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

Maurice K. Goddard Chair of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Professor, Ecosystem Science and Management
Professor, Ecosystem Science and Management

Climate and Ecosystem Change News

Featured Stories

Dairy farmers can adapt to climate change


Dairy farmers in the Northeast — facing a warming climate that exacerbates nutrient pollution but lengthens the growing season — can reduce the environmental impact of their operations and maximize revenues by double cropping and injecting manure into the soil, rather than broadcasting it.

Mentions: Heather Karsten

'Zero Day' for California water? Not yet, but unprecedented water restrictions send a sharp warning


Long before climate change was evident, California began planning a system of canals and reservoirs to carry water from the mountains to drier farms and cities. It’s no longer enough.

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.