Collegiate Affiliation

Daniel Griffin is an Associate Professor in Geography and Affiliated Faculty at the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory. He specializes in developing tree-ring records from old-growth forests and using these data to study climate process and environmental history.

Griffin's research lab centers student involvement in socially-relevant work on environmental change. Students in his group are provided with immersive experiences in environmental science fieldwork, numerical data analyses, and the process of develping scientific manuscripts. A signature project in Griffin’s lab aims to bring the beauty of tree-ring wood anatomy to the world. He and his team are incubating new technologies for ultra-high resolution imaging of entire collections of wood specimens, transforming reproducibility and open-science opportunities related to data development, curation, and visualization. Griffin believes tree rings may be the most inherently accessible gateway to environmental systems thinking, and the imagery he creates is undeniably effective for education and outreach. Other projects in Griffin’s lab include paleoclimate reconstruction and climate forcing of forest biogeography in North America.

Griffin's paleoclimate work in California showed that recent drought, exacerbated by the heat of climate change, was unusual in the context of at least the last millennium. Comparing tree rings with similar growth increments from marine organisms, Griffin and colleagues revealed the increasing influence of atmospheric circulation in modulating primary productivity and synchrony across diverse ecosystems. Recent work in his group has focused on understanding climate variability as a driver of terrestrial ecosystem productivity in the Upper Midwest. Griffin is also passionate about using dendrochronology for old-growth forest identification and conservation.

Griffin has published dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers and regularly provides expert context for news media coverage on climate extremes and ecosystem responses. His current research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the United States Geological Survey. He previously held research fellowships through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency,  and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Griffin teaches undergraduate courses on biogeography, climatology, and the geography of Minnesota, plus a graduate seminar on climate extremes and environmental change. He is the Geography Department faculty liaison to the University Honors Program, and is a member of the graduate faculty in the UMN Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Geography, University of Arizona
  • M.A.: Geography, University of Arkansas
  • B.S., cum laude: Earth Science, University of Arkansas


  • Tree-ring data & analysis
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Climate Change
  • Global Change Ecology