Climate and Ecosystem Change

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Correcting Our Course

As the climate changes, so do the earth's ecosystems. Penn State researchers work to understand, model, and manage the risks of anthropogenic, or human-driven, climate change.

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 be 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 is dedicating research and its own activities to do everything possible to reduce carbon emissions. Penn State researchers, staff, and students are already addressing the challenges brought on by carbon emissions. It is Penn State's commitment to continue this important work.

    Climate and Ecosystem Change Research


    Featured IEE Researchers

    Professor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering
    Associate Professor of Biology, Biology

    Climate and Ecosystem Change News

    Featured Stories

    How Penn State is addressing climate change on WPSU’s ‘Digging Deeper’ Sept. 26


    The ways Penn State is addressing global climate change will be discussed during the eighth season premiere of President Eric Barron’s monthly WPSU show, “Digging Deeper,” on Sunday, Sept. 26.

    Task force created to significantly reduce Penn State's carbon emissions


    A Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force has been created to reconsider Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions goal with a view toward setting a more aggressive target as well as a revised timeframe.

    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.