It is very likely that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting from human activity are increasing global temperatures and changing Earth's climate. Two major greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, are both carbon based and participate in the global carbon cycle. During this cycle, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere can be taken up by plants via photosynthesis and converted to sugars and other compounds, which can be stored by the plant, used for food by the plant or other organisms, or incorporated into soil where it can be stored for a long time. Thus, the carbon cycle includes pathways for carbon dioxide to be taken out of the atmosphere and has an important role in global warming and climate change. In this presentation you will learn about the carbon cycle, ways that forests and soils store carbon, and how carbon storage and loss from forests and soils might change with changes in climate and human activity.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Karis McFarlane

Dr. Karis grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and spent a lot of time in the woods canoeing and camping with her family. She received her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from DePaul University in Chicago. As a college student, she worked as a research assistant studying restored prairie, oak savanna, and woodlands. Her interest in forest ecology led her to Syracuse, New York where she earned her Master's degree in Forest and Natural Resources Management at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She then moved to the West Coast to pursue her PhD in Forest Engineering with a minor in Soil Science For her dissertation, she investigated the effects of forest management on soil organic matter, which is important for carbon sequestration and sustainable forestry. She was awarded her PhD in 2007 and was hired by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a post-doctoral researcher. She works at LLNL's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry where she and other scientists measure rare isotopes like radiocarbon (14C) for lots of different kinds of scientific research. Karis uses radiocarbon and other measurements to study terrestrial carbon cycling, particularly in soils and natural ecosystems. Her work is contributing to the development of more realistic carbon cycle models that will improve our ability to model changes in climate and anticipate the effects of climate change in the future. When she isn't working, Karis enjoys running, bicycling, and yoga and spending time with her husband and their two big dogs.

Dean Reese

Physics and Biology Teacher
Tracy High School

Dean Reese received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Currently, he is the Science Department Chairperson at Tracy High School and has been teaching there since 2002. He teaches IB Physics, Conceptual Physics, and ELL Conceptual Physics. He has been a Master Teacher for LLNL’s Education Program since 2007 and currently instructs in the Computer Simulation Teacher Research Academy. Dean has co-presented with various scientist in many Science on Saturday Presentations. In 2006, Dean had a DOE Academies Creating Teacher Scientists internship where he interned for 3 consecutive summers at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at LLNL. In 2011, Dean was awarded the Cortopassi Family Foundation Excellence in Science Teaching Award. He is a dedicated advisor for the Tracy High Earth Club, Scientifically Speaking Club, and Computer Programming Club. Dean is a master instructor for the SIMMS (Secondary Integration of Modeling in Math and Science) Project with the intent of developing computer modeling skills for high school science and math teachers within the San Joaquin County. Prior to becoming a teacher Dean was a soldier in the United States Army National Guard.