Professor Jens Zinke

Jens ZinkeProfessor of Palaeobiology

  • Adjunct Senior Scientist Curtin University, Perth, Australia
  • Adjunct Senior Scientist Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia
  • Honorary Fellow of Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Research Interests

My research involves the geochemical study of marine biological (massive corals) and sedimentary archives  from the tropical oceans as recorders of environmental and climate change over the past 300 years and during the Holocene. For most of my career, I have worked on Indian Ocean coral and sediment records. This work is motivated by the need to produce reliable, long-term baseline data of sea surface temperature, ocean currents and the hydrological cycle over the tropical/subtropical oceans and how they shape patterns of biodiversity in our oceans and adjacent coasts. It is my believe that the greater scientific community would strongly benefit from enhanced national and multi-national collaborations that underpin and better utilise the unique research environment in Universities and Research Institutions. My current aspiration is to establish an international research group focussed on tropical paleoclimate research around flagship research areas where climate variability and change is of global and regional significance with the impetus on gaining more robust research output for the benefit of society. Only through such cohesion will we be able to demonstrate solid leadership to undertake ground-breaking research on past marine climate change at society-relevant time scales (seasonal, interannual, decadal) in order to understand the long-term context and impacts of future environmental change in the tropical to subtropical oceans and adjacent continents. A Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship and a German research grant, both awarded in 2018, will support my current Professorship at the University of Leicester.

Professor Zinke, diving carrying out research on coralIn the past 20 years I have led various research programs and projects as (Co-) Principal Investigator (e.g. NWO SINDOCOM and NWO CLIMATCH in The Netherlands, WIOMSA-MASMA Corals and Global Change in East Africa; DFG and DAAD in Germany). In my previous position as Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Freie Universität Berlin, I lead a research group in high-resolution marine paleoclimatology and provide support to a Working group on Geobiology and Anthropocene research. Through my appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University Australia (since April 2016), deriving from the Curtin Senior Research Fellowship, I lead an international working group on marine paleoclimate research with a strong focus on the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool.

Current projects

  • DFG Germany funded project SIOPACT 2018-2021 transferred to the University of Leicester ‘Developing a 250 year climate record for the Southeastern Indian Ocean sector of the Indo-Pacific warm pool and its global climate teleconnections’ with 1 PhD student opportunity starting in 2019
  • Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship 2019-2024 ‘Taking the pulse of the tropical oceans through the corals lens’ with 1 PhD student opportunity starting in 2019
  • ‘The Baram project’, Curtin University Sarawak (Malaysia) and Perth (Australia), funded by CSRI Malaysia and DAAD PPP Australia-Germany ‘Climate and Humans’, 2016-ongoing
  • ‘Modern and Holocene coral paleoclimatology in Bocas del Toro, Panama’ with STRI Panama and FU Berlin (Germany), 2017-ongoing


Due to my extensive network I was able to build a wide range of international collaborations, establishing multiple partnerships/associations with analytical facilities (e.g. ICP-OES Lab University of Kiel, Royal NIOZ Luminescence scanning facility, UWA AGFIOR Perth; ANU Canberra Laser Lab) and environmental research oriented organisations (e.g. WIOMSA; National Geographic; Wildlife Conservation Society; Department Parks and Wildlife Australia) in the Indian Ocean. Curtin University appointed me as Adjunct Associate Professor in April 2016 to advance the collaboration with the Marine Science research groups at the University that I started under the awarded Curtin Senior Research Fellowship. I was appointed an Honorary Fellow in recognition of my comprehensive work in the southern Indian Ocean, where I aim to strengthen the collaboration with The University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) in the field of paleoclimate science (marine-terrestrial. Received a Collaboration Award (2014) with University of Queensland, ARC CoE CEED. Currently I also collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama on modern and fossil coral paleoclimatology.


I have been interviewed on many occasions by local TV (ABC Australia, NPO/VRT Dutch/Belgium) and various radio programs. Also been filmed for a BBC/Discovery Channel documentary (‘BBC Oceans’). Have delivered numerous talks, seminars and speeches for conferences, seminars and acted as session convener. Delivered high-profile invited talks at The Royal Society London, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Amsterdam. A track record of several years of university classroom communication. Participated in forum discussions open to the general public on topics within or close to my research field (e.g. Plastic pollution, Marine Conservation, Climate Policy). Attendance of and participation in Open-day activities at the university and research centres.

Professional Activities and Research Awards

  • Editorial Board Member (since March 2014) for Nature Scientific Reports for Earth and Environmental change and Coral Reefs studies.
  • PAGES2k (since 2013) member of the high-resolution archives working group
  • Panel Reviewer for the NSF, United States
  • Reviewer for Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Geology, Scientific Reports, Geophysical Research Letters, Paleoceanography, G-cubded, International Journal of Earth Sciences, Paleo3, Coral Reefs, Quarternary Research, Nature Communications, Nature Climate Change etc.
  • 2019-2024 Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship
  • 2018-2021 DFG SIOPACT (Germany) grant
  • 2017-2018 DAAD-PPP Australia-Germany Exchange
  • 2016/17 Curtin University Visiting Professor Fellowship
  • 2016 Curtin University Adjunct Senior Fellow
  • 2015 Honorary Research Fellow of the Wits University, South Africa
  • 2014 Curtin Senior Research Fellowship
  • 2014 Collaboration Award with University of Queensland, ARC CoE CEED
  • 2011 Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre Fellowship, University of Western Australia
  • 2007 KNAW Training and mobility fellowship for research in Indonesia
  • 2005 KNAW Schure-Beijerinck Popping Fund scholarship for fieldwork
  • 2003 EU postdoctoral Fellowship EU-research and training network STOPFEN

Research Grants

  • 2018 Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship
  • 2018 DFG Germany research grant SIOPACT
  • 2018 FU Berlin ‘Land-Ocean climate  linkages Indian Ocean’
  • 2018 K+S Salt Australia ‘Past water quality and its drivers for Urala coast, WA’
  • 2018 Climate Eparses TAAF (France) research cruise 2019
  • 2017 DAAD Australia-Germany exchange ‘Climate and Humans’
  • 2016 The Baram project Curtin University Sarawak (Malaysia)
  • 2015 Hotspots of thermal stress, Curtin University Senior Fellowship, Perth, Australia
  • 2014 Mauritius archeology and climate, Stanford-UWA exchange grant
  • 2014 West Australia Coral resilience workshop, UWA Perth, Australia
  • 2013 JSPS Academic Exchange with Hokkaido University 2 postdocs 1 year
  • 2011 Towards Bayesian projections of future bleaching in the western Indian Ocean, WIOMSA-MASMA grant
  • 2011 Marine Climate change off Western Australia, UWA OI Fellowship, Australia
  • 2010 Coral Reefs and Global Change, WIOMSA-MASMA grant
  • 2010 NWO ‘CLIMATCH’, The Netherlands
  • 2006 NOW ‘SINDOCOM’, The Netherlands

Publications (selection)

  • Zinke, J., Pfeiffer, M, Felis, T. (2018) Reconstructing climate and environment from coral archives, Eos, 99,
  • Zinke, J., Gilmour, J.P., Fisher, R., Maina, J., Darling, E., Stat, M., Puotinen, M., Richards, Z., Mcclanahan, T.R., Beger, M., Moore, C., Graham, N.A.J., Feng, M., Hobbs, J.P.A., Evans, S., Field, S., Shedrawi, G., Babcock, R., Wilson, S.K. (2018) Gradients of disturbance and environmental conditions shape coral community structure for south-eastern Indian Ocean reefs. Diversity & Distributions, doi:10.1111/ddi.12714.
  • Hennekam, R., Zinke, J., ten Have, M., Brummer, G.J.A. and Reichart, G.-J. (2018) Cocos (Keeling) corals reveal 200 years of multi-decadal modulation of southeast Indian Ocean hydrology by Indonesian Throughflow. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 33, DOI: 10.1002/2017PA003181.
  • Pfeiffer, M., Zinke, J., Dullo, W.-C., Timm, O., Cahyarini, S.Y., Latif, M. and Weber, M. E. (2017) Indian Ocean corals reveal crucial role of World War II bias for twentieth century warming estimates. Scientific Reports 7, 14434, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14352-6.
  • Abram, N.A., McGregor, H.V., Tierney, J.E., Evans, M.N., McKay, N.P., Kaufman, D.S. and the PAGES 2k Consortium (Thirumalai, K., Martrat, B., Goosse, H., Phipps, S.J.,  Steig, E.J. Halimeda Kilbourne, K., Saenger, C.P., Zinke, J., Leduc, G., Addison, J.A., Mortyn, P.G., Seidenkrantz, M.-S., Sicre, M.-A., Selvaraj, K., Filipsson, H.L., Neukom, R., Gergis, J., Curran, M.A.J., von Gunten, L. (2016) Early onset of Industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents. Nature 536, 411-418.
  • Zinke, J., Hoell, A., Lough, J., Feng, M., Kuret, A., Clarke, H., Ricca, V., McCulloch, M.T. (2015) Coral record of southeastern Indian Ocean marine heatwaves with intensified Western Pacific temperature gradient. Nature Communications 6, doi: 10.1038/ncomms9562.
  • Neukom, R., J. Gergis, D. Karoly, H. Wanner, M. Curran, J. Elbert, F. González-Rouco, B. Linsley, A. Moy, I. Mundo, C. Raible, E. Steig, Tas van Ommen, T. Vance, R. Villalba, J. Zinke and D. Frank (2014) Inter-hemispheric temperature variability over the last millennium. Nature Climate Change 4, doi:10.1038/nclimate2174.
  • Zinke, J., Rountrey, A., Feng, M., Xie, S.P., Dissard, D., Rankenburg, K., Lough, J. and McCulloch, M.T. (2014) Corals record long-term Leeuwin Current variability during Ningaloo Niño/Niña since 1795. Nature Communications 5, 3607, doi:10.1038/ncomms4607.

Full Publications List



  • Funded through 2 JSPS grants I have supervised 2 postdocs at UWA from Japan (Kentaro Tanaka, Kohki Sowa) during a 1 year exchange which I organized with colleagues from Univ. Tokyo (T. Watanabe) and Univ. Sapporo (K. Shirai).
  • I have also supervised 2 postdocs from Indonesia (LIPI Bandung) on coral geochemistry and environmental modelling as part of a training program within a KNAW-SPIN funded project at the VUA (Netherlands), Naturalis and Royal NIOZ.


  • I have co-supervised PhD student Joyce Ong at the Australian Institute of Marine Science on fish otolith research. Supervision of 4 PhD students at the VUA and Royal NIOZ (Jop Brijker, Craig Grove, Roel Nagtegaal, Ulrike Fallet). Two obtained their PhD degree (Grove, Fallet), while two moved into Industry jobs shortly before graduating. Supervision of 1 PhD student (ongoing) from the University of Dar-es-Salaam and Institute for Marine Sciences Zanzibar (Ophery Ilomo).

Masters Students

  • Supervision of 3 Masters Students at FU Berlin (C. Braoun, H. Krawczyk, V. Skiba).
  • Supervision of 1 Masters Student at UWA in 2012-2014 (A. Kuret).
  • Supervision of Masters Student at UCT Cape Town, South Africa (A. Nicolas).
  • Supervision of 5 Masters research thesis in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and  2010 on various aspects of coral climatology and stalagmite research at the VU Amsterdan, UvA Amsterdam and NIOZ (Jasper Wassenburg, Charlotte Spliethoff, Alexander Prick, Tim Scheufen, Sebastian Kasper).

Bachelor Students

  • Supervision of 3 Bachelor Students at FU Berlin (C. Gey; O. Voigt, Lucas Eck).
  • Supervision of 2 Honours Student at UWA between 2011 and 2014 (E. Rogers, H. Clarke).
  • Supervision of 4 bachelor research thesis between 2006 and 2011 on various aspects of coral and stalagmite climatology at the VUA, UvA and NIOZ (Ingrid Arts, Carol Joval, Laura Glasbergen, Pim Kaaskes).

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