special Feature: A 1,200-year perspective of 21st century drought in southwestern North America Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, 21283-21288; doi:10.1073/pnas.0911197107
  • Beilman, D.W., MacDonald, G.M., Smith, L.C. and Reimer, P.J. 2009. Carbon accumulation in peatlands of West Siberia over the last 2000 years. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 23, GB1012, doi:10.1029/2007GB003112.
  • MacDonald G.M., Porinchu D.F., Kremenetski K.V., Rolland N., and Kaufman D.S. 2009. Paleolimnological evidence of the response of the central Canadian treeline zone to impacts of radiative forcing and hemispheric patterns of temperature change over the past 2000 years. Journal of Paleolimnology 41, 129–141 DOI 10.1007/s10933-008-9250-2.
  • MacDonald, G.M., Kremenetski, K.V. and Hidalgo, H. 2008. Southern California and the Perfect Drought: simultaneous prolonged drought in Southern California and the Sacramento and Colorado River systems. Quaternary International 188, 11-23 doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.06.027
  • MacDonald. G.M., Kremenetski, K.V., Smith, L.C. and Hidalgo, H. 2007. Recent Eurasian river discharge to the Arctic Ocean in the context of longer-term dendrohydrological records. Journal of Geophysical Research 112, G04S50, doi:10.1029/2006JG000333.
  • MacDonald, G.M. Kremenetski. K.V. and Beilman, D.W. 2007. Climate change and the northern Russian treeline zone. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. doi:10.1098/rstb.2007.2200.
  • MacDonald, G.M. 2007. Severe and sustained drought in Southern California and the west: Present conditions and insights from the past on causes and impacts, Quaternary International 173-174, 87-100 doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.03.012.
  • PERFECT DROUGHT - MacDonald, G.M., Hidalgo, H. and Rian, S. 2005. Southern California and the Perfect Drought. Published in "Colorado River Basin Climate". Special Publication of the California Department of Water Resources (PDF)
  • MacDonald, G.M., Beilman, D.W., Kremenetski, K.V., Sheng, Y., Smith, L.C. and Velichko, A.A. 2006. Rapid early development of the circumarctic peatlands and atmospheric CH4 and CO2 variations. Science, 314: 385-388. (PDF)
  • MacDonald, G.M. and Case, R.A. 2005. Variations in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation over the past millennium. Geophysical Research Letters. 32: L08703, doi10.1029/2005GL022478. (PDF)
  • Smith, L.C., Sheng, Y., MacDonald, G.M. and Hinzman, L.D. 2005. Disappearing arctic lakes. Science 308: 1429. (Discover Magazine Top 100 Science Stories of 2005) (PDF)
  • Smith, L.C., MacDonald, G.M., Velichko, A.A., Beilman, D.W., Borisova, O.K., Frey, K.A., Kremenetski, K.V., and Sheng, Y. 2004. Siberian peatlands a net carbon sink and global methane sourse since the early Holocene. Science 303: 353-356. (PDF)
  • MacDonald, G.M. 2002 Biogeography: Space, Time and Life. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 518 p. (Cowles Award Winner) (PDF)


I study climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and societies. A particular focus is drought and water resources. In recent years I have been engaged in issues of sustainability and bridging the academic, governmental and business spheres to enhance efforts in sustainability. A specific interest is strategies to sustain Californian and Southwestern agriculture, cities and ecosystems in the face of growing human demands and climate change.

I maintain very active field and laboratory research. In our lab we reconstruct past climate change and impacts through the use of fossil pollen, fossil stomates, plant macrofossils, insect remains, tree-rings, geochemistry and historical records. We also do work on issues of current and future environmental change with a focus on water scarcity. My lab facilities are relatively extensive and consist of four rooms with full facilities for pollen and plant macrofossil processing and analysis, tree-ring analysis and elementary sedimentological analysis. Field equipment includes livingstone and hiller sediment corers, tree-ring corers and chainsaws, GPS, radios, and misc. field camp supplies. Areas of active field research include California, the northern Great Plains and adjacent Rocky Mountains, the North American subarctic, Russia and Siberia and Egypt.

Grad Students

Mike Antos (Geography)

Lauren Brown (Geography)

Katie Glover (Geography)

Jordan Rosencranz (IoES)

Kate Willis (Geography)