Karen Kohfeld

Director and Professor, School of Environmental Science
Professor, Resource and Environmental Management
Professor, Resource and Environmental Management


  • BSc, Geology/Biology, Brown University
  • MA and MPhil, Geology, Columbia University
  • PhD, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University


Dr. Kohfeld is interested in understanding natural variability and biogeochemical linkages within the ocean and climate system, in order to better assess earth system responses to anthropogenic perturbations. Her research focuses on natural and anthropogenic changes in the ocean carbon cycle, the influence of climate and land surface conditions on atmospheric dust, and assessing and adapting to extreme weather conditions in British Columbia.

Projects related to this research have involved:

  • The influence of physical and biological ocean conditions on the global carbon cycle over the last 140,000 years
  • Sea ice dynamics in the Southern Ocean during Ice Age cycles
  • Carbon storage in coastal wetlands and lacustrine environments of western Canada
  • Changes in climate and fire behavior over the last 10,000 years in western Canada
  • Frequency, intensity, and impacts of extreme weather events in British Columbia
  • Wind-speed behavior in the mid-Continental USA during the last 60 years

Many of these projects involve the development of environmental databases, computational data mining, analysis and manipulation of existing data, and collaboration with geologists, marine biologists, sedimentologists, geochemists, and ocean, atmosphere, and biogeochemical modelers.

Sample publications with graduate students (COPE lab members in bold, students underlined):

Other key publications:


Summer 2024

Fall 2024

This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.