Joanne Muller is a professor in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences in The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University. Muller’s current research interests center on past climate change in tropical and sub-tropical latitudes with a special focus on the Southwest Florida region.
Areas of Expertise (6)
Sea Level Rise
Women in STEM
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Sir Keith Murdoch and Comer Postdoctoral Fellow 2009
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University: Ph.D. Research Student and Tutor in Marine Science 2007
James Cook University, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences: Ph.D. 2007
James Cook University, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences: B.Sc. (Honors) 2003
University of Technology: B.Sc., Earth Sciences 2002
- Geological Society of America
- American Association of Geographers
- American Geophysical Union
- American Metereological Society
Selected Media Appearances (12)
Paleoclimatologists seek clues about hurricanes in ocean sediment as Florida rebuilds after Ian
Joanne Muller shows how she and her students are coring in Estero Bay to look for sediment left by Hurricane Ian.
Subtle shifts in Gulf Stream activity could lead to stronger hurricanes
Joanne Muller discusses climate change and the Gulf Stream.
Southwest Florida is overdue for devastating storm surge
Fox 4 tv
Joanne Muller discusses hurricanes and storm surge.
Is climate change in Southwest Florida to blame for one storm spawning seven tornadoes?
Is climate change in Southwest Florida to blame for one storm spawning seven tornadoes? radio
Joanne Muller explains the correlation between tornadoes and climate change.
Climate change is making hurricanes more dangerous, scientists say
Joanne Muller explains why a warming climate is making hurricanes more dangerous.
Future hurricanes may be more powerful, scientists warn
Joanne Muller expects hurricane intensity to increase.
Florida hurricanes predicted by scientist with unique technique
Fox News tv
Joanne Muller discusses her coring technique with Fox News.
This scientist is digging into the history of Florida’s hurricanes
New York Post online
Joanne Muller discusses her coring technique.
The U.S. saw record flooding last year - could SWFL also be impacted?
Joanne Muller discusses "sunny day" flooding.
Combination of storm surge, high tide an issue for SWFL coast
ABC 7 tv
Joanne Muller is quoted talking about the impact of Hurricane Michael on the Southwest Florida coastline.
Sinking Cities: Miami
Joanne Muller is interviewed about the impacts of climate change on Miami's beachfront.
Local efforts modest in dealing with a warming planet
Charlotte County Florida Weekly print
Joanne Muller talks about her research into the past climate change in tropical latitudes.
Selected Event Appearances (2)
Using the geologic record to determine long-term trends in hurricane landfalls along the west Florida coastline
5th International Summit on Hurricanes and Climate Change, Chania, Greece, 2015
Intense Southwest Florida Hurricane Strikes over the Past 1,000 Years, (C06-P26)
XIX International Union for Quaternary Research, Nagoya, Japan, 2015
Selected Research Grants (3)
A Multi-step Method for Extending the Hurricane Record Back in Time to Obtain More Representative Return Period Calculations for East Florida Communities
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $193,061
2018 - 2020 Muller, J., and Collins, J.
Reconstructing the History of Hurricane Landfalls in Southwest Florida over the Past 5,000 Years
National Science Foundation – Marine Geology and Geophysics Program $177,194
2013-2015 Muller, J., and Collins, J.
Past Dynamics of the Indonesian Throughflow
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Tropical Research Initiative $93,000
2008 - 2010 McManus, J.F., Muller, J., and Toole, J.
Selected Articles (3)
Recent Advances in the Emerging Field of PaleotempestologyHurricanes and Climate Change
Joanne Muller, Jennifer M Collins, Samantha Gibson, Leilani Paxton
2017 Roughly 35 % of the world’s 7.4 billion people are in the path of tropical cyclones, and coastal populations are expected to increase in the coming century. To understand the future damage that tropical cyclones could impose on an ever-growing coastal population, it is critically important to better understand the relationships between tropical cyclones and climate. Large-scale features of the climate system have been shown to affect tropical cyclone activity, for example, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has been shown to influence tropical cyclone frequency in all oceanic basins on seasonal, yearly, and decadal timescales. However, the relatively short observational record (
Intense Southwest Florida Hurricane Landfalls Over the Past 1,000 YearsQuaternary Science Reviews
Ercolani, C., Muller, J., Collins, J., Savarese, M. Squiccimara, L.
2015 Recent research has proposed that human-induced sea surface temperature (SST) warming has led to an increase in the intensity of hurricanes over the past 30 years. However, this notion has been challenged on the basis that the instrumental record is too short and unreliable to reveal long-term trends in hurricane activity. This study addresses this limitation by investigating hurricane-induced overwash deposits (paleotempestites) behind a barrier island in Naples, FL, USA. Paleotempestologic proxies including grain size, percent calcium carbonate, and fossil shells species were used to distinguish overwash events in two sediment cores spanning the last one thousand years. Two prominent paleotempestites were observed in the top 20 cm of both cores: the first identified as Hurricane Donna in 1960 whereas an older paleotempestite (1900–1930) could represent one of three documented storms in the early 1900s. An active period of hurricane overwash from 1000 to 500 yrs. BP and an inactive period from 500 to 150 yrs. BP correlate with reconstructed SSTs from the Main Development Region (MDR) of the North Atlantic Ocean. We observe an increased number of paleotempestites when MDR SSTs are warmer, coinciding with the Medieval Warm Period, and very few paleotempestites when MDR SSTs are cooler, coinciding with the Little Ice Age. Results from this initial Southwest Florida study indicate that MDR SSTs have been a key long-term climate driver of intense Southwest Florida hurricane strikes.
Strengthening of the North-East Monsoon over the Flores Sea, Indonesia, at the time of Heinrich Event 1Geology
Muller, J., McManus, J.F., Oppo, D., Francois, R., Brown-Ledger, S.
2012 Paleoclimate evidence from South America and Asia has been interpreted to indicate that tropical rainfall migrated southward during the Northern Hemisphere cooling associated with Heinrich stadial 1 (HS1), an event of massive iceberg discharge to the North Atlantic ca. 18–15 ka. Although arid conditions associated with such a shift are well documented in southern Asia, as far south as Borneo, debate still exists regarding the precipitation response in southern Indonesia and Australia during HS1. This study utilizes concentrations of the long-lived nuclide 232Th as a proxy for detrital riverine input and 230Th normalization to estimate the history of preserved fluxes reaching the seafloor in the Flores Sea, located between southern Sulawesi and the Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia. Because the only source of 232Th to the ocean is continental minerals, this proxy is a robust indicator of continental weathering. The 230Th normalized burial fluxes of lithogenic and biogenic matter demonstrate that both detrital and biogenic fluxes in the Flores Sea were higher during HS1 than any other period in the past 22 k.y. High detrital fluxes indicate enhanced precipitation runoff from surrounding landmasses during a period of maximum southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This study further constrains the northern limit of enhanced rainfall associated with a southward shift of Australian monsoon-related rainfall at the time of HS1 and highlights the value of 232Th as a proxy of continental input to deep-sea sediment records.