Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Jeffrey P. Donnelly
Jeffrey P. Donnelly's photoJeffrey P. Donnelly
Associate Scientist w/ Tenure
Geology & Geophysics

Contact Information:
Work: 508 289 2994
Building: Clark 253

Mailing Address:
Mailstop 22
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Research Interests
The overarching goal of my research program is to understand how changes in climate have altered terrestrial and coastal systems in the recent geological past, to explore how landscape changes may have in turn impacted the climate system, and through this understanding improve our ability to project how coastal landforms and embayments will respond to future changes in these forcings. Primarily I use sedimentary and other natural archives to reconstruct past environmental conditions in order to develop a process oriented understanding of the causes and consequences of environmental change. For example, sea-level fluctuations, storms, and changing freshwater inputs play key roles in driving changes in many coastal systems, yet we know very little about how these environments respond to these multi-variant forcing mechanisms. Fortunately, all of these phenomena leave markers in the sedimentary record that we can sample and use to understand their impact through the late Holocene.

B.S. Earth Science, University of Massachusetts M.E.S. Coastal and Watershed Systems, Yale University Ph.D. Geological Sciences, Brown University


(* denotes student or postdoc first authored publication)

54) Donnelly, J.P., A.D. Hawkes, P. Lane, D. MacDonald, B.N. Shuman, M.R. Toomey, P.J. van Hengstum, Climate Forcing of Unprecedented Intense-Hurricane Activity in the Last 2,000 Years: Earth’s Future (AGU). In Press.

53) *van Hengstum, P.J., J.P. Donnelly, A.W. Kingston, B.E. William, D.B. Scott, E.G. Reinhardt, S.N. Little, W.P. Patterson, Late Holocene storminess and climate in Bermuda from a coastal submarine cave: Paleoceanography. In Press.

52) Brandon, C.M., J.D. Woodruff, J.P. Donnelly, R. Sullivan, How Unique was Hurricane Sandy? Sedimentary Reconstructions of Extreme Flooding from New York Harbor: Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 7366, doi:10.1038/srep07366

51) *Maio, C.V., A.M. Gontz, R. Sullivan, S.M. Madsen, C.R. Weidman, and J.P. Donnelly, Subsurface Geologic Signatures of Storm Driven Breaching Along a Transgressing Barrier System, Cape Cod, USA: Journal of Coastal Research (in press)

50) Kemp, A.C., C.E. Bernhardt, B.P. Horton, R.E. Kopp, C.H. Vane, W. R. Peltier, A.D. Hawkes, J.P. Donnelly, A.C. Parnell, and N. Cahill, 2014, Late Holocene sea-and land-level change on the US southeastern Atlantic coast: Marine Geology, v. 357, p. 90-100.

49) Coverdale, T.C., C.P. Brisson, E.W. Young, S.F. Yin, J.P. Donnelly, and M.D. Bertness, 2014, Indirect human impacts reverse centuries of carbon sequestration and salt marsh accretion: PloS one v. 9, no. 3: e93296.

48) *Newby, P.E., B.N. Shuman, J.P. Donnelly, K. Karnauskas, and J. Marsice, 2014, Centennial‐to‐millennial hydrologic trends and variability along the North Atlantic Coast, USA, during the Holocene: Geophysical Research Letters v. 41, no. 12, p. 4300-4307.

47) *Maio, C.V., A.M. Gontz, C.R. Weidman, and J.P. Donnelly, 2014, Late Holocene marine transgression and the drowning of a coastal forest: Lessons from the past, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 393, p. 146-158.

46) Lin, N., P. Lane, K.A. Emanuel, R.M. Sullivan, and J.P. Donnelly, 2014, Heightened hurricane surge risk in northwest Florida revealed from climatological‐hydrodynamic modeling and paleorecord reconstruction: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres v. 119, no. 14, p. 8606-8623.

45) Wallace, D.J., J.D., Woodruff, J.B. Anderson, and J.P. Donnelly, 2014, Palaeohurricane reconstructions from sedimentary archives along the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and western North Atlantic Ocean margins: Geological Society, London, Special Publications v. 388, SP388-12.

44) Donnelly, J.P., J.B. Anderson, A.D. Hawkes, E. Otvos, M.R. Toomey, P.J. van Hengstum, D. Wallace, J.D. Woodruff, 2014, COMMENT on “The geological legacy of Hurricane Irene: Implications for the fidelity of the paleo-storm record”: GSA Today, v. 24, no. 4/5, p.e28, doi: 10.1130/GSATG205C.1.

43) Kovacs, S.E., P.J. van Hengstum, E.G. Reinhardt, J.P. Donnelly, and N.A. Albury, 2013, Late Holocene sedimentation and hydrologic development in a shallow coastal sinkhole on Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas: Quaternary International, v. 317, p. 118-132.

42) *van Hengstum, P.J., J.P. Donnelly, M.R. Toomey, N.A. Albury, P. Lane, and B. Kakuk, 2013, A heightened interval of hurricane activity from 1350 to 1550 AD on the Little Bahama Bank: Continental Shelf Research (

41) Brandon, C., J.D. Woodruff, P. Lane, J.P. Donnelly, 2013, Tropical cyclone wind speed constraints from resultant storm surge deposition: A 2500 year reconstruction of hurricane activity from St. Marks, FL: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, DOI: 10.1002/ggge.20217

40) *Toomey, M.R., J.P. Donnelly, J.D. Woodruff, 2013, Reconstructing mid-late Holocene cyclone variability in the Central Pacific using sedimentary records from Tahaa, French Polynesia: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 77, p. 181-189.

39) *Carruthers, E.A., P. Lane, R.E. Evans, J.P. Donnelly, A.A. Ashton, 2013, Quantifying overwash flux in barrier systems: An example from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA: Marine Geology, v. 343, p. 15-28.

38) *Toomey, M.R., W. Curry, J.P. Donnelly, J.P., P.V. van Hengstum, 2013. Reconstructing 7000 years of North Atlantic hurricane variability using deep-sea sediment cores from the western Great Bahama Bank. Paleoceanography, v. 28, p. 31-41.

37) Gill, J.L., J.W. Williams, S.T. Jackson, J.P. Donnelly, G.C. Schellinger, 2012, Climatic and megaherbivory controls on late-glacial vegetation dynamics: a new, high-resolution, multi-proxy record from Silver Lake, Ohio: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 34, p. 66-80.

36) *Lane, P., J.P. Donnelly, J.D. Woodruff, and A. Hawkes, 2011, A decadally-resolved paleohurricane record archived in the late Holocene sediments of a Florida sinkhole: Marine Geology, v. 287, 14-30.

35) Kemp, A.C., B.P. Horton, J.P. Donnelly, M.E. Mann, M. Vermeer, and S. Rahmstorf, 2011, Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia: Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., v. 108, p. 11017-11022.

34) Kirwin, M., A.B. Murray, J.P. Donnelly, and D.R. Corbett, 2011, Rapid wetland expansion during European settlement and its implication for marsh survival under modern sediment delivery rates: Geology, v. 39, 507-510.

33) *Boldt, K.V., P. Lane, J. Woodruff, J.P. Donnelly, 2010, Calibrating a sedimentary record of overwash from Southeastern New England using modeled historic hurricane surges: Marine Geology, v. 275, p. 127-139.

32) Mann, M.E., J.D. Woodruff , J.P. Donnelly, and Z. Zhang, 2009, Atlantic hurricanes and climate over the past 1500 years: Nature, v. 460, p. 880-885.

31) *Newby, P., J.P. Donnelly, B.N. Shuman, D. MacDonald, 2009, Evidence of centennial-scale drought from southeastern Massachusetts during the Pleistocene/Holocene transition: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 28, p. 1675-1692.

30) Shuman, B.N., P. Newby, and J.P. Donnelly, 2009, Abrupt Climate Change as a Catalyst of Ecological Change in the Northeast U.S. throughout the Past 15,000 Years: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 28, p. 1693-1709.

29) *Woodruff, J.D., J.P. Donnelly, and A. Okusu, 2009, Exploring typhoon variability over the mid-to-late Holocene: Evidence of extreme coastal flooding from Kamikoshiki, Japan: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 28, p. 1774-1785.

28) Madsen A.T., G.A.T. Duller, J.P. Donnelly, H.M. Roberts, and A.G. Wintle, 2009, A chronology of hurricane landfalls at Little Sippewissett Marsh, Massachusetts, USA, using optical dating: Geomorphology v.109, 36-45..

27) *Woodruff, J.D., J.P. Donnelly, K. Emanuel, and P. Lane, 2008b, Assessing sedimentary records of paleo-hurricane activity using modeled hurricane climatology: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems v. 9, Q09V10, doi:10.1029/2008GC002043.

26) Donnelly, J.P., and L. Giosan, 2008, Tempestuous Highs and Lows in the Gulf of Mexico: Geology, v. 36, p. 751-752.

25) *Woodruff, J.D., J.P. Donnelly, D. Mohrig, and W. R. Geyer, 2008a, Reconstructing relative flooding intensities responsible for hurricane-induced deposits from Laguna Playa Grande, Vieques, Puerto Rico: Geology, v. 36, p. 391-394.

24) *Carlson, A., J. Stoner, J.P. Donnelly, and C. Hillaire-Marcel, 2008, Response of the southern Greenland Ice Sheet during the last two deglaciations: Geology, v. 3 6, p. 359-362.

23) *Ashton, A., J.P. Donnelly, and R. Evans, 2008, A discussion of the potential impacts of climate change on the shorelines of the Northeastern USA: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, v. 13, 719-743, doi: 10.1007/S11027-007-9124-3.

22) Cheung, K. F., L. Tang, J.P. Donnelly, E. Scileppi, K. Liu, X. Mao, S.H. Houston, and R.J. Murnane, 2007, Coastal Overwash Modeling in Paleotempestology: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 112, F03024, doi:10.1029/2006JF000612.

21) Donnelly, J.P., and J.D. Woodruff, 2007, Intense hurricane activity over the past 5,000 years controlled by El Nino and the West African monsoon: Nature, v. 447, p. 465-468.

20) Hill, J.C., N.W. Driscoll, J. Brigham-Grette, J.P. Donnelly, P.T. Gayes, and L. Keigwin, 2007, New evidence of very high discharge to the Chukchi shelf since the Last Glacial Maximum: Quaternary Research, v. 68, p. 271-279.

19) *Scileppi, E., and J.P. Donnelly, 2007, Sedimentary Evidence of Hurricane Strikes in Western Long Island, New York: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 8, Q06011, doi:10.1029/2006GC001463.

18) Carman M.R., S.G. Bullard, J.P. Donnelly, 2007, Water quality, nitrogen pollution, and ascidian diversity in coastal waters of southern Massachusetts, USA: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, v. 342, p. 175–178.

17) Thieler, E.R., B. Butman, W.C. Schwab, M.A. Allison, N.W. Driscoll, J.P. Donnelly, and E. Uchupi, 2007, A catastrophic meltwater flood event and the formation of the Hudson Shelf Valley: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoecology, v. 246, p. 120-136.

16) Keigwin, L., J.P. Donnelly, M.S. Cook, N. Driscoll, J. Brigham-Grette, 2006, Rapid Sea-Level Rise and Holocene Climate in the Chukchi Sea: Geology v. 34, p. 861-864.

15) Donnelly, J.P., 2006, A Revised Late Holocene Sea-Level Record for Northern Massachusetts, USA: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 22, p. 1051-1061.

14) Giosan, L., J.P. Donnelly, S. Constantinescu, F. Filip, I. Ovejanu, A. Vespremeanu-Stroe,
E.Vespremeanu, G.A.T. Duller, 2006, Young Danube delta documents stable Black Sea level since the middle Holocene: Morphodynamic, paleogeographic, and archaeological implications: Geology, v. 34, p. 757-760.

13) Shuman, B., and J.P. Donnelly, 2006, The Influence of Seasonal Precipitation and Temperature Regimes on Lake Levels in the Northeastern United States during the Holocene: Quaternary Research, v. 65, p. 44-56.

12) Donnelly, J.P., 2005, Evidence of Past Intense Tropical Cyclones from Backbarrier Salt Pond Sediments: A Case Study from Isla de Culebrita, Puerto Rico, USA: Journal of Coastal Research, SI42, p. 201-210.

11) Giosan, L., E. Vespremeanu, J.P. Donnelly, J. Bhattacharya, and F. Buonaiuto, 2005, Morphodynamics and evolution of Danube delta: Journal of Sedimentary Research, SP 83, p. 391-410.

10) Shuman, B., P. Newby, J.P. Donnelly, A. Tarbox, and T. Webb III, 2005, A Record of Late-Quaternary Moisture-Balance Change and Vegetation Response from the White Mountains, New Hampshire: Annals of American Association of Geographers, v. 95, p. 237-248.

9) Donnelly, J.P., Driscoll, N., Uchupi, E., Keigwin, L., Schwab, W., Thieler, E.R., Swift, S., 2005, Catastrophic Meltwater Discharge down the Hudson River Valley: A Potential Trigger for the Intra-AllerØd Cold Period: Geology v. 33, p. 89-92. (Research Highlight: Nature 17 February 2005 433: 702)

8) Donnelly, J.P., and Webb III, T., 2004, Backbarrier sedimentary records of intense hurricane landfalls in the northeastern United States. In: Murnane, R. and Liu, K. (eds.), Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past Present and Potential, New York: Columbia Press, pp. 58-96.

7) Donnelly, J.P., J. Butler, S. Roll, Micah Wengren, and T. Webb III, 2004, A backbarrier overwash record of intense storms from Brigantine, New Jersey: Marine Geology, v. 210, p. 107-121.

6) Donnelly, J.P., Cleary, P., Newby, P., and Ettinger, R., 2004, Coupling Instrumental and Geological Records of Sea-Level Change: Evidence from southern New England of an increase in the rate of sea-level rise in the late 19th century: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 31 L05203 doi:10.1029/2003GL018933.

5) Donnelly, J.P., and M.D. Bertness, 2001, Rapid shoreward encroachment of salt marsh cordgrass in response to accelerated sea-level rise: Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., v. 98, p. 14218-14223.

4) Donnelly, J.P., S. Roll, M. Wengren, J. Butler, R. Lederer, and T. Webb III, 2001b, Sedimentary evidence of intense hurricane strikes from New Jersey: Geology, v. 29, p. 615-618.

3) Donnelly, J.P., S. S. Bryant, J. Butler, J. Dowling, L. Fan, N. Hausmann, P. Newby, B. Shuman, J. Stern, K. Westover, and T. Webb III, 2001a, A 700-Year sedimentary record of intense hurricane landfalls in southern New England: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 113, p. 714-727. (editors’ choice: Science 8 June 2001 292: 1801)

2) Donnelly, J.P., T. Webb III, and W.L. Prell, 1999, The influence of accelerated sea-level rise, human modification and storms on a New England salt marsh: Current Topics in Wetland Biogeochemistry v. 3, p.152-160.

1) Donnelly, J.P., 1998, Evidence of late Holocene post-glacial isostatic adjustment in coastal wetland deposits of eastern North America: In: Wu, P. (ed.), Dynamics of the Ice Age Earth a Modern Perspective, Zurich: Trans Tech Publications, pp. 393-400.

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