Dr Niamh Cahill

Mathematics and Statistics, Hamilton Institute, ICARUS

Associate Professor

Logic House
(01) 708 6544


My research ethos is to develop statistical models that will help address problems relating to societal and environmental concerns.  I publish peer-reviewed papers in statistical, environmental science and public health journals.  One aspect of my research specifically focuses on the development of statistical models to assess and interpret indicators of climate change including sea-level change and sea-level extremes.  Exploring and quantifying the spatial non-uniformity and the uncertain magnitude of current and future sea-level rise and extreme sea-levels that lead to flooding  aids in addressing the unique challenges faced by coastal risk-management decision makers in relation to developing coastal mitigation and adaptation strategies. As well as this I work on the statistical analysis of population-level health trends, specifically family-planning indicators, on a national and sub-national level, with a focus on the world's poorest countries. Assessing progress towards meeting family planning targets and goals, including those associated with contraceptive use is crucial to meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to health (Goal 3) and gender equality and women’s empowerment.

I use a Bayesian approach to statistical modeling, which is suitable for developing complex hierarchical models, accounts of uncertainties related to model parameters, incorporates prior knowledge, and shares information across data populations. My research covers a range of statistical disciplines including: stochastic processes; time series analysis; computation and simulation; and multivariate analysis.

Research Interests

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
HydroDare: Detection and Attribution of Climate Change in hydrology Co-PI 01/11/2022
IHRN: Development and analysis of hydrometric reference network for Ireland. Co-PI 01/11/2022
Predicting Sea Levels and Sea Level Extremes for Ireland PI Rising seas increase the vulnerability of cities and associated infrastructure that line the coastline of Ireland because of higher extreme sea levels (and flooding), coastal erosion, salinization of surface and ground waters, and degradation of coastal habitats. Armed with statistical knowledge of how sea levels have been changing in the 20th and 21st century, future links between mean sea-level and sea level extremes due to storm surges and wave climate can be established, which are vital to inform decision making related to flood risks. For this project, we have identified three main components necessary for providing estimates of current and future sea levels and sea level extremes around Ireland: (1) Establish links between sea-levels and climate using instrumental records of Irish sea-level changes; (2) Estimate extreme sea-level probabilities at high spatial resolution for select locations along the Irish coastline considering influences of sea-level rise, storm surges and waves; (3) Combine outputs from (1) and (2) to provide projections of extreme sea levels and corresponding return periods under different climate scenarios. Outputs will contribute to a stakeholder-focused, user-friendly web-application, interactive maps, R software and databases which respond to Ireland’s need for future sea-level and extreme sea-level projections and their interpretation. 01/12/2021 30/11/2024 258529
Computational tools for medium-term impact and recovery forecasting from COVID-19 Co-PI 03/06/2020 02/12/2020 90071
A4: Aigéin, Aeráid, agus Athrú Atlantaigh (Oceans, Climate, and Atlantic Change) Co-PI 01/12/2018

Post Doctoral Fellows / Research Team

Researcher Name Project Funding Body
Fernando Mayer Estimating sea levels and sea-level extremes for Ireland

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2023 Cahill N.; Croke J.; Campbell M.; Hughes K.; Vitkovsky J.; Kilgallen J.E.; Parnell A. (2023) 'A Bayesian time series model for reconstructing hydroclimate from multiple proxies'. Environmetrics, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2023 Shaw, T.A.; Li, T.; Ng, T.; Cahill, N.; Chua, S.; Majewski, J.M.; Nathan, Y.; Garner, G.G.; Kopp, R.E.; Hanebuth, T.J.J.; Switzer, A.D.; Horton, B.P. (2023) 'Deglacial perspectives of future sea level for Singapore'. Communications Earth and Environment, 4 . [Link] [DOI]
2023 Tan, F.; Khan, N.S.; Li, T.; Meltzner, A.J.; Majewski, J.; Chan, N.; Chutcharavan, P.M.; Cahill, N.; Vacchi, M.; Peng, D.; Horton, B.P. (2023) 'Holocene relative sea-level histories of far-field islands in the mid-Pacific'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, . [Link] [DOI]
2023 Zoë A. Roseby Katherine Southall Fermin Alvarez-Agoues Niamh Cahill Gerard D. McCarthy Robin J. Edwards (2023) 'Two centuries of relative sea-level rise in Dublin, Ireland, reconstructed by Geological Tide Gauge'. Open Quaternary, 9: 3 :1-19. [Link] [DOI] [Full-Text]
2023 Hirschfeld, D.; Behar, D.; Nicholls, R.J.; Cahill, N.; James, T.; Horton, B.P.; Portman, M.E.; Bell, R.; Campo, M.; Esteban, M.; Goble, B.; Rahman, M.; Addo, K.A.; Chundeli, F.A.; Aunger, M.; Babitsky, O.; Beal, A.; Boyle, R.; Fang, J.; Gohar, A.; Hanson, S.; Karamesines, S.; Kim, M.J.; Lohmann, H.; McInnes, K.; Mimura, N.; Ramsay, D.; Wenger, L.; Yokoki, H. (2023) 'Global survey shows planners use widely varying sea-level rise projections for coastal adaptation'. Communications Earth and Environment, 4 . [Link] [DOI]
2022 Padgett J.S.; Engelhart S.E.; Kelsey H.M.; Witter R.C.; Cahill N. (2022) 'Reproducibility and variability of earthquake subsidence estimates from saltmarshes of a Cascadia estuary'. JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2022 Walker J.S.; Li T.; Shaw T.A.; Cahill N.; Barber D.C.; Brain M.J.; Kopp R.E.; Switzer A.D.; Horton B.P. (2022) 'A 5000-year record of relative sea-level change in New Jersey, USA'. Holocene, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Cahill N.; Sonneveldt E.; Emmart P.; Williamson J.; Mbu R.; Yetgang A.B.F.; Dambula I.; Azambuja G.; Govo A.A.M.; Joshi B.; Felix S.; Makashaka C.; Ndaruhutse V.; Serucaca J.; Madzima B.; Muzavazi B.; Alkema L. (2021) 'Using family planning service statistics to inform model-based estimates of modern contraceptive prevalence'. PLoS ONE, 16 (10 October). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Croke J.; Vítkovský J.; Hughes K.; Campbell M.; Amirnezhad-Mozhdehi S.; Parnell A.; Cahill N.; Dalla Pozza R. (2021) 'A palaeoclimate proxy database for water security planning in Queensland Australia'. Scientific Data, 8 (1). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Alkema L.; Guranich G.; Cahill N. (2021) 'Fpemlocal: Estimating family planning indicators in R for a single population of interest'. Gates Open Research, 5 . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Walker J.S.; Kopp R.E.; Shaw T.A.; Cahill N.; Khan N.S.; Barber D.C.; Ashe E.L.; Brain M.J.; Clear J.L.; Corbett D.R.; Horton B.P. (2021) 'Common Era sea-level budgets along the U.S. Atlantic coast'. Nature Communications, 12 (1). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Padgett J.S.; Engelhart S.E.; Kelsey H.M.; Witter R.C.; Cahill N.; Hemphill-Haley E. (2021) 'Timing and amount of southern Cascadia earthquake subsidence over the past 1700 years at northern Humboldt Bay, California, USA'. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 133 (9-10):2137-2156. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Caesar, L; McCarthy, GD; Thornalley, DJR; Cahill, N; Rahmstorf, S (2021) 'Current Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation weakest in last millennium'. Nature Geoscience, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Nelson, AR; Hawkes, AD; Sawai, Y; Horton, B; Witter, RC; Bradley, LA; Cahill, N (2021) 'Minimal stratigraphic evidence for coseismic coastal subsidence during 2000 yr of megathrust earthquakes at the central Cascadia subduction zone'. Geosphere, 17 :171-200. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2020 Walker J.S.; Cahill N.; Khan N.S.; Shaw T.A.; Barber D.; Miller K.G.; Kopp R.E.; Horton B.P. (2020) 'Incorporating temporal and spatial variability of salt-marsh foraminifera into sea-level reconstructions'. Marine Geology, 429 . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2020 Nelson A.; Hawkes A.; Sawai Y.; Engelhart S.; Witter R.; Grant-Walter W.; Bradley L.; Dura T.; Cahill N.; Horton B. (2020) 'Identifying the greatest earthquakes of the past 2000 years at the Nehalem river Estuary, northern Oregon coast, USA'. Open Quaternary, 6 (1). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2020 Hernández A.; Sánchez-López G.; Pla-Rabes S.; Comas-Bru L.; Parnell A.; Cahill N.; Geyer A.; Trigo R.M.; Giralt S. (2020) 'A 2,000-year Bayesian NAO reconstruction from the Iberian Peninsula'. Scientific Reports, 10 (1). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2020 Horton, BP; Khan, NS; Cahill, N; Lee, JSH; Shaw, TA; Garner, AJ; Kemp, AC; Engelhart, SE; Rahmstorf, S (2020) 'Estimating global mean sea-level rise and its uncertainties by 2100 and 2300 from an expert survey'. Npj Climate And Atmospheric Science, 3 . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2020 Cahill N; Weinberger M; Alkema L; (2020) 'What increase in modern contraceptive use is needed in FP2020 countries to reach 75% demand satisfied by 2030? An assessment using the Accelerated Transition Method and Family Planning Estimation Model'. Gates Open Research, 4 . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2020 Kemp, A.C.; Wright, A.J.; Cahill, N. (2020) 'Enough is enough, or more is more? Testing the influence of foraminiferal count size on reconstructions of paleo-marsh elevation'. Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 50 . [Link] [DOI]
2019 Gonneea M.E.; Maio C.V.; Kroeger K.D.; Hawkes A.D.; Mora J.; Sullivan R.; Madsen S.; Buzard R.M.; Cahill N.; Donnelly J.P. (2019) 'Salt marsh ecosystem restructuring enhances elevation resilience and carbon storage during accelerating relative sea-level rise'. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 217 :56-68. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Jones R.; Small D.; Cahill N.; Bentley M.; Whitehouse P. (2019) 'iceTEA: Tools for plotting and analysing cosmogenic-nuclide surface-exposure data from former ice margins'. Quaternary Geochronology, 51 :72-86. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Dean S.; Horton B.; Evelpidou N.; Cahill N.; Spada G.; Sivan D. (2019) 'Can we detect centennial sea-level variations over the last three thousand years in Israeli archaeological records?'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 210 :125-135. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Ashe E.; Cahill N.; Hay C.; Khan N.; Kemp A.; Engelhart S.; Horton B.; Parnell A.; Kopp R. (2019) 'Statistical modeling of rates and trends in Holocene relative sea level'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 204 :58-77. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Shaw T.; Plater A.; Kirby J.; Roy K.; Holgate S.; Tutman P.; Cahill N.; Horton B. (2018) 'Tectonic influences on late Holocene relative sea levels from the central-eastern Adriatic coast of Croatia'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 200 :262-275. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Cahill N.; Sonneveldt E.; Stover J.; Weinberger M.; Williamson J.; Wei C.; Brown W.; Alkema L. (2018) 'Modern contraceptive use, unmet need, and demand satisfied among women of reproductive age who are married or in a union in the focus countries of the Family Planning 2020 initiative: a systematic analysis using the Family Planning Estimation Tool'. Lancet, 391 (10123):870-882. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Kemp A.; Cahill N.; Engelhart S.; Hawkes A.; Wang K. (2018) 'Revising estimates of spatially variable subsidence during the A.D. 1700 cascadia earthquake using a bayesian foraminiferal transfer function'. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 108 (2):654-673. [DOI]
2018 Kemp A.; Wright A.; Edwards R.; Barnett R.; Brain M.; Kopp R.; Cahill N.; Horton B.; Charman D.; Hawkes A.; Hill T.; van de Plassche O. (2018) 'Relative sea-level change in Newfoundland, Canada during the past ∼3000 years'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 201 :89-110. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Horton BP; Shennan I; Bradley SL; Cahill N; Kirwan M; Kopp RE; Shaw TA; (2018) 'Predicting marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise using Holocene relative sea-level data'. Nature Communications, 9 (1). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Cahill N. (2018) 'No “slowdown” in the story of global warming'. Significance, 15 (1):24-27. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Brain, MJ; Kemp, AC; Hawkes, AD; Engelhart, SE; Vane, CH; Cahill, N; Hill, TD; Donnelly, JP; Horton, BP (2017) 'Exploring mechanisms of compaction in salt-marsh sediments using Common Era relative sea-level reconstructions'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 167 :96-111. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 New J.; Cahill N.; Stover J.; Gupta Y.; Alkema L. (2017) 'Levels and trends in contraceptive prevalence, unmet need, and demand for family planning for 29 states and union territories in India: a modelling study using the Family Planning Estimation Tool'. The Lancet Global Health, 5 (3):e350-e358. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Gerlach M.; Engelhart S.; Kemp A.; Moyer R.; Smoak J.; Bernhardt C.; Cahill N. (2017) 'Reconstructing Common Era relative sea-level change on the Gulf Coast of Florida'. Marine Geology, 390 :254-269. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Rahmstorf S.; Foster G.; Cahill N. (2017) 'Global temperature evolution: Recent trends and some pitfalls'. Environmental Research Letters, 12 (5). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Kemp A.; Kegel J.; Culver S.; Barber D.; Mallinson D.; Leorri E.; Bernhardt C.; Cahill N.; Riggs S.; Woodson A.; Mulligan R.; Horton B. (2017) 'Extended late Holocene relative sea-level histories for North Carolina, USA'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 160 :13-30. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Kemp A.; Hill T.; Vane C.; Cahill N.; Orton P.; Talke S.; Parnell A.; Sanborn K.; Hartig E. (2017) 'Relative sea-level trends in New York City during the past 1500 years'. Holocene, 27 (8):1169-1186. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Hawkes A.; Kemp A.; Donnelly J.; Horton B.; Peltier W.; Cahill N.; Hill D.; Ashe E.; Alexander C. (2016) 'Relative sea-level change in northeastern Florida (USA) during the last ~8.0 ka'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 142 :90-101. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Cahill N.; Kemp A.; Horton B.; Parnell A. (2016) 'A Bayesian hierarchical model for reconstructing relative sea level: From raw data to rates of change'. Climate of the Past, 12 (2):525-542. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Brain, MJ; Kemp, AC; Horton, BP; Culver, SJ; Parnell, AC; Cahill, N (2015) 'Quantifying the contribution of sediment compaction to late Holocene salt-marsh sea-level reconstructions, North Carolina, USA'. Quaternary Research, 83 :41-51. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Cahill N.; Kemp A.; Horton B.; Parnell A. (2015) 'Modeling sea-level change using errors-in-variables integrated gaussian processes'. Annals of Applied Statistics, 9 (2):547-571. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Cahill N.; Rahmstorf S.; Parnell A. (2015) 'Change points of global temperature'. Environmental Research Letters, 10 (8). [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Kelsey H.; Engelhart S.; Pilarczyk J.; Horton B.; Rubin C.; Daryono M.; Ismail N.; Hawkes A.; Bernhardt C.; Cahill N. (2015) 'Accommodation space, relative sea level, and the archiving of paleo-earthquakes along subduction zones'. Journal of Geology, 43 (8):675-678. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Kemp A.; Hawkes A.; Donnelly J.; Vane C.; Horton B.; Hill T.; Anisfeld S.; Parnell A.; Cahill N. (2015) 'Relative sea-level change in Connecticut (USA) during the last 2200 yrs'. Earth and Planetary Sciences Letters, 428 :217-229. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2014 Long A.; Barlow N.; Gehrels W.; Saher M.; Woodworth P.; Scaife R.; Brain M.; Cahill N. (2014) 'Contrasting records of sea-level change in the eastern and western North Atlantic during the last 300 years'. Earth and Planetary Sciences Letters, 388 :110-122. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2014 Kemp A.; Bernhardt C.; Horton B.; Kopp R.; Vane C.; Peltier W.; Hawkes A.; Donnelly J.; Parnell A.; Cahill N. (2014) 'Late Holocene sea- and land-level change on the U.S. southeastern Atlantic coast'. Marine Geology, 357 :90-100. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2013 Kemp A.; Horton B.; Vane C.; Bernhardt C.; Corbett D.; Engelhart S.; Anisfeld S.; Parnell A.; Cahill N. (2013) 'Sea-level change during the last 2500 years in New Jersey, USA'. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 81 :90-104. [DOI] [Full-Text]

Short Survey

Year Publication
2020 Horton B.P.; Khan N.S.; Cahill N.; Lee J.S.H.; Shaw T.A.; Garner A.J.; Kemp A.C.; Engelhart S.E.; Rahmstorf S. (2020) Author Correction: Estimating global mean sea-level rise and its uncertainties by 2100 and 2300 from an expert survey (npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, (2020), 3, 1, (18), 10.1038/s41612-020-0121-5). [Short Survey] [DOI]


Year Publication
2022 Caesar L.; McCarthy G.D.; Thornalley D.J.R.; Cahill N.; Rahmstorf S. (2022) Reply to: Atlantic circulation change still uncertain. [Letters] [DOI]

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2022 Niamh Cahill (2022) The use of family planning service statistics for informing estimates of projections of modern contraceptive prevalence Bayesian Methods for the Social Sciences Paris, .
2021 Niamh Cahill (2021) PAA session 501-1: Bayesian Demography II PAA Annual Meeting Online, .
2021 Niamh Cahill (2021) A BAYESIAN STATISTICAL MODEL FOR RECONSTRUCTING AND ANALYSING FORMER SEA LEVELS Meeting of the Irish Mathematical Society Online, .
2019 Niamh Cahill, Michelle Weinberger, Leontine Alkema (2019) Measuring progress towards having 75% of the demand for contraception satisfied by 2030 Conference of Applied Statistics in Ireland Louth, .
2019 Niamh Cahill, Andrew Parnell, Michael Salter-Townshend (2019) Bayesian Statistical Analysis Methods for Paleoclimate Data INQUA Conference Dublin, Ireland, .
2019 Niamh Cahill (2019) A BAYESIAN STATISTICAL MODEL FOR RECONSTRUCTING AND ANALYSING FORMER SEA LEVELS Quaternary Research Association Annual Meeting Chester, U.K, .
2018 Niamh Cahill (2018) Trends in Modern Contraceptive Prevalence, Unmet Need for and Demand Satis ed with Modern methods in the Focus Countries of the Family Planning 2020 Initiative Conference of Applied Statistics Ireland Galway, Ireland, .
2017 Niamh Cahill (2017) A Probabilistic Assessment of Trends in Modern Contraceptive Prevalence, Unmet Need for and Demand Satis ed with Modern methods in the Countries of the FP2020 initiative Population Association of America Annual Meeting Chicago, USA, .
2016 Niamh Cahill (2016) Accounting for Uncertainty in the Analysis of Former Sea Levels Reconstructions and Rates of Change Paleo Sea Level Annual Meeting Oregon, USA, .
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.


Committee Function From / To
Academic Council Member 01/12/2022 -
Faculty of Science and Engineering EDI Member 01/10/2022 -
University Research Committee Member 19/12/2020 - 19/12/2022
ISA Ordinary Member 05/05/2022 -
Department of Mathematics and Statistics PR Committee Member 01/01/2019 -
Y-ISA Outreach Officer 01/05/2021 - 01/05/2022


Employer Position From / To
University College Dublin Lecturer/Assistant Professor 01/09/2017 -
UMASS Amherst Post Doctoral Research Associate 01/01/2016 - 31/08/2017


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
Maynooth University BSc Chemistry and Statistics
University College Dublin PhD Statistics
University College Dublin MSc Statistics

Teaching Interests

DS152 Introduction to Data Science (2), Academic Year 2021/22 ‑ present

ST405 Bayesian Data Analysis, Academic Year 2021/22 ‑ present

ST201 Data Analysis, Academic Year 2020/21 ‑ present

ST466 Advanced Statistical Modelling, Academic Year 2019/20 & 2020/21

DS151 Introduction to Data Science (1),  Academic Year 2019/20 & 2020/21