Nikki Lovenduski (she/her)

Associate Professor



  • PhD: University of California at Los Angeles, 2007
  • MS: University of California at Los Angeles, 2003
  • BA: Washington University in St. Louis, 2001

Contact Information

(Office) 303 492-5259

Campus Box 450
Boulder, CO 80309-0450


Marine carbon cycle, climate variability, ocean modeling.

Research Interests

Modeling and observation of ocean biogeochemistry; polar climate change and its impact on the oceans; global carbon cycle dynamics; global climate modeling.


  • Ocean Sciences Early Career Award, American Geophysical Union, 2019
  • Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2018
  • Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, National Science Foundation, 2018
  • Citation for Excellence in Refereeing, American Geophysical Union (Geophysical Research Letters), 2015
  • Citation for Excellence in Refereeing, American Geophysical Union (Global Biogeochemical Cycles), 2012
  • Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, NOAA, 2007
  • Bjerknes Memorial Award, University of California at Los Angeles, 2006
  • Earth System Science Graduate Research Fellowship, NASA, 2005
  • Brian Lance Bosart Memorial Award, University of California at Los Angeles, 2004


Research Statement

Go To Ocean Biogeochemistry Research Group Homepage

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased exponentially, driving increases in global atmospheric temperature.  Only about half of the CO2 emitted from anthropogenic activities has remained in the atmosphere; the other half has been taken up by natural carbon sinks: the ocean and the terrestrial biosphere.  The global ocean has absorbed ~35% of the CO2 released by human activities since 1765. In the absence of this oceanic CO2 uptake, atmospheric CO2 concentrations would likely be much higher, and atmospheric temperatures would likely be warmer.  Quantifying and understanding the uptake of CO2 by the ocean is a necessary step for making accurate predictions of future climate change.

My research aims to improve our understanding of the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle by investigating the physical, chemical, and biological processes controlling air-sea CO2 exchange.  I study how these processes operated in the past, how they function today, and how they might respond to anthropogenic climate change in the future.  To do this, I employ a hierarchy of ocean and Earth system models along with satellite and in situ observations.

The major focus of my research thus far has been the exchange of CO2 between the atmosphere and the Southern Ocean, a large oceanic region stretching from the Antarctic continent to the subtropics of the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Ocean is a region of critical importance to the global carbon cycle, as it is responsible for approximately half of the oceanic CO2 uptake.  My research has helped to show that the absorption of CO2 by the Southern Ocean may have slowed in recent decades, due to anthropogenic changes in the climate system.

Active Research

Research Labs and Groups



Bardeen, C. G., Kinnison, D. E., Toon, O. B., Mills, M. J., Vitt, F., Xia, L., Jägermeyr, J., Nikki Lovenduski (she/her), Scherrer, K. J. N., Clyne, M., Robock, A. 2021: Extreme ozone loss following nuclear war results in enhanced surface ultraviolet radiation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126(18): e2021JD035079. DOI: 10.1029/2021JD035079

Meehl, G. A., Richter, J. H., Teng, H., Capotondi, A., Cobb, K., Doblas-Reyes, F., Donat, M. G., England, M. H., Fyfe, J. C., Han, W., Kim, H., Kirtman, B. P., Kushnir, Y., Nikki Lovenduski (she/her), Mann, M. E., Merryfield, W. J., Nieves, V., Pegion, K., Rosenbloom, N., Sanchez, S. C., Scaife, A. A., Smith, D., Subramanian, A. C., Sun, L., Thompson, D., Ummenhofer, C. C., Xie, S.-P. 2021: Initialized Earth System prediction from subseasonal to decadal timescales. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 2(5): 340-357. DOI: 10.1038/s43017-021-00155-x

Ilyina, T., Li, H., Spring, A., Müller, W.A., Bopp, L., Chikamoto, M.O., Danabasoglu, G., Dobrynin, M., Dunne, J., Fransner, F., Friedlingstein, P., Lee, W., Nikki Lovenduski (she/her), Merryfield, W.J., Mignot, J., Park, J.Y., Séférian, R., Sospedra-Alfonso, R., Watanabe, M., Yeager, S. 2021: Predictable variations of the carbon sinks and atmospheric CO2 growth in a multi-model framework. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL090695. DOI: 10.1029/2020GL090695

Gloege, L., McKinley, G. A., Landschützer, P., Fay, A. R., Frölicher, T. L., Fyfe, J. C., Ilyina, T., Jones, S., Nikki Lovenduski (she/her), Rodgers, K. B., Schlunegger, S., Takano, Y. 2021: Quantifying errors in observationally based estimates of ocean carbon sink variability. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 35(4): e2020GB006788. DOI: 10.1029/2020GB006788

Nikki Lovenduski (she/her), Swart, N.C., Sutton, A.J., Fyfe, J.C., McKinley, G.A., Sabine, C., Williams, N.L. 2021: The ocean carbon response to COVID-related emissions reductions. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL092263. DOI: 10.1029/2020GL092263

McKinley, G. A., Fay, A. R., Eddebbar, Y. A., Gloege, L., Nikki Lovenduski (she/her) 2020: External forcing explains recent decadal variability in the ocean carbon sink. AGU Advances, 1(2): e2019AV000149. DOI: 10.1029/2019AV000149

All publications by Nikki Lovenduski (she/her) >



Current Courses

  • ATOC 4200/5200: Biogeochemical Oceanography Provides a large-scale synthesis of the processes impacting ocean biogeochemistry.

Past Courses

  • FYSM 1000: Controversies and Revolutions in the Earth Sciences A first-year seminar course that explores the evolution of scientific ideas in the atmospheric, oceanic, and Earth sciences.
  • ATOC 1060: Our Changing Environment Discusses Earth's climate for non-science majors.
  • ATOC/GEOL 3070: Introduction to Oceanography Investigates the broad-scale features of the Earth's oceans. Covers physical, chemical, and biological oceanography.
  • ATOC 5300: The Global Carbon Cycle Covers the role of the ocean, land surface, and atmosphere in the global carbon cycle.

Postdocs & Students