Dr. Steffen Hetzinger

Ozeanzirkulation und Klimadynamik
FE Paläo-Ozeanographie 

Raum: 8/C-108
Telefon: +49 431 600-2314
Fax: +49 431 600-2925
E-Mail: shetzinger(at)geomar.de

Wischhofstraße 1-3
D-24148 Kiel
Anfahrt: Standort Ostufer

Research Interests

My research centers on the extraction of past environmental signals from the skeletal hard-parts of marine organisms by using various microsampling techniques in combination with stable isotope and trace elemental geochemistry. Colonies of massive-growing scleractinian (stony) corals and some coralline algal species can grow continuously for up to several hundred years allowing the development of new paleoclimate records.


Aerial view of Archipelago Los Roques, northern Venezuela
Top: X-radiography of coral core section with sampling profile (red), annual banding is visible. Bottom: coral oxygen isotopes compared to sea surface temperature (SST), monthly sampling resolution

Corals as archives of past climate change

main interests:

  • using annually banded tropical corals to develop records of past climate variability - extending the record back in time before the time period of instrument-derived observations 

  • coral-based reconstruction of Caribbean and tropical Atlantic climate and river discharge histories (Orinoco, Amazon Rivers)

  • reconstruction of past changes in surface ocean variability (e.g. temperature, salinity)  based on the analysis of coral δ18O and Sr/Ca

  • assessment of seasonal to multidecadal-scale climate variability during the past millennium 

  • developing a better understanding of long-term low-frequency variability in the Atlantic sector, for example the so-called Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV)

 Further Info: Corals as climate archives - tropical Atlantic 


RV Norseman, Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Collecting algal samples (Clathromorphum sp.) in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Coralline algae -  recorders of mid- to high latitude (extratropical) climate variability

Recent studies have shown that encrusting coralline algae of the genus Clathromorphum are among the longest-lived marine organisms described to date. Algal specimens from the central North Pacific/Bering Sea and northwestern North Atlantic are currently analyzed in order to develop sub-annual resolution, multi-century-length reconstructions of ocean climate variability.

main interests:

  • reconstruction of past SST variability and paleoclimate based on long-lived coralline algae

  • assessing past surface ocean freshwater variability in the NW-North Atlantic
    (new study in the journal "Scientific Reports"; press release)

  • interbasin linkage between northern North Pacific and North Atlantic on decadal time scales (new study - press release)

  • developing tools to reconstruct various environmental parameters using multiple geochemical proxies and algal growth records 

More info: Paleoclimate and Geobiology Research Group - University of Toronto Mississauga

Selected Publications

ResearchGate-Profile with pdfs


Chan, P., Halfar, J., Adey, W., Hetzinger, S., Zack, T., Moore, G.W.K., Wortmann, U.G., Williams, B., Hou, A., 2017, Multicentennial record of Labrador Sea primary productivity and sea-ice variability archived in coralline algal barium, Nature Communications, 8, 15543, doi:10.1038/ncomms15543 OPEN ACCESS

Hetzinger, S., Pfeiffer, M., Dullo, W.-Chr., Zinke, J. & Garbe-Schönberg, D., 2016, A change in coral extension rates and stable isotopes after El Niño-induced coral bleaching and regional stress events. Scientific Reports 6, 32879, doi:10.1038/srep32879
PRESS release

von Reumont, J., Hetzinger, S., Garbe-Schönberg, D., Manfrino, C., Dullo, W.-Chr., 2016, Impact of warming events on reef-scale temperature variability as captured in two Little Cayman coral Sr/Ca records, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, v.17, doi:10.1002/2015GC006194.

Sagar, N., Hetzinger, S., Pfeiffer, M., Masood Ahmad, S., Dullo, W.-Chr. and Garbe-Schönberg, D., 2016, High-resolution Sr/Ca ratios in a Porites lutea coral from Lakshadweep Archipelago, southeast Arabian Sea: An example from a region experiencing steady rise in the reef temperature. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans. doi:10.1002/2015JC010821

Mallela, J., Hetzinger, S., Halfar, J., 2015, Thermal stress markers in Colpophyllia natans provide an archive of site-specific bleaching events, Coral Reefs, pp. 1-6, doi:10.1007/s00338-015-1350-7

Svendsen, L., Hetzinger, S., Keenlyside, N.S., Gao, Y., 2014, Marine-based multi-proxy reconstruction of Atlantic multi-decadal variability, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 41, doi:10.1002/2013GL059076

Williams, B., Halfar, J., DeLong, K.L., Hetzinger, S., Steneck, R.S., Jacob, D.E., 2014, Multi-specimen and multi-site calibration of Aleutian coralline algal Mg/Ca to sea surface temperature, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v.139, pp. 190-204, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2014.04.006

Halfar, J., Adey, W.H,, Kronz, A., Hetzinger, S., Edinger, E., Fitzhugh, W.W., 2013, Arctic sea-ice decline archived by multicentury annual-resolution crustose coralline algal proxy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
PRESS release (deutsch)
PRESS release and Video (English)-Toronto
"Research Highlight" in NATURE, v. 503(440), doi:10.1038/503440a

Hetzinger, S., Halfar, J., Zack, T., Mecking, J.V., Kunz, B.E., Jacob, D.E., Adey, W.H., 2013, Coralline algal Barium as indicator for 20th century northwestern North Atlantic surface ocean freshwater variability, Scientific Reports, v. 3, doi:10.1038/srep01761.
PRESS release

Hetzinger, S., Halfar, J., Mecking, J.V., Keenlyside, N.S., Kronz, A., Steneck, R.S., Adey, W., Lebednik, P.A., 2012Marine proxy evidence linking decadal North Pacific and Atlantic climate, Climate Dynamics, v. 39(6), pp. 1447-1455, doi:10.1007/s00382- 011-1229-4.

Hetzinger, S., Halfar, J., Zack, T., Gamboa, G., Jacob, D.E., Kunz, B.E., Kronz, A., Adey, W., Lebednik, P.A., Steneck, R.S., 2011, High-resolution analysis of trace elements in crustose coralline algae from the North Atlantic and North Pacific by laser ablation ICP-MS, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 302(1-2), pp. 81-94, doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.06.004.

Hetzinger, S., Pfeiffer, M., Dullo, W.-Chr., Garbe-Schönberg, D., Halfar, J., 2010, Rapid 20th century warming in the Caribbean and impact of remote forcing on climate in the northern tropical Atlantic as recorded in a Guadeloupe coral, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 296(1-2), pp. 111-124, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.06.019

Hetzinger, S., Pfeiffer, M., Dullo, W.-Chr., Keenlyside, N., Latif, M., and Zinke, J., 2008, Caribbean coral tracks Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and past hurricane activity, Geology, v. 36, no. 1, p. 11-14, doi:10.1130/G24321A.1
- Selected as „Research Highlight“ by Nature Geoscience - (2008, v. 1, p. 83, doi:10.1038/ ngeo123)

Hetzinger, S., Pfeiffer, M., Dullo, W.-Chr., Ruprecht, E., and Garbe-Schönberg, D., 2006, Sr/Ca and d18O in a fast-growing Diploria strigosa coral: Evaluation of a new climate archive for the tropical Atlantic, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, v. 7(10), doi:10.1029/2006GC001347.

 complete list of Publications and conference contributions (Ocean-Rep)





Coral data:

Hetzinger et al. 2008 (Geology) - Los Roques, Venezuela: 90-year monthly coral d18O record

Hetzinger et al. 2006 (G-cubed) - Guadeloupe, 41-year monthly coral d18O and Sr/Ca data

Hetzinger et al. 2010 (PALEO3) - Guadeloupe, 104-year monthly coral d18O and Sr/Ca data

Coralline Algal records:

Hetzinger et al. 2009 (PALAIOS) - Amchitka Island, Alaska: 65-year Coralline Alga Mg/Ca data

Hetzinger et al. 2012 (Climate Dynamics) - Amchitka Island, Alaska: 150-year Coralline Alga Mg/Ca record

Halfar et al. 2011 (Geology) - Aleutian Islands 225 Year Coralline Algae Growth Increment Data



Petroleum Geology - SS 2012

Slides - May 4th lecture (password protected)

Slides - May 11th lecture (password protected)

Einführung in die Methoden der Stratigraphie

Slides - January 7th lecture (password protected)

Slides - January 14th lecture (password protected)