BPE Projects and Initiatives

Anthropogenic Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems

view from Atigun PassHuman activities are significantly and rapidly altering the form and function of terrestrial ecosystems. For example, we are changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere, converting natural landscapes to urban areas, and transporting floral and faunal species far beyond their natural boundaries. Through both field and lab based experiments, we strive to gain a better understanding of how such anthropogenic changes impact ecosystems. Using a wide range of measurement techniques, our study foci vary in scale from individual leaves to entire ecosystems, Recently, we have included the response of resident fauna who depend upon vegetation for both food and habitat.

Biological Oceanography

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s Biological Oceanography Group works on a broad range of issues related to life in the ocean.  We are interested in large-scale patterns of marine production and how these patterns will respond to climate change as well as influence the course of climate response.  We use both laboratory measurements and take part in numerous sea-going studies to determine the factors controlling the production of marine phytoplankton.  These primary producers represent almost half of the biological productivity on our planet and support the ocean’s vast food webs.  We work in various ecosystems from polar seas to the tropics and study scales of processes ranging from global to individual cells using tools that span from satellites to molecular biology.

Earth Microbiology Initiative

Microorganisms fill essential functional roles in all of Earth’s ecosystems yet our understanding of microbial abundance, distribution, and metabolism remains surprisingly limited. Columbia University’s new Earth Microbiology Initiative (EMI) has brought together a group of scientists and engineers from across the University to begin coordinated research on Earth’s microbial life. The Earth Microbiology Initiative leverages existing disciplinary resources into broad and interdisciplinary analyses of the extent and diversity of microbial life, its role in maintaining Earth’s living system, and its interactions with natural and human-induced variations.

Lamont Doherty Core Repository

The Lamont Doherty Core Repository is both an archive of sediment and rocks from beneath the ocean floor, and an archive of the digital data pertaining to the material.


Microbial Ecology of the Hudson River Estuary

The Hudson River Estuary (HRE) is home to nation’s largest metropolitean area and supports industry of crucial economic importance. The area is a complex mixture of commercial, industrial, agricultural, and residential development. The watershed provides important services for drinking water, wildlife habitat, recreation (swimming, fishing, boating) and transportation

Radiocarbon Lab


The records of the 14C content of the atmosphere and oceans contain a remarkable array of information about Earth history. Produced by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere, 14CO2 rapidly mixes throughout the troposphere and exchanges with the reactive carbon reservoirs of the oceans and biosphere, where it decays. For the past 11,000 years, fluctuations in the atmospheric 14C have been largely produced by changes in the solar magnetic field.

Subsurface Microbiology

JOIDESWork has begun on two different areas of subsurface microbiology. In one case characterizing the physiology and genetic diversity of microbes contained in deep subsurface cores from the Integrate Ocean Drilling Program (IODP); and in the other determining the response of aquifer microbial communities to CO2 injection and acidification. 

Tree Ring Lab

Tree Ring LabTree-Ring Lab (TRL) scientists are dedicated to expanding the use and application of tree-ring research around the world to improve our understanding of past climate and environmental history.  Current research concentrates on the use of tree-ring data networks to study regional climate, global climate teleconnections and anthropogenic impacts on forest growth.

Exploring new species in new regions, building collaborations around the world, and developing new quantitative techniques, TRL researchers are committed to advancing dendrochronology and paleoclimatology, as well as the ethic of good science