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School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment

Climate Change

Studies of modern and ancient climate change using a variety of biotic and geochemical proxies preserved in marine, lacustrine and terrestrial records. Also examination of the effects of climate change on biotic and abiotic systems, and human social adaptation to those disruptions. Faculty are actively involved in research on paleooceanography, paleoclimatology, and biological and societal responses to climate change in areas all around the globe.

Climate Change Faculty


David Barbeau

Associate Professor, SEOE. Clastic sedimentology, tectonics and sedimentation, basin analysis, thermochronology, sediment provenance, and tectonics of the southern Andes and Antarctica.


Claudia Benitez-Nelson

Biogeochemical cycling and export fluxes of nutrients. Global climate change in past and present day environments. Utilization of cosmogenic and uranium series radioisotopes to study ecological processes. Development of new analytical techniques.


Ronald Benner

My research focuses on the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous cycles in aquatic environments, from wetlands to the open ocean. Experimental approaches are used to characterize biogeochemical processes and the roles of microorganisms as key players in the production and transformation of organic matter. Geochemical approaches are used to integrate processes over space and time.


Carol Boggs

We focus on evolutionary, functional and behavioral ecology, with applications to conservation and environmental issues. The major question is how environmental change and variation affect life history traits, population structure and dynamics, and species interactions over ecological and evolutionary time. Environments vary on multiple spatial and temporal scales. Additionally, both the abiotic and biotic components of the environment may vary, for example in cases of species' invasions.


Subrahmanyam Bulusu

My research is in Remote Sensing, Satellite Oceanography, Physical Oceanography and Air-Sea Interaction. My research has focused on the use of Satellite Remote Sensing for studying ocean circulation utilizing both active microwave sensors (altimeters, scatterometers, imagers) and passive optical sensors (ocean color and sea-surface-temperature), as well as in the combination of passive/active (radiometer/radar) instruments.


Kirstin Dow

I am interested in the co-production of science to inform decision-making climate change, impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation.  I work primarily with a large interdisciplinary research team, the Carolina Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA), one of the 11 NOAA-supported Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments projects. CISA addresses climate modelling, drought, human health, watershed modelling, coastal hazards, and adaptation.  My current research projects focus on understanding limits to adaptation, the role of social networks increasing adaptive capacity, analytical-deliberative processes for adaptation, and drought impacts and early warning systems.


L. Allan James

Fluvial geomorphology, Erosion and sedimentation, Water resources, Flood hydrology and Quaternary science


Camelia C. Knapp

Application of active source seismology to the structure, composition, and physical properties of the Earth's crust and upper mantle; seismic wave propagation and imaging; petroleum exploration; environmental geophysics; CO2 sequestration (CCS); hydrogeophysics; physical properties of petroleum related marine gas hydrates; Geographic Information Systems. 


James H. Knapp

Analysis of the structural and geodynamic evolution of the continental lithosphere through integration of seismic reflection and refraction data, structural analysis, and geologic data. Application of geological and geophysical analysis to exploration and production of hydrocarbons. 


John A. Kupfer

Biogeography, landscape ecology, public land and water management, spatial analysis


Dwayne Porter

Dr. Porter’s research interests include exploring and expanding the increasingly important roles that technology and technological innovations play in monitoring, assessing, modeling and managing our coastal environmental resources and associated environmental and public health issues. Dr. Porter focuses on the use of the tools of Geographic Information Sciences (GISciences) to develop and apply spatial models to study the impacts of anthropogenic and physiographic influences to coastal resources. Dr. Porter has directed /directs several federally-funded multi-disciplinary projects focusing on land use and land cover patterns and how changes in land-use activities impact estuarine health and associated human health concerns.  


Jennifer R. Pournelle

Millennial-scale urban sustainability and complex societies, studied through: landscape archaeology, anthropological archaeology, archaeology of the Middle East, cultural ecology, historical ecology, as they relate to wetland environments. Interpreting and relating air photography and satellite imagery to other paleoenvironmental data, toward reconstructing past landscapes.


Ryan Rykaczewski

Fisheries Oceanography; Observation of long-term changes in ocean biogeochemistry and climate; Large-scale changes in oceanic and atmospheric properties of the North Pacific; Remote forcing of coastal conditions; Ocean acidification and deoxygenation; Size-structured interactions in ocean ecosystems

Katherine Ryker

Katherine Ryker

Dr. Ryker explores connections between reformed classroom practices, student learning, teaching beliefs and the implementation of inquiry-based labs in introductory geoscience lectures and labs. Her research interests also include online educational resources, professional development, and student learning strategies and engagement in large introductory courses. She is part of a team looking at the connection between teaching beliefs and practices for geoscience faculty members at a variety of institutions across the country.


Howie Scher

Cenozoic ocean history , Role of the ocean during abrupt climate events, Changes in seawater chemistry, Evolution of the Southern Ocean and Antarctic cryosphere, Spatial and temporal variations in the distribution of seawater trace elements and isotopes (TEI’s), Developing and calibrating proxies for paleoceanography.


Robert Thunell

Reconstructing paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic conditions using deep sea sediments; measuring the production and flux of sediments in the ocean; calibration of paleoclimate proxies.


Lori Ziolkowski

Bioavailability of Arctic soils, Biogeochemistry of darkening glacier surfaces, Environmental controls of hydrocarbon degradation