Kristen is an Ecologist with Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center in Menlo Park, CA. She studies how disturbances affect the carbon cycle, with the majority of her research focusing on the boreal region of Alaska and Canada.
Kristen's research explores how disturbance affects the global carbon cycle. Carbon enters soil from dead plant material and exits the soil through decomposition and root respiration. The amount of carbon stored in soil is the sum of these inputs minus the sum of loses. Understanding what controls this balance is important because 1) there is nearly three times the amount of carbon in soils than in the atmosphere, so changes in soil carbon storage can have large impacts on the amount of atmospheric carbon, and 2) soil carbon is tied to soil health.
For most of her career Kristen has been focused on the carbon cycle of the boreal region of Interior Alaska and Canada. Boreal soils are known carbon sinks, meaning that more carbon enters than leaves the soil. However, boreal regions are experiencing a great deal of warming due to climate change. This warming is causing more and higher intensity fires. It is also thawing the permafrost, or frozen soil, that underlies much of the boreal region. These disturbances have the potential to impact not just the amount of carbon entering and leaving the soil, but also the way carbon moves through these ecosystems and rates of this movement. Kristen's research looks for these changes.
- University of Alaska
- Bonanza Creek LTER
Affiliations and Memberships*
American Geophysical Union
Permafrost Carbon Network,
International Soil Carbon Network
*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government