Sean Birkel

Climate Change InstituteClimate Reanalyzer


I am a research scientist with expertise in climate and ice sheet modeling.  My various research interests include modern environmental change, pleistocene glaciation, data visualization, and Maine historical climatology.  Since early 2012, I have been building Climate Reanalyzer, a website that provides access to climate and weather models, and historical station data.  I am also helping to develop Climate Adaptation and Sustainility (CLAS) software for the University of Maine and the Climate Change Institute.  Current funded NSF research projects include climate and cryosphere modeling studies of Greenland, Alaska, and Patagonia.  Other modeling projects include characterizing recent changes in circulation across the Southern Hemisphere, and reconstructing paleo climate and hydrology of the western U.S. and central Asia.  In recent years I have been part of paleoglacier field research in the Wind River Range, WY and Sierra Nevada, CA.


  • Mayewski, P.A., Sneed, S.B., Birkel, S.D., Kurbatov, A.V. and Maasch, K.A., 2014. Holocene warming marked by abrupt onset of longer summers and reduced storm frequency around Greenland. Journal of Quaternary Science, 29(1), p. 99-104, DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2684.
  • Bromley, G.R., Putnam, A.E., Rademaker, K.M., Lowell, T.V., Schaefer, J.M., Hall, B., Winckler, G, Birkel, S.D., Borns, H.W., 2014. Younger Dryas deglaciation of Scotland driven by warming summers. Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(17), p. 6215-9, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321122111.
  • Koffman, B.G., Kreutz, K.J., Breton, D.J., Kane, E.J., Winski, D.A., Birkel, S.D., Kurbatov, A.V., Handley, M.J., 2013. Centennial-scale shifts in the position of the Southern Hemisphere westerly wind belt over the past millennium. Climate of the Past Discussions, 01/2013; 9:3125-3174. DOI:10.5194/cpd-9-3125-2013.
  • Putnam, A.E., Schaefer, J.M., Denton, G.H., Barrell, D.J., Birkel, S.D., Andersen, B.G., Kaplan, M.R., Finkel, R.C., Schwartz, R., Doughty, A.M., 2013. The last local glacial maximum at 44°S documented by a 10BE moraine chronology at Lake Ohau, Southern Alps of New Zealand. Journal of Quaternary Science Reviews, 62, p. 114-141, DOI:10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.10.034.
  • Birkel, S.D., Putnam, A.E., Denton, G.H., Koons, P.O., Fastook, J.L., Putnam, D.E., Maasch, K.A., 2012. Climate inferences from a glaciological reconstruction of the Late Pleistocene Wind River Ice Cap, Wind River Range, Wyoming. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 44(3), p. 265-276.


  • Birkel, S.D., Maasch, K.A., Oglesby, R.J., Fulginiti, L.E., Trindade, F., Hays, C., 2012. Changes in water and wind resources across the central and northeastern U.S. 2060-2010 in 24 km WRF downscale climate simulations. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA (poster session).
  • Birkel, S.D., Maasch, K.A., Oglesby, R.J., Mayewski, P.A., Rowe, C., Koons, P.O., Hays, C., 2011. A downscaled multi-domain WRF model climate forecast for the northeastern and central U.S. for 2050-2054. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA (poster session).
  • Birkel, S.D., Putnam, A.E., Schaefer, J., Denton, G.H., Quesada, P., Koons, P.O., 2011. Glaciological reconstruction of Pleistocene glaciers in the Wind River Range, USA and Southern Alps, New Zealand. International Union for Quaternary Research, Bern, Switzerland (poster session).
  • Birkel, S.D., Maasch, K.A., Mayewski, P.A., Koons, P.O., 2011. Predicting future climate at high resolution over the northeastern U.S. and elsewhere using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. 19th Annual Harold W. Borns Jr. Symposium, Orono, ME, USA (oral presentation 4/7/2011).
  • Birkel, S.D., Koons, P.O., Pingree, K.A., Segee, B.E., Zhu, Y., Schauffler, M., 2009.  Simple climate model and web interface for inquiry-based learning at middle and high school grade levels. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA (poster session).
  • Birkel, S.D., Koons, P.O., and Fastook, J.L., 2008. Climatic implications of the mechanical collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA (oral presentation).
  • Dieffenbacher-Krall, A.C., Birkel, S.D., Borns, H.W., Cwynar, L., Doner, L.A., Fastook, J.L., Jacobson, G.L., Chase Langley, G.E., Nurse, A.M, Sayles, C., 2008. A multi-proxy reconstruction of Younger Dryas environmental conditions in Northern Maine and the validity of chironomid-inferred temperatures. New England Geological Society of America Spring Meeting, Buffalo, NY, USA.
  • Hughes, T.J., Birkel, S.D., 2008. Glaciology of the Bottleneck. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet Initiative (WAIS) Fall Meeting, Sterling, VA, USA.

PhD. Dissertation

  • Birkel, S.D., 2010. Climate investigations using ice sheet and mass balance models with emphasis on North American glaciation. Ph. D. dissertation, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA.


My favorite pastimes are hiking and Nature Photography.


PhD., 2010, University of Maine, Orono, ME