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Biogeochemistry

CCR researchers are investigating global and regional biogeochemistry, with a particular focus on the carbon cycle of the land biosphere and of the oceans and Great Lakes. Using data and models, we elucidate natural carbon fluxes and the mechanisms controlling them, and work to use this information to improve predictive models.

Principal Investigators

Ankur Desai, Sara Hotchkiss, Galen McKinley, Michael Notaro

Ongoing Projects


Project: Contrasting environmental controls on regional CO2 and CH4 biogeochemistry
PI: Ankur Desai
In this NSF-funded project, we have initiated a novel study of regional methane exchange, incorporated it into an existing study of regional carbon dioxide at a 447 m tower in the upper Midwest, USA, and are using these observations to better model landscape controls on atmospheric carbon cycling.


Project: A Regional Atmospheric Continuous CO2 Network in the Rocky Mountains: Understanding Drivers of Flux Variability and Optimizing Regional Observations
PI: Ankur Desai
With funding from NOAA, our group helps maintain a continuous atmospheric CO2 observing network in the Rocky Mountains, and conducts analyses using these measurements in conjunction with models to 1) optimize carbon observational network design in the U.S. Mountain West, 2) estimate regional and monthly scale carbon fluxes for the Central Rocky Mountain and Southwestern U.S., and 3) resolve key drivers of variability and trends in carbon fluxes of mountain ecosystems, including drought, fire, and insect outbreak.


Project: Model-data synthesis and forecasting across the upper Midwest: Partitioning uncertainty and environmental heterogeneity in ecosystem carbon exchange
PI: Ankur Desai
With funding from NSF, We are developing two bioinformatics tools: 1) a scientific workflow and 2) a Bayesian data assimilation system in conjunction with the Ecosystem Demography model (ED) to better assess regional-scale high-resolution estimates of both the terrestrial carbon cycle and plant biodiversity with robust accounting of the uncertainties involved.


Project: Global trends in surface ocean pCO2
PI: Galen McKinley
Surface ocean pCO2 data is used to map the large-scale rate of ocean pCO2 change in response to growing atmospheric pCO2, and the impacts of decadal variability that can obscure these trends are assessed.


Project: Phytoplankton size and carbon export to the deep ocean
PI: Galen McKinley
Empirical relationships between phytoplankton size, as retrieved by satellite, and carbon export to the deep ocean are being developed; and these relationships are being used in a cutting-edge biogeochemical model (DARWIN) to assess global-scale impacts on the ocean carbon budget.


Project: Disturbance, succession, and nutrient availability: Patterns and mechanisms
PI: Sara Hotchkiss
This research addresses how landscape-level variations in climate and soil fertility influence the pathways and consequences of disturbance and secondary succession across montane tropical landscapes that differ in soil fertility, using forest canopy structural and chemical data from The Carnegie Airborne Observatory LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory AVIRIS (Airborne Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer), paleoecological analyses, and detailed relationships between remotely sensed variables (forest structure and foliar N) and other ecosystem variables of interest (biomass and the dynamics of multiple elements, diversity).


Project: Before globalization – Pre-contact intensive agriculture and society in Kohala, Hawai`i
PI: Sara Hotchkiss
This collaborative research project addresses the nature and consequences of interactions among landscapes, agricultural systems, and human societies over centuries in the Hawaiian Islands prior to European contact, using agricultural crop models, biogeochemical, paleoecological, and archaeological measurements, and experimental gardens within and outside a large Hawaiian dryland field system to determine: 1) how the agricultural system was organized and integrated; 2) how it was sustained for centuries prior to European contact; and 3) how it interacted with nearby irrigated systems.