Biology & Paleo Environment Research

Tree Ring Lab
Tree Ring Lab

Tree-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.


Anthropogenic Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems

Human 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..>> more


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.. >> more


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. EMI is actively engaged in environmental monitoring and experimentation to provide the sound scientific foundation required to inform effective management and remediation. Examples of EMI research topics in the Hudson River include microbial response to oxygen depletion, pathogen inputs and persistence in the River, real time monitoring of water quality and environmental conditions, genomics and physiology of microbial communities from IODP cores, and microbial response to carbon sequestration activities.