For three decades, Chris Field has pioneered novel approaches to ecosystem research to understand climate and environmental changes. He is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology on the Stanford University campus—home to a small, but remarkably productive team of researchers who investigate the basics of climate change. Field has authored more than 200 scientific publications and is cochair of the U. N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2. The IPCC Fourth Assessment, for which Field was a coordinating author, was published in 2007. He was coeditor of the March 2012 IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), and he  is overseeing the Working Group 2 report on the predicted impacts of climate change for the IPCC Fifth Assessment, published in 2014.

Field routinely testifies before U. S. Congressional committees and is a world-renowned “go to” expert on climate science and sustainability. He is sought by major media outlets to explain his work and comment on the work of other researchers. He interviews have appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, CNN and leading news and science radio programs.

Field’s research looks at the interactions among the climate, the carbon cycle, and ecosystem processes, from the molecular to the global scale. His work includes major field experiments on responses of California grassland to multi-factor global change, integrative studies on the global carbon cycle, and assessments of impacts of climate change on agriculture. His model research includes studies on the global distribution of carbon sources and sinks and studies on environmental consequences of expanding reliance on biomass for energy supply.

Field received his A.B in biology from Harvard and his Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University. In 2013 he was awarded one of Germany’s most prestigious prizes, the Max Planck Research Prize. He is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and was elected Member, US National Academy of Sciences in 2001. In 2000, he was selected by the Ecological Society of America as the Aldo Leopold Fellow among other honors. Learn more at http://dge.stanford.edu/labs/fieldlab/

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January 26, 2017

Washington, DC—New remote sensing maps of the forest canopy in Peru test the strength of current forest protections and identify new regions for conservation effort, according to a report led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner published in Science.

Asner and his Carnegie Airborne Observatory team used their signature technique, called airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy, to identify preservation targets by undertaking a new approach to study global ecology—one that links a forest’s variety of species to the strategies for survival and growth employed by canopy trees and other plants. Or, to put it in scientist-speak, their approach connects biodiversity and functional diversity.

January 17, 2017

Washington, D.C.—Global Ecology NSF Fellow Mary Whelan has been honored with Carnegie’s fifth Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Award. These prizes are made through nominations from the department directors and are chosen by the Office of the President. Whelan was awarded the prize for both her scientific and cultural contributions to the Carnegie community.

Whelan’s work on atmospheric trace gas biogeochemistry shows an enormous breadth of skills, knowledge, and curiosity. She asks both “how do we measure it?” and “what does it tell us about the world?”—two scientific questions that are increasingly “siloed”  in the environmental sciences. She spends hours of

November 14, 2016

Washington, DC—New research from two Carnegie scientists has serious implications for the development of management strategies to reduce nutrient runoff in waterways and coastal areas.

Human activities, including agriculture and fossil fuel use, have completely altered the biochemical cycle of nitrogen. In this cycle, nitrogen circulates in various forms through terrestrial, aquatic, and atmospheric systems. In the United States, the amount of nitrogen originating from human sources, particularly fertilizer, is four times the amount that comes from natural sources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 28 percent of streams and 20 percent of lakes around the

October 4, 2016

Stanford, CA— What would we do differently if sea level were to rise one foot per century versus one foot per decade? Until now, most policy and research has focused on adapting to specific amounts of climate change and not on how fast that climate change might happen.

Using sea-level rise as a case study, researchers at Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology have developed a quantitative model that considers different rates of sea-level rise, in addition to economic factors, and shows how consideration of rates of change affect optimal adaptation strategies. If the sea level will rise slowly, it could still make sense to build near the shoreline, but if the sea level is going to

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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The bloom began in the western region in mid-July and covered an area of 230 square miles (600 km2). At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to over 1930 square miles (5000 km2). Its peak intensity was over 3 times greater than any other bloom on record. The scientists predicted that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience

Coral reefs are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to pollution, warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing. Reefs use a mineral called aragonite, a naturally occurring form of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, to make their skeletons.  When carbon dioxide, CO2, from the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, it forms carbonic acid—the same stuff that makes soda fizz--making the ocean more acidic and thus more difficult for many marine organisms to grow their shells and skeletons and threatening coral reefs globally.

Ken

Chris Field is a co-principal investigator of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in northern California. The site, designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change, hosts a number of studies of the potential effects from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, elevated temperature, increased precipitation, and increased nitrogen deposition. The site houses experimental plots that replicate all possible combinations of the four treatments and additional sampling sites that control for the effects of project infrastructure. Studies focus on several integrated ecosystem responses to the

Until now, computer models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a global scale. They are based on estimating a measure for plant energy called gross primary production (GPP), which is the rate at which plants capture and store a unit of chemical energy as biomass over a specific time. Joe Berry was part of a team that took an entirely new approach by using satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis as shown by the artwork.

The plant produces fluorescent light when sunlight excites the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Satellite instruments sense this fluorescence yielding a direct

Peter van Keken studies the thermal and chemical evolution of the Earth. In particularly he looks at the causes and consequences of plate tectonics; element modeling of mantle convection,  and the dynamics of subduction zones--locations where one tectonic plate slides under another. He also studies mantle plumes; the integration of geodynamics with seismology; geochemistry and mineral physics. He uses parallel computing and scientific visualization in this work.

He received his BS and Ph D from the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands. Prior to joining Carnegie he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan.

Peter Driscoll studies the evolution of Earth’s core and magnetic field including magnetic pole reversal. Over the last 20 million or so years, the north and south magnetic poles on Earth have reversed about every 200,000, to 300,000 years and is now long overdue. He also investigates the Earth’s inner core structure; core-mantle coupling; tectonic-volatile cycling; orbital migration—how Earth’s orbit moves—and tidal dissipation—the dissipation of tidal forces between two closely orbiting bodies. He is also interested in planetary interiors, dynamos, upper planetary atmospheres and exoplanets—planets orbiting other stars. He uses large-scale numerical simulations in much of his research

Andrew Newman works in several areas in extragalactic astronomy, including the distribution of dark matter--the mysterious, invisible  matter that makes up most of the universe--on galaxies, the evolution of the structure and dynamics of massive early galaxies including dwarf galaxies, ellipticals and cluster. He uses tools such as gravitational lensing, stellar dynamics, and stellar population synthesis from data gathered from the Magellan, Keck, Palomar, and Hubble telescopes.

Newman received his AB in physics and mathematics from the Washington University in St. Louis, and his MS and Ph D in astrophysics from Caltech. Before becomming a staff astronomer in 2015, he was a

Gwen Rudie studies the chemical and physical properties of very distant, so-called  high-redshift galaxies and their surrounding circumgalactic medium. She is primarily an observational astronomer working on the analysis and interpretation of high-resolution spectroscopy of high-redshift Quasi Stellar Objects and low to medium-resolution near-infrared and optical spectroscopy of high-redshift galaxies. She is interested in understanding the intergalactic medium as a tool for understanding galaxy evolution and the physical properties of very distant galaxies such as the composition of stars and their star formation rates

Rudie received her AB from Dartmouth College and her Ph D