GETTING CURIOUS | How Cool are Caves? with Professor Kathleen R. Johnson


Getting Curious is going spelunking! Caves are full of evidence about our Earth’s past: they can tell us about monsoons in Laos and sea surface temperatures in Mexico over tens of thousands of years ago. They can also help predict our climate future. This week, Professor Kathleen R. Johnson takes us through the incredible world of caves and shares what it’s like to scale 200-foot ladders, kayak all day in the dark, and encounter pythons, big ass spiders, and other creatures along the way—all in the name of science!

Kathleen Johnson is a Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She is a geochemist and a paleoclimatologist who specializes in reconstructing past climate changes using stalagmites from tropical and monsoon regions, with current projects in Laos, Vietnam, and Mexico. In addition, she directs the new UCI CLIMATE Justice initiative which aims to culturally transform the geosciences through training postbaccalaureate and PhD Fellows in community-engaged research practices and environmental justice.

You can follow Professor Johnson on Twitter @cavesandclimate, and on Threads @kathleen.r.johnson. For more information on her work, check out her lab website and department website.

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Curious for more? Check out these episodes next:

How Major Are Volcanoes?

What’s It Like To Survive An Earthquake?

Does Groundwater Go With The Flow?

How Does Dust Impact Earth’s Climate?

Transcripts for each episode are available at

Find books from Getting Curious guests at

Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our producer is Chris McClure. Our associate producer is Allison Weiss. Our engineer is Nathanael McClure. Production support from Julie Carrillo, Samantha Martinez, and Anne Currie.

Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to

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