Nikki Lovenduski


  • Assistant Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences



  • 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.


  • Citation for Excellence in Refereeing, American Geophysical Union, 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



David Munro, Nikki Lovenduski, Takahashi, T., Stephens, B. B., Newberger, T., Sweeney, C., 2015: Recent evidence for a strengthening CO2 sink in the Southern Ocean from carbonate system measurements in the Drake Passage (2002-2015). Geophysical Research Letters, 42: 7623-7630. DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065194

DiNezio, P. N., Barbero, L., Long, M. C., Nikki Lovenduski, Deser, C., 2015: Are anthropogenic changes in the tropical ocean carbon cycle masked by Pacific Decadal Variability?. U.S. CLIVAR Variations, 13(2): 12-16. [.pdf] (1 MB)

Nikki Lovenduski, Fay, A. R., McKinley, G. A., 2015: Observing multidecadal trends in Southern Ocean CO2 uptake: What can we learn from an ocean model?. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29: 416-426. DOI: 10.1002/2014GB004933

David Munro, Nikki Lovenduski, Stephens, B. B., Newberger, T., Arrigo, K. R., Takahashi, T., Quay, P. D., Sprintall, J., Natalie Freeman, Sweeney, C., 2015: Estimates of net community production in the Southern Ocean determined from time series observations (2002-2011) of nutrients, dissolved inorganic carbon, and surface ocean pCO2 in Drake Passage. Deep-Sea Research II, 114: 49-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2014.12.014

Fay, A. R., McKinley, G. A., Nikki Lovenduski, 2014: Southern Ocean carbon trends: Sensitivity to methods. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(19): 6833-6840. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL061324

Lenton, A., Tilbrook, B., Law, R. M., Bakker, D., Doney, S. C., Gruber, N., Ishii, M., Hoppema, M., Nikki Lovenduski, Matear, R. J., McNeil, B. I., Metzl, N., Mikaloff Fletcher, S. E., Monteiro, P. M. S., Rödenbeck, C., Sweeney, C., Takahashi, T., 2013: Sea-air CO2 fluxes in the Southern Ocean for the period 1990-2009. Biogeosciences, 10: 4037-4054. DOI: 10.5194/bg-10-4037-2013 pdf (9 MB)

All publications by Nikki Lovenduski >



Current Courses

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

Past Courses

Postdocs & Students

Current Postdocs

David Munro David Munro, Postdoctoral Research Associate Dave is analyzing carbon and nutrient data from the Drake Passage transect program in the Southern Ocean, and placing these data into a larger spatiotemporal context using satellite estimates of biological production.

Current Students

Natalie Freeman Natalie Freeman, NSF - Graduate Research Fellow Natalie is analyzing satellite estimates of phytoplankton calcification in the Southern Ocean, in an effort to better understand the relationship between climate change and calcification in this region.
Kristen Krumhardt Kristen Krumhardt, PhD student Kristen is investigating the representation of phytoplankton calcification in Earth System Models in order to better predict the ocean ecosystem response to future climate change.

Former Students

Chris Conrad Chris Conrad, M.S. Student Chris earned his Master's degree in 2014. He studied the impact of climate variability on the Southern Ocean carbonate system.