Dr Nannan Li

Geography, ICARUS

Post Doctoral Researcher

Laraghbryan House


Nannan is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Irish Climate Analysis and Research UnitS (ICARUS) and the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. He is a palaeoclimatologist who employs a wide variety of techniques to deduce ancient climates during the past. Like the way archaeologists study fossils and other physical clues to gain insight into the prehistoric past, his research focuses on geological evidence to understand what Earth’s past climate was like and why.

Nannan has a background studying past climate and environmental change recorded by peatlands, lakes, and aeolian sediments. He is an expert in phytoliths (micro silica particles that formed in plants) but also using cutting-edge geochemistry approaches, to infer past climate conditions and to discover past human activity.

Nannan joined the Department of Geography and ICARUS the at Maynooth University as a postdoctoral researcher in 2023. Funded by the PCARB (Past CARbon accumulation by Irish Blanket bogs) project, he is collecting and analysing peat cores extensively in Ireland to investigate the past climate influence on the carbon accumulation rates of Irish blanket bogs. Prior to that he has worked at Xiamen University (2020-2023) as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, with a Ph.D. in Physical Geography (2020) and a BA in Geography (2014) at the Northeast Normal University, China.

Research Interests

Instrumental data extend the climate record back in time by perhaps a couple of centuries but Paleoclimatology can provide insight into the climate system over thousands to millions of years sampling conditions very different from the present day, and in some cases similar to model projections for the future. My research interests stem from my desire to understand the Earth's climate from a geological perspective. These fundamental aspects include the reconstructions of past climate and the assessment of the ecological consequences of climate change.

Using imprints created during past climate, known as proxies, I analyze sediment cores for phytolith, pollen, and plant macrofossils, to interpret paleoclimate. Abrupt climate change and warm intervals are of particular interest to me.

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2023 Li, N.; Yu, F.; Chambers, F.M.; Huang, Z.; Lin, W.; Zhu, Z.; Yang, H.; Lin, J. (2023) 'A humification-based method toward refining Holocene radiocarbon chronologies: Wetland records from southeastern China'. Holocene, 33 . [Link] [DOI]
2022 Li, N; Yu, F; Sack, D; Huang, Z; Tian, G; Liu, S (2022) 'Phytolith Assemblages as a Promising Tool for Quantitative Canopy Coverage Reconstruction in Subtropical Forests, China'. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13 . [DOI]
2022 Li, N.; Song, L.; Sack, D.; Lu, Z.; Yu, F.; Gao, G.; Li, D.; Li, M.; Yang, Y.; Zong, Y.; Jie, D. (2022) 'Phytolith and simulation evidence for precipitation-modulated vegetation dynamics along the East Asian monsoon margin'. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 590 . [Link] [DOI]
2021 Li, N.; Xie, M.; Sack, D.; Dubois, N.; Yang, X.; Gao, G.; Li, D.; Liu, L.; Liu, H.; Leng, C.; Wang, J.; Liu, B.; Jie, D. (2021) 'Continuous aridification since the mid-Holocene as the main cause of C3/C4 dynamics in the grasslands of northeastern China'. European Journal of Soil Science, 72 . [Link] [DOI]
2021 Li, N.; Sharifi, A.; Chambers, F.M.; Ge, Y.; Dubois, N.; Gao, G.; Li, D.; Liu, L.; Liu, H.; Wang, J.; Niu, H.; Meng, M.; Liu, Y.; Zhang, G.; Jie, D. (2021) 'Linking Holocene East Asian monsoon variability to solar forcing and ENSO activity: Multi-proxy evidence from a peatland in Northeastern China'. Holocene, 31 . [Link] [DOI]
2019 Li, N; Li, M; Sack, D; Kang, W; Song, L; Yang, Y; Zong, Y; Jie, D (2019) 'Diatom evidence for mid-Holocene peatland water-table variations and their possible link to solar forcing'. The Science of the total environment, 725 . [DOI]
2018 Li, N.; Sack, D.; Gao, G.; Liu, L.; Li, D.; Yang, X.; Jie, D.; Liu, H.; Shi, J.; Leng, C. (2018) 'Holocene Artemisia-Chenopodiaceae-dominated grassland in North China: Real or imaginary?'. Holocene, 28 . [Link] [DOI]
2017 Li, N.; Chambers, F.M.; Yang, J.; Jie, D.; Liu, L.; Liu, H.; Gao, G.; Gao, Z.; Li, D.; Shi, J.; Feng, Y.; Qiao, Z. (2017) 'Records of East Asian monsoon activities in Northeastern China since 15.6 ka, based on grain size analysis of peaty sediments in the Changbai Mountains'. QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL, 447 . [Link] [DOI]

Other Publication

Year Publication
2020 Li, N.; Sack, D.; Sun, J.; Liu, S.; Liu, B.; Wang, J.; Gao, G.; Li, D.; Song, Z.; Jie, D. (2020) Quantifying the carbon content of aeolian sediments: Which method should we use?. [Link] [DOI]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
14/07/2023 INQUA Fellow 2023 International Union for Quaternary Research

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
The Geographical Society of China Membership 05/12/2023 -
Chinese Association for Quaternary Research (CHIQUA) Membership 01/06/2017 -
Irish Quaternary Association Membership 01/01/2024 -
British Ecological Society (BES) Membership 01/11/2023 - 31/10/2024

Editorial / Academic Reviews

Amount Role From / To
The Holocene, Annals of Botany, Journal of Hydrology, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Frontiers in Earth Science, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Reviewer 01/10/2017 -
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology Guest Editor 01/11/2021 -


Employer Position From / To
Xiamen University Postdoctoral research fellow 09/09/2020 - 30/11/2023
Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology Visiting postdoctoral fellow 01/03/2023 - 31/07/2023


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
01/09/2010 Northeast Normal University Bachelor Geography
01/04/2018 Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology Visiting PhD student Geochemistry
01/09/2015 Northeast Normal University (China) Ph.D. Physical Geography
01/10/2018 European Centre for Research and Teaching in Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE) Visiting PhD student Geochemistry


Language Reading Writing Speaking
English Functional Functional Functional
French Basic Basic Basic