Climate and Ecosystem Change

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Correcting Our Course

As the climate changes, so does the ecosystem. Penn State researchers work to manage the risks of anthropogenic, or human-driven, climate change and the risks it poses.

Researching the Changes

Managing the risks of anthropogenic climate change poses significant challenges both now and in the future. Warmer and more extreme weather events will increase the risk of natural disturbances, increase the burden of pests and pathogens, threaten public health, and expose vulnerabilities in critical infrastructural systems. The burden of climate resilience and adaptation will fall unequally and inequitably, burdening people of color and rural and poor communities disproportionately.

Penn State has the critical mass to become a world leader in climate and ecosystem change. IEE’s commitment to supporting interdisciplinary research in energy and the environment means we have a unique opportunity to identify solutions to these impacts across natural, social, and built systems. 

Major initiatives within this theme include but are not limited to climate variability and change, ecosystem productivity and biodiversity, stressors and resilience, food and water security, and polar science.

    Penn State ranked fourth in the U.S. and 32nd in the world out of 1115 international institutions that participated in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings, placing the University in the top 3% of universities worldwide. 

    Climate and Ecosystem Change Research


    Featured IEE Researchers

    Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education
    Associate Professor, Plant Science

    Climate and Ecosystem Change News

    Featured Stories

    Interdisciplinary projects awarded seed grants from IEE


    The Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) has awarded seed grants to 22 groups of interdisciplinary researchers for the 2020-21 award cycle. This year, seed grants were awarded to proposals focusing on at least one of IEE’s five strategic research themes — Climate and Ecosystem Change, Health and the Environment, Integrated Energy Systems, Urban Systems, and Water and Biogeochemical Cycles.

    Artificial intelligence predicts river water quality with weather data


    A Penn-State led team developed an artificial intelligence model to forecast water quality in remote rivers and streams, which could lead to a better understanding of how rivers are reacting to human disturbances and climate change.

    Mentions: Li Li, Chaopeng Shen

    Building Convergence in Climate Science

    IEE and Erica Smithwick hosted a community forum on Building Convergence in Climate Science. A brief introduction was followed by three breakout groups:

    • Mitigation: What efforts exist to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases?
    • Resilience: From local to global, where can we absorb the stresses of climate change or adapt, reorganize, and evolve?
    • Impacts: What are the biggest impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human societies?

    Each breakout group explored five topics:

    • Convergent Research Opportunities (Thematic): Where do climate researchers have opportunities to align their efforts?
    • Current Penn State Assets: What is available at Penn State to continue work in climate mitigation, resilience, and impact?
    • Barriers to Action: What, if anything, hinders your ability to further your climate work?
    • Recommendations: What do you see as opportunities for climate work at Penn State?
    • Exemplar Success Stories: Where have you seen climate work shine?

     Breakout Group Outcomes

    Communicating Climate in a Complex World

    Four leading experts—an atmospheric scientist, an archaeologist, a coral reef biologist, and a professor of media studies—share their diverse perspectives on what needs to be most urgently communicated about climate change now.

    Join us for an in-depth climate change panel discussion as scientists and journalists relate their experiences communicating their research with the media and other audiences.