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Assistant Professor

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Tel: 610-758-3536 | Fax: 610-758-3677

Ph.D. (Geology), Brown University, 1995
M.S. (Geology), University of Colorado, 1990
B.A. with Honors (Physics major, Astronomy minor), Swarthmore College, 1987

Links: Full CV,

            Talk at Penn State (4/1/14)


Graduate Student Opportunity

I have funding to support a new Ph.D. (preferred) or M.S. graduate student.  The general topic is studying the role of climate disasters such as floods and droughts on food supply and resulting societal response throughout human history.  The student will have the opportunity to work with climate data and indices of climate extremes related to prehistoric, preindustrial, and contemporary civilizations.  Please contact me for more information.  Graduate application is online.



1. EES023 Weather and Climate: Past, Present, and Future
An introduction to the basic principles of meteorology, as they pertain to past, present, and future climates. The course considers the earth’s energy balance, cloud formation and precipitation, winds and atmospheric circulation, regional climatologies, past warm periods and ice ages in earth’s history, and the latest ideas about future climate change and global warming. Students will maintain a weather notebook to enable them to relate theory to observations from real weather data. Three class hours per week. No prerequisites, but course will contain simple mathematical applications and you will learn how to use MS Excel.

2. EES004 Science of Environmental Issues (team-taught course; I teach section on Global Climate Change)
Analysis of current environmental issues from a scientific perspective. The focus on the course will be weekly discussions based on assigned readings. Pre- or co-requisite: 3-credit introductory-level (000-level) course in EES (or the cross-listed EES 105/ASTR 105/PHY 105). Staff. (NS)

3. EES100 Earth System Science
Examination of the Earth as an integrated system. Study of interactions and feedbacks between key components such as the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere to permit better understanding of the behavior of the system as a whole. Response of the Earth system to human perturbations such as land use and emissions are explored in the context of predictions of future environmental conditions and their projected impacts back on human systems. Lectures, class discussions, and lab. Prerequisites: EES 22.

4. EES395 Intermediate Meteorology

An intermediate course on the basic principles of meteorology.  The course considers atmospheric structure and composition, earth’s energy balance and radiation laws, cloud formation and precipitation, atmospheric motion and circulation, including jet streams and planetary waves, atmospheric stability, frontal systems and air masses, regional climatologies, weather and climate modeling, and the latest ideas about future climate change and global warming.  Students will keep track of daily atmospheric charts to enable them to relate theory to observations from real weather data.

5. EES403 Earth System Modeling
This course will introduce the concepts behind computer modeling, including stocks and fluxes, finite differencing, initial and boundary conditions, feedbacks, calibration, validation, data visualization, monte carlo, and sensitivity. We will apply these ideas to radiative energy balance, atmosphere and ocean dynamics, hydrological cycling, terrestrial carbon and nitrogen dynamics, and vegetation biogeography. Students will learn both agent-based and systems dynamics modeling using NetLogo and Stella, simple box modeling in Excel, and research-oriented models such as the NCAR Community Climate System Model using C++, Fortran, and IDL. The lectures will relate these modeling exercises to the fundamental science to allow students to interpret how their results relate to larger questions of global climate change and carbon feedbacks.

Research Statement
From 2001-2008 I was a research associate at the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA, where I worked with the Terrestrial Ecosystems Model (TEM), a biogeochemical model of the carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles. I am using this model to understand the effects of the land surface, particularly vegetation, on the global carbon cycle. For example, global warming is caused by emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), but not all the CO2 we emit into the atmosphere remains there because of absorption by the ocean and land surface. I am also running the NCAR CESM global climate model here at Lehigh on our 72 core Beowulf cluster, Lehigh’s Corona cluster, and the NSF’s Yellowstone supercluster. Several important questions include a) can we account for the land component of the 'carbon sink? b) how do changes in vegetation cover affect atmospheric CO2 and the resulting climate? c) how does the ability of vegetation to remove CO2 from the atmosphere change with a warmer climate? d) how will vegetation migrate with shifting climates, and e) how does air pollution affect vegetation productivity?

My major research foci are a) using the TEM model to determine the effects of tropospheric ozone on vegetation production and carbon storage, b) using TEM coupled to the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model to determine the economic consequences of policy decisions regarding air quality, c) developing more realistic carbon, water, and nitrogen linkages to capture the effects of carbon and nitrogen feedbacks on the hydrological cycle, d) exploring land use and land cover change implications for carbon dynamics, especially with respect to future crop growth for biofuels, and e) using global and regional climate models to understand climate change in the past and to determine the impacts of future climate change on ecosystems and the hydrological cycle.  I have more recently been awarded funding from NSF’s Macrosystems Biology program to explore the effects of climate extremes (floods, droughts) on ecosystem functions and services, and from NSF’s Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Science (IBSS) program to study the effect of climate disasters on food supplies within a range of human societies.

During 2000/2001 I helped coordinate NOAA's Office of Global Programs (OGP)'s GCIP/GAPP (GEWEX Continental-scale International Project/GEWEX Americas Prediction Project, where GEWEX is the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment) program. Previous to that, I served as the climate scenarios coodinator for the U.S. National Assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change (details), following my postdoctoral research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (details). Please see my CV for list of publications and graduate research.


Published while at Lehigh

Felzer, B. S., Cronin, T. W., Melillo, J. M., Kicklighter, D. W., Schlosser, C. A. 2009. Importance of carbon-nitrogen interactions and ozone on ecosystem hydrology during the 21st century. Journ. Geophys. Res. 114,doi:10.1029/2008JG000826., Appendix, Fig1_rev

Sokolov, A., Stone, P. H., Forest, C. E., Prinn, R., Sarofim, M. C., Webster, M., Paltsev, S., Schlosser, C. A., Kicklighter, D., Dutkiewicz, S., Reilly, J., Wang, C., Felzer, B., Melillo, J. M. and Jacoby. 2009. H.D. Probabilistic forecast for twenty-first-century climate based on uncertainties in emissions (without policy) and climate parameters. Journal of Climate. 22:5175-5204.

Melillo, J. M., Reilly, J. M, Kicklighter, D. W., Gurgel, A. C., Cronin, T. W., Paltsev, S., Felzer, B. S., Wang, X., Sokolov, A. P., and Schlosser, C. A. 2009. Indirect emissions from biofuels: how important? Science. 326:1397-1399.

Felzer, B. S., T. W. Cronin, J. M. Melillo, D. W. Kicklighter, C. A. Schlosser, and S. R. S. Dangal. 2011. Nitrogen effect on carbon-water coupling in forests, grasslands, and shrublands in the arid Western U.S. Journ. Geophys. Res. 116. G03023. doi:10.1029/2010JG001621, Appendix

Lee, E., Barford, C. L., Kucharik, C. J., Felzer, B. S., Foley, J. A. 2011. Role of turbulent heat fluxes over land in the monsoon over East Asia. International Journal of Geosciences, 2: 420-431.

Felzer, B. Carbon, 2012, Nitrogen, and Water Response to Climate and Land Use Changes in Pennsylvania during the 20th and 21st Centuries, Ecological Modelling, 240: 49-63.

Lee, E. and Felzer, B. S. 2013. Effects of Nitrogen Limitation on Hydrological Processes in CLM4-CN. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. 5(4): 741-754. doi:10.1002/jame.20046.

Ruegg, J., Gries, C., Bond-Lamberty, B., Bowen, G.J., Felzer, B.S., McIntyre, N.E., Soranno, P.A., Vanderbilt, K.L., and Weathers, K.C. 2014. Closing the data life cycle: Using information management in macrosystems ecology research. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 12(1): 24-30.

Dangal, S.R.S., Felzer, B.S., and Hurteau, M.D. 2014. Effects of agriculture and timber harvest on carbon sequestration in the eastern US forests. JGR-Biogeosciences. doi:10.1002/2013JG002409. 119(1): 35-54.

He,Y., Jones, M., Zhuang, Q., Bochicchio, C., Felzer, B.S., Mason, E. and Yu, Z. 2014. Evaluating the effects of climate seasonality on CO2 and CH4 cycling of Alaskan Ecosystems during the Holocene Thermal Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews. 86: 63-77.

Felzer, B. and Sahagian, D. Climate impacts on regional ecosystem services in the United States from CMIP3-based multimodel comparisons. Climate Research.  doi0.3354/cr01249. postprint_in press. (electronic supplement).



In Review

Jiang, M., Zhang, J., Felzer, B., and Hargreaves, B. Parameterization and sensitivity analysis of a biogeochemical model for Pennsylvania dairy pasture carbon flux under climate change scenarios. Crop Science.

Felzer, B.S. and Withers, C.E. Using future storm statistics from climate models to determine flood potential in the Lehigh Valley, PA in the 21st century. Journal of Flood Risk Management.


Last Updated 07/24/2014


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