Science - Center for Climate and Life

The Center for Climate and Life mobilizes scientists and engineers to understand how climate change impacts the security of food, water, and shelter, and to develop solutions to adapt to a changing world.

This initiative stems from the reality that we do not yet understand how climate change will affect the basic resources and ecosystems that sustain us, and that the need for viable solutions is urgent.


The Earth sciences are in the early stages of a fundamental revolution propelled by new ideas and technological innovations in the life sciences. The intersection between Earth and life sciences is an exciting frontier of discovery driven by breakthroughs in instrumentation, observation, data integration, and analytical techniques. Engineering advances offer novel solutions for carbon management.

Genomic sequencing has become so fast and affordable that the entire genomes of marine microbes can be sequenced, enabling scientists to understand how life mutates and adapts to changes in ocean chemistry (through ocean acidification from carbon dioxide emissions) and warming that are already underway. Novel mass spectrometry provides new ways to analyze trace amounts of biomolecules from living and fossil organisms as proxies for rainfall, temperature, and carbon dioxide levels in the past. Supercomputers running numerical models simulate climate and life processes to reveal how future climate changes will impact water resources, sea level change, and crop yields.

Society also needs viable solutions for the future. Carbon emissions are accumulating rapidly, reaching levels where large and irreversible climate changes could occur. Technologies are being developed to capture carbon from the atmosphere, and Lamont-Doherty scientists are at the forefront of developing ways to use natural processes to react this captured carbon with naturally occurring rock to sequester it away forever as inert, solid, carbonate minerals.

The potential in this convergence of disciplines for new knowledge that is vitally important for society is the impetus behind the Center for Climate and Life.