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Durham University

Sea Level Research Unit (SLRU)


Dr Sarah Woodroffe

Contact Dr Sarah Woodroffe (email at


I am an Associate Professor in the Geography Department. My research is focused upon reconstructing Holocene and recent sea-level changes using microfossil-based reconstruction methods, in order to answer questions of ice sheet history, crustal response to surface loading and predictions of future sea-level change in vulnerable coastal areas. I’m currently involved in research looking at sea-level changes over the last millennia in Greenland and what they can tell us about the changing mass-balance history of the Greenland Ice Sheet over the recent past and over longer timescales. I am also working on sea-level records from key locations far from the centres of former glaciation which provide information on the long-term melting histories of the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. My particular area of expertise is the development and application of sediment and microfossil-based methodologies (including transfer functions) in reconstructing sea-level change. These are designed to enhance accuracy and precision and to allow development of sea-level records from historically poorly studied locations such as low and high latitudes.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  • Søndergaard, A.S. Larsen, N.K. Olsen, J. Strunk, A. & Woodroffe, S.A. Glacial history of the Greenland Ice Sheet and a local ice cap in Qaanaaq, northwest Greenland. Journal of Quaternary Science. 2019;34:536-547.
  • Johnson, J.A., Perry, C.T., Smithers, S.G., Morgan, K.M. & Woodroffe, S.A. Reef shallowing is a critical control on benthic foraminiferal assemblage composition on nearshore turbid coral reefs. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 2019;533:109240.
  • Barlow, N.L.M., McClymont, E.L., Whitehouse, P.L., Stokes, C.R., Jamieson, S.S.R., Woodroffe, S.A., Bentley, M.J., Callard, S.L., Ó Cofaigh, C., Evans, D.J.A., Horrocks, J.R., Lloyd, J.M., Long, A.J., Margold, M., Roberts, D.H. & Sanchez-Montes, M.L. Lack of evidence for a substantial sea-level fluctuation within the Last Interglacial. Nature Geoscience. 2018;11:627-634.
  • Swindles, Graeme T., Galloway, Jennifer M., Macumber, Andrew L., Croudace, Ian, Emery, Andy R., Woulds, Clare, Bateman, Mark D., Parry, Lauren, Jones, Julie M., Selby, Katherine, Rushby, Greg T., Baird, Andy J., Woodroffe, Sarah A. & Barlow, Natasha L.M. Sedimentary records of coastal storm surges: Evidence of the 1953 North Sea event. Marine Geology. 2018;403:262-270.
  • Woodroffe, S. A., Long, A. J., Milne, G. A., Bryant, C. L. & Thomas, A. New constraints on late Holocene eustatic sea-level changes from Mahé, Seychelles. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2015;115:1-16.
  • Woodroffe, S. A., Long, A.J., Punwong, P., Selby, K., Bryant, C. L. & Marchant, R. Radiocarbon dating of mangrove sediments to constrain Holocene relative sea-level change on Zanzibar in the Southwest Indian Ocean. The Holocene. 2015;25:820-831.
  • Garrett, E., Shennan, I., Woodroffe, S.A., Cisternas, M., Hocking, E.P. & Gulliver, P. Reconstructing paleoseismic deformation, 2: 1000 years of great earthquakes at Chucalén, south central Chile. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2015;113:112-122.
  • Lecavalier, B.S., Milne, G.A., Simpson, M.J.R., Wake, L., Huybrechts, P., Tarasov, L., Kjeldsen, K.K., Funder, S.V., Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Dyke, A.S. & Larsen, N.K. A model of Greenland ice sheet deglaciation constrained by observations of relative sea level and ice extent. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2014;102:54-84.
  • Woodroffe, S.A., Long, A.J., Lecavalier, B. S., Milne, G.A. & Bryant, C.L. Using relative sea-level data to constrain the deglacial and Holocene history of southern Greenland. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2014;92:345-356.
  • Garrett, E., Shennan, I., Watcham, E.P. & Woodroffe, S.A. Reconstructing paleoseismic deformation, 1: modern analogues from the 1960 and 2010 Chilean great earthquakes. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2013;75:11-21.
  • Barlow, N.L.M., Shennan, I., Long, A.J., Gehrels, W.R., Saher, M.H, Woodroffe, S.A. & Hillier, C. Salt marshes as late Holocene tide gauges. Global and Planetary Change. 2013;106:90-110.
  • Wake, L.M., Milne, G.A., Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Simpson, M.J.R. & Huybrechts, P. Century-scale relative sea-level changes in West Greenland — A plausibility study to assess contributions from the cryosphere and the ocean. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 2012;315-316:86-93.
  • Brain, M.J., Long, A.J, Woodroffe, S.A., Petley, D.N., Milledge, D.G. & Parnell, A.C. Modelling the effects of sediment compaction on salt marsh reconstructions of recent sea-level rise. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 2012;345-348:180-193.
  • Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Milne, G. A., Bryant, C.L., Simpson, M.J.R. & Wake, L.M. Relative sea-level change in Greenland during the last 700 years and ice sheet response to the Little Ice Age. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 2012;315-316:76-85.
  • Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Roberts, D.H. & Dawson, S. Isolation basins, sea-level changes and the Holocene history of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2011;30:3748-3768.
  • Woodroffe, S.A. & Long, A.J. Reconstructing recent relative sea-level changes in West Greenland: local diatom-based transfer functions are superior to regional models. Quaternary International. 2010;222:91-103.
  • Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Milne, G.A., Bryant, C.L. & Wake, L.M. Relative sea level change in west Greenland during the last millennium. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2010;29:367-383.
  • Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Dawson, S., Roberts, D.H. & Bryant, L.M. Late Holocene relative sea level rise and the Neoglacial history of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Jounal of Quaternary Science. 2009;24:345-359.
  • Woodroffe, S.A. Recognising subtidal foraminiferal assemblages: implications for quantitative sea-level reconstructions using a foraminifera-based transfer function. Journal of Quaternary Science. 2009;24:215-223.
  • Woodroffe, S.A. & Long, A.J. Salt marshes as archives of recent relative sea-level change in West Greenland. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2009;28:1750-1761.
  • Woodroffe, S.A. Testing models of mid to late Holocene sea-level change, North Queensland, Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2009;28:2474-2488.
  • Woodroffe, S.A. & Horton, B.P. Holocene sea-level changes in the Indo-Pacific. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences. 2005;25:29-43.
  • Woodroffe, S.A., Horton, B.P., Larcombe.P.E. & Whittaker, J.E. Intertidal mangrove foraminifera from the central Great Barrier Reef shelf, Australia: Implications for sea-level reconstruction. Journal of Foraminiferal Research. 2005;35:259-270.
  • Horton, B. P., Whittaker, J. E., Thomson, K. H., Hardbattle, M. I. J., Kemp, A., Woodroffe, S. A. & Wright, M. R. The development of a modern foraminiferal data set for sea-level reconstructions, Wakatobi Marine National Park, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Journal of Foraminiferal Research. 2005;35:1-14.
  • Horton, B. P., Larcombe, P., Woodroffe, S. A., Whittaker, J. E., Wright, M. R. & Wynn, C. Contemporary foraminiferal distributions of the Great Barrier Reef coastline, Australia: implications for sea-level reconstructions. Marine Geology. 2003;198:225-243.

Chapter in book

  • Woodroffe, S.A. & Long, A.J. Late Quaternary Sea-level Changes in Greenland. In: Editor in Chief Elias & S.A. Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, 2nd edition. Elsevier; 2012.

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Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Geography

  • Constraining Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Balance Using Salt Marsh Sediment Sequences
  • Reconstructing Ice Sheet History Using Relative Sea-Level (RSL) Observations and Modelling