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Earth Sciences

Max Berkelhammer Photo

Dr. Max Berkelhammer  is an Associate Professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at UIC.  In his research, Dr. Berkelhammer studies the processes that affect the atmospheric part of Earth’s water cycle, with the goal of understanding the factors that control how ecosystems respond to changes in the availability of water.

In Dr. Berkelhammer’s Atmosphere, Climate and Ecosystems Lab, he and his students carry out experiments to understand the way in which climate change will impact global carbon and water cycles.   His group is interested particularly in the ways that ecosystems, such as peatlands, forests or grasslands, will respond to a changing climate and whether these changes will accelerate or mitigate the rate of global warming.  To study these processes, his group utilizes a variety of tools including direct field measurements of the energy and mass exchange between a land surface and the atmosphere.  In addition, satellite data and climate models are used to better understand how the land surface and atmosphere interact at the global scale.

Some examples of the current projects that students can work on include:

  1.  Working in Colorado with a large team of scientists from the Department of Energy to study how changes in snowpack will affect forest processes
  2. Studying how carbon and water fluxes rebound from wildfires in Oregon
  3. Global studies on how root systems from plants respond to climate disturbances
  4. Using satellite data to study how changes in marine and terrestrial ecosystems are coupled in the high Arctic.  Students may have opportunities for extended field work or gain experience working with large datasets derived from satellites.

For more on Dr. Berkelhammer’s research group’s activities, see his faculty profile and his research group’s website.