Biography and area of interest

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):

  • Murphy, S., MG Pellatt, and KE Kohfeld, A 5,000-year fire history in the Strait of Georgia Lowlands, British Columbia, Canada, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution- Paleoecology 7:90 doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00090, 2019.
  • Postlethwaite VR, AE McGowan, KE Kohfeld, CLK Robinson, MG Pellatt, Low blue carbon storage in eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows on the Pacific Coast of Canada. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0198348. 2018.
  •  Savo, V., D Lepofsky, J Brenner, KE Kohfeld, HJ Bailey, and K Lertzman, Observations of climate change among subsistence-oriented communities around the world, Nature Climate Change 6 (2016): 462-473, doi:10.1038/nclimate2958, 2016.
  • Cross, B, KE Kohfeld, HJ Bailey, AB Cooper, Historical variability in wind speed behavior in relation to hydroelectric reservoir inflows, and their implications for wind power development, PLOSOne, 10(8): e0135730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135730, 2015.
  •  Spry, C., KE Kohfeld, D. Allen, K. Lertzman, D. Dunkley, Characterising Pineapple Express Storms in British Columbia using meteorologic, streamflow, and isotope data, Canadian Water Resource Journal, DOI:10.1080/07011784.2014.942574, 2014.

Other key publications:

  • Wadham, J. L., J. R. Hawkings, L. Tarasov, L. J. Gregoire, R. G. M. Spencer, M. Gutjahr, A. Ridgwell, and K. E. Kohfeld, Ice sheets matter for the global carbon cycle, Nature Communications, 10(1), 3567, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11394-4, 2019.
  • Kohfeld KE, and Z Chase, Temporal evolution of mechanisms controlling ocean carbon uptake during the last glacial cycle, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 472: 206-215,, 2017.
  • Chase, Z, KE Kohfeld, K. Matsumoto, Controls on rates of opal burial in the Southern Ocean, Global Biogeochemical Cycles 29 (10): 1599-1616, 2015.
  • Graham, R, A De Boer, E. van Sabille, KE Kohfeld, C. Schlosser, Inferring source regions and supply mechanisms of iron in the Southern Ocean from satellite chlorophyll data, Deep-Sea Research Part I, 104 (2015) 9–25, 2015.
  • Kohfeld, KE, R. Graham, A. De Boer, LC. Sime, EW Wolf, C. Le Quere, and L. Bopp, Glacial-interglacial changes in Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds: Paleo-data synthesis, Quaternary Science Reviews, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.01.017, 2013. 


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


Summer 2024

Future courses may be subject to change.