Ken Caldeira was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 and is world renowned for his modeling and other work on the global carbon cycle; marine biogeochemistry and chemical oceanography, including ocean acidification and the atmosphere/ocean carbon cycle; land-cover and climate change; the long-term evolution of climate and geochemical cycles; climate intervention proposals; and energy technology.

 Caldeira was a lead author for the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report and was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on carbon capture and storage. He was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America's Climate Choices report, and participated in the UK Royal Society geoengineering panel in 2009 and ocean acidification panel in 2005. He was a lead author of the 2007 U.S. “State of the Carbon Cycle Report.

Caldeira was invited by the National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board to deliver the 2007 Roger Revelle Lecture, “What Coral Reefs Are Dying to Tell Us About CO2 and Ocean Acidification.” In 2010, Caldeira was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

From the early 1990s to 2005, Caldeira was with the Energy and Environment Directorate at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he was awarded the Edward Teller Fellowship (2004), the highest award given by that laboratory. Caldeira did post-doctoral research at Penn State University and in the Energy and Environment Directorate of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Caldeira received his B.A. from Rutgers College and both his M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from New York University. In the 1980’s, Caldeira held a number of positions developing computer software for various clients in New York’s financial district. Learn more at http://dge.stanford.edu/labs/caldeiralab/    

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Anna Michalak
August 19, 2020

Palo Alto, CA—Anna Michalak has been named the Director of Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology. As a world-renowned researcher, her leadership will be invaluable as Carnegie works to rebuild the department and to establish its new home in Pasadena.

Michalak's work centers on characterizing the emissions and cycling of greenhouse gases on scales ranging from urban to global, making it possible to track and anticipate changes in carbon emissions and uptake. She also explores the impacts of climate change on water quality in freshwater and coastal systems in support of water sustainability goals. These research areas demonstrate the urgent

Caltech logo
March 17, 2020

The Carnegie Institution for Science is consolidating our California research departments into an expanded presence in Pasadena. With this move, we are building on our existing relationship with Caltech, with a goal of broadening our historic collaborations in astronomy and astrophysics and pursuing new opportunities in ecology and plant biology that will support the global fight against climate change.

This plan, which affects our research operations in Pasadena and Palo Alto, reflects Carnegie’s ongoing efforts to extend our leadership in space, Earth, and life sciences and to enhance our ability to explore new frontiers.

In selecting our Pasadena location, we

Downwelling field experiment at Searsville Reservoir. Courtesy Nona Chiariello.
March 2, 2020

Washington, DC— Could pumping oxygen-rich surface water into the depths of lakes, estuaries, and coastal ocean waters help ameliorate dangerous dead zones? New work led by Carnegie’s David Koweek and Ken Caldeira and published open access by Science of the Total Environment says yes, although they caution that further research would be needed to understand any possible side effects before implementing such an approach.

When excessive nutrients from agriculture and other human activities wash into waterways, it can create a dangerous phenomenon called eutrophication. This can lead to low-oxygen dead zones called hypoxia.

“Low-oxygen dead zones are one of

Land and air pollution in Amravati, India, purchased from Shutterstock.
February 17, 2020

Washington, DC— Aerosol emissions from burning coal and wood are dangerous to human health, but it turns out that by cooling the Earth they also diminish global economic inequality, according to a new study by Carnegie’s Yixuan Zheng, Geeta Persad, and Ken Caldeira, along with UC Irvine’s Steven Davis. Their findings are published by Nature Climate Change.

Tiny particles spewed into the atmosphere by human activity, called “anthropogenic aerosols,” interact with clouds and reflect some of the Sun’s energy back into space. They have a short-term cooling effect that’s similar to how particles from major volcanic eruptions can cause global

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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.

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

Johanna Teske became the first new staff member to join Carnegie’s newly named Earth and Planets Laboratory (EPL) in Washington, D.C., on September 1, 2020. She has been a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, CA, since 2018. From 2014 to 2017 she was the Carnegie Origins Postdoctoral Fellow—a joint position between Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (now part of EPL) and the Carnegie Observatories.

Teske is interested in the diversity in exoplanet compositions and the origins of that diversity. She uses observations to estimate exoplanet interior and atmospheric compositions, and the chemical environments of their formation

Phillip Cleves’ Ph.D. research was on determining the genetic changes that drive morphological evolution. He used the emerging model organism, the stickleback fish, to map genetic changes that control skeletal evolution. Using new genetic mapping and reverse genetic tools developed during his Ph.D., Cleves identified regulatory changes in a protein called bone morphogenetic protein 6 that were responsible for an evolved increase in tooth number in stickleback. This work illustrated how molecular changes can generate morphological novelty in vertebrates.

Cleves returned to his passion for coral research in his postdoctoral work in John Pringles’ lab at Stanford

Brittany Belin joined the Department of Embryology staff in August 2020. Her Ph.D. research involved developing new tools for in vivo imaging of actin in cell nuclei. Actin is a major structural element in eukaryotic cells—cells with a nucleus and organelles —forming contractile polymers that drive muscle contraction, the migration of immune cells to  infection sites, and the movement of signals from one part of a cell to another. Using the tools developed in her Ph.D., Belin discovered a new role for actin in aiding the repair of DNA breaks in human cells caused by carcinogens, UV light, and other mutagens.

Belin changed course for her postdoctoral work, in

Evolutionary geneticist Moises Exposito-Alonso joined the Department of Plant Biology as a staff associate in September 2019. He investigates whether and how plants will evolve to keep pace with climate change by conducting large-scale ecological and genome sequencing experiments. He also develops computational methods to derive fundamental principles of evolution, such as how fast natural populations acquire new mutations and how past climates shaped continental-scale biodiversity patterns. His goal is to use these first principles and computational approaches to forecast evolutionary outcomes of populations under climate change to anticipate potential future