Ecoclimate Lab

Abigail Swann, University of Washington

In the Ecoclimate lab we study how plants and climate interact with one another. This involves understanding both the physical climate system and the underlying biological processes that govern ecosystems and characterize their response to environmental variability and change. We use mathematical models and observations to explore ecosystem-climate interaction dynamics and address fundamental questions about the role of biology in the Earth system. Essential to our scientific mission is creating equity by teaching and training informed citizens and the next generation of diverse interdisciplinary climate scientists.

Recent Publications

(2020). Leaf trait plasticity alters competitive ability and functioning of simulated tropical trees in response to elevated carbon dioxide. Global Biogeochemical Cycles (in revision).

PDF Project DOI ArXiv

(2020). Reframing tropical savannization: linking changes in canopy structure to energy balance alterations that impact climate. Ecosphere.

PDF Project DOI

About the Lab

In the Ecoclimate lab we are developing a systematic understanding of where and how ecosystems modify the climate system. In our work so far we have shown that there can be unanticipated, globally reaching effects from changes in ecosystem distribution, structure, and functioning. Working at the interface between atmospheric science, ecology, plant physiology and hydrology presents particular challenges in translating the relevant processes across spatial and temporal scales, as well as communicating across disciplines. However, meeting this challenge is key to answering questions about the dynamic nature of the Earth system.


Where plants grow

The climate impact of which plants grow where.

Droughts in a Changing Climate

The influence of plant respones to climate change on drought.

Feeding the population of the future

How agricultural productivity will be impacted by climate.

Climate Impacts from Forest Die-off

Connectivity between ecosystems across scales from the continent to the globe.

Plant responses and functioning

The influence of plant functioning on climate and climate change.

Get Involved

Our team is focused on understanding the interactions between ecosystems and climate across spatial scales using multiple interdisciplinary approaches. Our group includes graduate students pursuing a PhD in either the Department of Atmospheric Sciences or the Department of Biology at the University of Washington, as well as postdoctoral and undergraduate researchers. We will likely be accepting a new graduate student to begin in Autumn of 2021.