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.

From Research to Impact

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

Verne M. Willaman Professor, Biology
Professor, John and Willie Leone Department of Energy & Mineral Engineering (EME)

Climate and Ecosystem Change News

Featured Stories

Institutes partner on seed grants to promote computational climate research


Penn State faculty investigating the climate are encouraged to apply for the IEE-RISE 2022 Climate Seed Grant Program to receive consulting time from the RISE (Research Innovations with Scientists and Engineers) team.

Mentions: Erica Smithwick

Penn State to undertake research on embodied carbon in cities


Researchers at Penn State are set to undertake a study of the environmental impact of construction. The interdisciplinary team, led by associate professor Rahman Azari from the university’s architecture school, will study the embodied carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation, and construction of materials used in urban buildings, as well as their demolition.

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.