Yige Zhang

Yige Zhang

Associate Professor

Geological Oceanography: Past and future climate change; Organic and isotope geochemistry; Global biogeochemical cycles


  (979) 845-4978

  Eller O&M 517A


  • Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology: Cenozoic climate change; Greenhouse gases; Earth system climate sensitivity; Ocean temperature and temperature gradients; Ocean currents; Upwelling
  • Geochemistry: organic geochemistry; stable isotope geochemistry (compound-specific isotopes); global biogeochemical cycles
  • Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry: Archaea evolution

I am a paleoclimatologist/geochemist interested in studying the Earth’s past climate and biogeochemical cycle changes. These studies help us to better understand and manage our future. My primary research tools are organic/isotope geochemistry, aided by geochemical and climate models. We run an organic geochemistry lab equipped with gas chromatography, liquid chromatography and isotope ratio mass spectrometry that are specialized at measuring the composition and stable isotopes of lipid biomarkers or “molecular fossils”.

Selected Publications

*Denotes Student/Postdoc Publications


Li, Z.-Y.*, Zhang, Y.G., Torres, M. and Mills, B.J.W., 2023, Neogene burial of organic carbon in the global oceanNature, 613, 90-95.

Kim, B*. and Zhang, Y.G., 2023, Methane Index: Towards a quantitative archaeal lipid biomarker proxy for reconstructing marine sedimentary methane fluxesGeochimi. Cosmochimi. Acta, 354, 74-87.

Petrick, B., Reuning, L., Auer, G., Zhang, Y.G., Pfeiffer, M., and Schwark, L., 2023, Warm, not cold temperatures contributed to a Late Miocene reef decline in the Coral SeaSci. Rep., 13, 4015.


Liu, X*., Huber, M., Foster, G., Dessler, A. and Zhang, Y.G., 2022, Persistent high latitude amplification over the last 10 million yearsNature Comm., 13, 7310.

Wang, T.X., Wang Y., Auderset, A., Sigman D.M., Ren, H., Martínez-García, A., Haug, G.H., Su, Z., Zhang, Y.G., Rasmussen, B., Sessions, A.L., Fischer, W.W., 2022, Nutrient rise drove ocean deoxygenation over the past eight million yearsProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 119, e2204986119.

Shen, J., Zhang, Y.G., Yang, H., Xie, S., and Pearson, A., 2022, Early and late phases of the Permian-Triassic mass extinction marked by different atmospheric CO2 regimesNature Geosci., 15, 839–844.

Rattanasriampaipong, R.*, Zhang, Y.G., Pearson, A., Hedlund, B.P., and Zhang, S., 2022, Archaeal lipids trace ecology and evolution of marine ammonia-oxidizing archaeaProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 119, e2123193119.

Kim, B*. and Zhang, Y.G., 2022, Marine gas hydrate dissociation across the Oligocene – Miocene boundaryNature Geosci., 15, 203-209.

Zhang, Y.G., 2022, Acceptance of the 2022 F.W. Clarke award to Yige ZhangGeochimi. Cosmochimi. Acta, 337, 189.

Judd, E.J., Tierney, J.E., Huber, B.T., Wing, S.L., Lunt, D.J., Ford, H.L., Inglis, G.N., McClymont, E.L., O’Brien, C.L., Rattanasriampaipong, R.*, Si, W., Staitis, M.L., Thirumalai, K., Anagnostou, E., Cramwinckel, M.J., Dawson, R.R., Evans, D., Gray, W.G., Grossman, E.L., Henehan, M.J., Hupp, B.N., MacLeod, K.G., O’Connor, L.K., Sánchez Montes, M.L., Song H., and Zhang, Y.G., 2022, The PhanSST global database of Phanerozoic sea surface temperature proxy dataSci. Data, 9, 753.

Liang, J.-Q., Leng, Q., Hofig, D.F.*, Niu, G., Wang, L., Royer, D.L., Burke, K., Xiao, L., Zhang, Y.G., and Hong, Y., 2022, Constraining conifer physiological parameters in leaf gas-exchange models for ancient CO2 reconstructionGlobal & Planet. Change, 209, 103737.

Liang, J.-Q., Leng, Q., Xiao, L., Hofig, D.F.*, Royer, D.L., Zhang, Y.G., and Hong, Y., 2022, Early Miocene redwood fossils from Inner Mongolia: CO2 reconstructions and paleoclimate effects of a low Mongolian plateauRev. Palaeobot. & Paleonol., 305, 104743.


Hofig, D.*, Zhang, Y.G., Giosan, L., Qin, L., Liang, J., Wu, M., Miller, B.V., and Yang, H., 2021, Annually-resolved sediments in the classic Clarkia lacustrine deposits during the middle Miocene Climatic OptimumGeology, 49, 916-920.

Rae, J.W.B., Zhang, Y.G., Liu, X.*., Foster, G.L., Stoll, H.M., and Whiteford, R.D.M., 2021, Atmospheric CO2 over the last 66 million years from marine archivesAnnu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 49, 609-641.

Gao, C.*, Yang, Y., Zhang, Y.G., Lu, X., Wang, H., Yu, X., and Ruan, X., 2021, Different temperature dependence of marine-derived brGDGT isomers in a sediment core from the Chukchi Sea shelfOrg. Geochem., 152, 104169.

Lu, W., Barbosa, C., Rathburn, A., Xavier, P., Cruz, A.P., Thomas, E., Rickaby, R., Zhang, Y.G., and Lu, Z., 2021, Proxies for paleo-oxygenation: A downcore comparison between benthic foraminiferal surface porosity and I/CaPalaeogeogr., Palaeoclimatol., Palaeoecol., 579, 110588.


Zhang, Y.G., Henderiks, J. and Liu, X.*, 2020, Refining the alkenone-pCO2 method II: Towards resolving the physiological parameter ‘b’Geochimi. Cosmochimi. Acta, 281, 118-134.

Da, J., Zhang, Y.G., Li, G. and Ji, J., 2020, Aridity-driven decoupling of δ13C between pedogenic carbonate and soil organic matterGeology, 48, 981-985.

Tierney, J.E., Poulsen, C.J., Montanez, I.P., Bhattacharya, T., Feng, R., Ford, H.L., Honisch, B., Inglis, G.N., Petersen, S.V., Sagoo, N., Tabor, C.R., Thirumalai, K., Zhu, J., Burls, N.J., Foster, G.L., Godderis, Y., Huber, B.T., Ivany, L.C., Turner, S.K., Lunt, D.J., McElwain, J.C., Mills, B.J.W., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Ridgwell, A. and Zhang, Y.G., 2020, Past climates inform our futureScience, 370, eaay3701.


Da, J., Zhang, Y.G., Meng, X., Li. G., and Ji, J., 2019, Low CO2 levels of the entire Pleistocene EpochNature Commun., 10, 4342.

Zhang, Y.G., Pearson, A., Benthien, A., Dong, L., Huybers, P., Liu, X.* and Pagani, M., 2019, Refining the alkenone-pCO2 method I: Lessons from the Quaternary glacial cyclesGeochimi. Cosmochimi. Acta, 260, 177-191.

Zhuang, G., Zhang, Y.G., Hourigan, J., Ritts, B., Hren, M., Hou, M., Wu, M. and Kim, B.-S.*, 2019, Microbial and geochronologic constraints on the Neogene paleotopography of Northern Tibetan PlateauGeophys. Res. Lett., 46, 1312-1319.

Hollis, C. J., Dunkley Jones, T., Anagnostou, E., Bijl, P. K., Cramwinckel, M. J., Cui, Y., Dickens, G. R., Edgar, K. M., Eley, Y., Evans, D., Foster, G. L., Frieling, J., Inglis, G. N., Kennedy, E. M., Kozdon, R., Lauretano, V., Lear, C. H., Littler, K., Meckler, N., Naafs, B. D. A., Pälike, H., Pancost, R. D., Pearson, P., Royer, D. L., Salzmann, U., Schubert, B., Seebeck, H., Sluijs, A., Speijer, R., Stassen, P., Tierney, J., Tripati, A., Wade, B., Westerhold, T., Witkowski, C., Zachos, J. C., Zhang, Y. G., Huber, M., and Lunt, D. J., 2019, The DeepMIP contribution to PMIP4: methodologies for selection, compilation and analysis of latest Paleocene and early Eocene climate proxy data, incorporating version 0.1 of the DeepMIP databaseGeosci. Model Dev., 12, 3149-3206.


Zhang, Y.G., and Liu, X.*, 2018, Export depth of the TEX86 signalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 33, 666-671.

Shen, J., Pearson, A., Henkes, G., Zhang, Y.G., Chen, K., Li, D., Wankel, S.D., Finney, S.C., and Shen, Y., 2018, Improved efficiency of the biological pump as a trigger for the late Ordovician glaciationNature Geosci., 11, 510-514

Pearson, P. and IODP Expedition 363 Scientific Party, 2018, A deep-sea agglutinated foraminifer tube constructed with planktonic foraminifer shells of a single speciesJournal of Micropaleontology, 37, 97-104


Zhang, Y.G., Pagani, M., Henderiks, J., and Ren, H., 2017, A long history of equatorial deep-water upwelling in the Pacific OceanEarth Planet. Sci. Lett. 467, 1-9. 

Zhuang, G., Pagani, M. and Zhang, Y.G., 2017, Monsoonal upwelling in the western Arabian Sea since the middle-late MioceneGeology, 45, 655-658.

Zhang, Y.G., 2017, Compound-specific isotope analysis, In: White W. (eds) Encyclopedia of Geochemistry. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Cham

Wang, J.-X., Xie, W., Zhang, Y.G., Meador, T.B., Zhang, C.L., 2017, Evaluating production of cyclopentyl tetraethers by Marine Group II Euryarchaeota in the Pearl River estuary and coastal South China Sea: Potential impact on the TEX86 paleothermometerFrontiers in Microbiology, 8, 2077. 

Rosenthal, Y., Holbourn, A., Kulhanek, D.K., and Expedition 363 Scientific Party, 2017, International Ocean Discovery Program, Expedition 363 Preliminary Report: Western Pacific Warm Pool


Pearson, A., Hurley, S.J., Shah Walter, S.R., Kusch, S., Lichtin, S., and Zhang, Y.G., 2016, Stable carbon isotope ratios of intact GDGTs indicate heterogeneous sources to marine sedimentsGeochimi. Cosmochimi. Acta, 181, 18-35.

Zhang, Y.G., Pagani, M., and Wang, Z., 2016, Ring Index: A new strategy to evaluate the integrity of TEX86 paleothermometryPaleoceanography, 31, 220-232.


Da, J.W., Zhang, Y.G., Wang, H.T., Balsam, W., and Ji, J.F., 2015, An early Pleistocene atmospheric CO2 record based on pedogenic carbonate from the Chinese loess depositsEarth Planet. Sci. Lett., 426, 69-75.


Zhang, Y.G., Pagani, M., and Liu, Z., 2014, Response to comment on “A 12-million-year temperature history of the tropical Pacific Ocean”: Science, 346, 1467-b.

Zhang, Y.G., Pagani, M., and Liu, Z., 2014, A 12-million-year temperature history of the tropical Pacific OceanScience, 343, 84-86.

Kluge, T., Affek, H., Zhang, Y.G., Dublyansky, Y., Spötl, C., Immenhauser, A., and Richter, D.K., 2014, Clumped isotope thermometry of cryogenic cave carbonatesGeochimi. Cosmochimi. Acta, 126, 541-554.


Schouten, S. et al., (69 coauthors including Zhang, Y.G.), 2013, An interlaboratory study of TEX86 and BIT analysis of sediments, extracts and standard mixturesGeophys. Geochem. Geosyst., 14, 5263-5285.

Zhang, Y.G., Pagani, M., Liu, Z., Bohaty, S., and DeConto, R., 2013, A 40-million-year history of atmospheric CO2Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A, 371, 20130096.

2011 and Earlier

Zhang, Y.G., Zhang, C.L., Liu, X.-L., Li, L., Hinrichs, K.-U., and Noakes,J.E., 2011, Methane Index: A tetraether archaeal lipid biomarker indicator for detecting the instability of marine gas hydratesEarth Planet. Sci. Lett., 307, 525-534.

Boyd, E.S., Pearson, A., Pi, Y.D., Li, W.-J., Zhang, Y.G., He, L., Zhang, C.L., and Geesey, G.G., 2011, Temperature and pH controls on glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether lipid composition in the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeote Acidilobus sulfurireducensExtremophiles, 15, 59-65.

Zhang, Y.G., Ji, J.F., Balsam, W.L., Liu, L.W. and Chen J., 2009, Mid-Pliocene Asian monsoon intensification and the onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciationGeology, 37, 599-602.

Zhang Y.G., Ji, J.F., Balsam, W.L. Liu, L.W. and Chen, J., 2007, High-resolution hematite and goethite record from ODP 1143, South China Sea: Co-evolution of monsoonal precipitation and El Niño over the last 600,000 yearsEarth Planet. Sci. Lett., 264, 136-150.


Ph.D. Yale University, 2014

M.Phil. Yale University, 2012

B.S. Nanjing University, 2007


F.W. Clarke Medal, Geochemical Society, 2022

Philip Orville Prize, Yale University, 2015

Karl Turekian Prize, Yale University, 2014

Ziff Environmental Fellowship, Harvard University, 2014-2016

Schalnger Fellowship, U.S. Science Support Program for Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, 2012-2014

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