COPE Laboratory - Research Overview

Dr. Kohfeld is interested in understanding historical and long-term changes in the Earths climate system. This work operates on two scales: (a) understanding the global carbon cycle, and (b) exploring the regional changes in climate as they relate to extreme weather events and changes in regional lake systems. Her research focuses on:

Natural and Anthropogenic Changes in the Carbon Cycle.

The goal of this research is to use knowledge of past, natural variations in ocean carbon cycle to better understand how biogeochemical processes operate under widely different physical environmental conditions. This research will help to understand the relationships between the global carbon cycle and climate in the future, provide a vigorous test for our models of the earth system, and provide insights into potential methods of mitigating the effects of global climate change. Current and past projects include:
  - Biogeochemical links between climate, ocean productivity, and carbon cycling
  - Ecosystem impacts of coastal ocean acidification
  - Carbon storage in coastal wetlands and lake sediments in western Canada - visit us on instagram, twitter, or facebook
  - Influence of Ice Age dust on nutrient cycling in the Southern Hemisphere oceans
  - Human and climate influences on fire frequency, vegetation, and carbon storage in western Canada

Assessing and Adapting to Extreme Weather Conditions in the Pacific Northwest
The goal of this research is to understand recent trends and variations in extreme weather events - such as intense winds, precipitation events, and high temperatures - in order to better inform and prepare communities for the future infrastructure, land-use planning, and public safety decisions that may be needed in light of changes resulting from climate change influences on BCs regional weather patterns. Specific projects related to this research area include:
  - Historical changes in typical and extreme wind speed behavior in the Pacific Northwest
  - Interannual variability in wind speed and precipitation in British Columbia
  - Historical patterns in wind-driven upwelling along the North American Pacific Coast
  - Paleo-tempestology of Pineapple Express storms
  - Hydrometeorological influences on debris flows in Chilliwack, BC
  - Secondary effects of climate change on human and ecosystem health: A risk-based approach

The Global Dust Cycle
Dust production and dust storms affect the global climate system and can also have tremendous economic and social impacts on regional scales: dust obscures visibility, impacts agriculture, and affects respiratory health. The primary objectives of this research are to (a) quantify changes soil dust on a range of temporal (decadal to millennial) and spatial (regional to global) scales, (b) determine which climatic and land-surface conditions influence dust emissions, and (c) use this information to help predict future changes in dust emissions, both regionally and globally. Current projects include:
  - Changes in the frequency of extreme wind events during the Dust Bowl

Students have been involved in every one of these research projects which involve the development of environmental databases, computational data mining, field data collection, laboratory experimentation and data analysis. Through work on these projects, members of the COPE lab have collaborated internationally with Earth System modelers, physical oceanographers, applied ecologists, geochemists, and hydrologists. They have worked with members of agencies such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Hydro, Parks Canada, Environment Canada, and Metro Vancouver.