Climate Dynamicist
Advanced Study Program



I am a postdoctoral scientist in the Advanced Study Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. I study decadal-to-centennial timescale climate dynamics with a focus on hydroclimate over North America during the Common Era. Specifically, my work combines state-of-the-art coupled General Circulation Models with observed and paleoclimatic data to better understand climate dynamics on timescales that cannot be sufficiently understood using instrumental data alone. This includes features that have long timescales of variability (e.g. megadroughts) or that are rare (e.g. pan-continental droughts), as well as interannual dynamical relationships that, while potentially well characterized by observations, are non-stationary (e.g. winter-to-summer precipitation phasing in Southwestern North America and the tropical Pacific-to-North America teleconnection).


PhD, Earth Science, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, 2015*
BA and BS, high honors, Geography and Environmental Economics and Policy, UC Berkeley, 2009


*Awarded Science for Society Prize of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Columbia University
2013 AGU Fall Meeting Outstanding Student Presentatikon
Phi Beta Kappa, UC Berkeley, 2009

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Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, B.I. Cook, R. Seager, E.R. Cook and K.J. Anchukaitis, Internal ocean-atmosphere variability drives megadroughts in Western North America, Geophysical Research Letters, 2016.

Coats, S. and J.S. Mankin, The challenge of accurately quantifying future megadrought risk in the American Southwest, Geophysical Research Letters, 2016.

Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, K.B. Karnauskas and R. Seager, The improbable but unexceptional occurrence of megadrought clustering in the American West during the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Environmental Research Letters, 2016.

Cook, B.I., E.R. Cook, J.E. Smerdon, R. Seager, A.P Williams, S. Coats, D.W. Stahle and J. Villanueva, North American Megadroughts in the Common Era: Reconstructions and Simulations, WIREs Climate Change, 2016.

Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, R. Seager, D. Griffin and B.I. Cook, Winter-to-Summer Precipitation Phasing in Southwestern North America: A Multi-Century Perspective from Paleoclimate Model-Data Comparisons, Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 2015.

J.E. Smerdon, S. Coats and T.R. Ault, Model-Dependent Spatial Skill in Pseudoproxy Experiments Testing Climate Field Reconstruction Methods for the Common Era, Climate Dynamics, 2015.

Coats, S., B.I. Cook, J.E. Smerdon and R. Seager, North American Pan-Continental Droughts in Model Simulations of the Last Millennium, Journal of Climate, 2015.

Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, B.I. Cook and R. Seager, Are Simulated Megadroughts in the North American Southwest Forced?, Journal of Climate, 2015.

Cook, B.I., J.E. Smerdon, R. Seager and S. Coats, Global Warming and 21st Century Drought, Climate Dynamics, 2014.

Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, B.I. Cook and R. Seager, Stationarity of the Tropical Pacific Teleconnection to North America in the CMIP5/PMIP3 Model Simulations, Geophysical Research Letters, 2013.

Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, R. Seager, B.I. Cook and J.F. González-Rouco, Megadroughts in Southwestern North America in Millennium-Length ECHO-G Simulations and their Comparison to Proxy Drought Reconstructions, Journal of Climate, 2013.


University of Colorado, Boulder
SEEC/MacAllister (East Campus)
4000 Discovery Drive, Boulder, CO 80303
Phone: 303-735-4387; Office: N243