Ph.D. Benjamin Runkle
Connecting the carbon, water, and energy cycles in carbon-rich northern landscapes through a sustainable research program
Mentor: Prof. Dr. Kutzbach
Abstract/ Short Project Description:
The goal of my project is to expand our understanding of the tundra and other northern landscapes in order to predict changes to the water and carbon cycles. This research provides a rigorous baseline upon which one may compare the results of expected climate and land use change and is particularly focused toward the needs of the global climate modeling community. The modeling community has suggested that the permafrost region of Russia is one of their more poorly understood regions of the world while one of the most critical – due to its scale and high carbon content.
Over the next two years, I will expand on research questions developed during my three years in Hamburg by increasing collaboration with modelers in Hamburg and field scientists from Russia. Together, these approaches offer an integrated methodology to scientific questions between and within the carbon, water, and energy cycles. This work will include new field work and careful interpretations of measurements derived from two landscapes of northern Russia. The new field data acquisition and process studies over the next two years will focus on a new landscape type for our research group, namely the annually flooded banks along the Lena River Delta. The full research program directly crosses spatial scales (soil pore to landscape), and contributes to understanding across even larger scales (several grid cells within global climate models, multiple remote sensing image pixels). Its contributions to sustainability initiatives include an expanded outreach and educational component funded in part through the KNU’s mini-grant program.
Short Research Biography:
2000: B.S.E. Civil & Environmental Engineering, Princeton University
2001: Policy analyst, The Tellus Institute, Boston
2004: M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California – Berkeley
2009: Ph.D. Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California – Berkeley
2010-2014: Post-doctoral research scientist, Institute of Soil Science, KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg
05/2013 bis 08/2014: Fellow im Postdoc-Kolleg „Sustainable Future“ des Kompetenzzentrums Nachhaltige Universität
Seit 08/2014 Assistant Professor am Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering an der University of Arkansas
Sustainability Project Key Words:
Climate change, permafrost, organic matter, biogeochemistry, hydrology, element cycling, methane, carbon dioxide, tundra, Siberia, educational outreach