Earth and Environmental Sciences Faculty

Hilary Palevsky

Assistant Professor


My research focuses on marine biogeochemistry and the mechanisms that enable the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. On human time scales of decades to centuries, the ocean is the ultimate carbon sink, having absorbed ~40% of anthropogenic carbon emissions to date. However, the rates and mechanisms of ocean carbon uptake remain difficult to quantify or mechanistically predict, leading to uncertainty in how climate change will modify the ocean carbon sink and how those changes will feedback on future changes to global climate.

My research combines field measurements at sea, biogeochemical sensor data from autonomous moorings and robots, satellite observations, and global climate model simulations to improve our understanding of the ocean carbon cycle. These approaches enable us to determine the current rate at which the ocean exchanges carbon dioxide with the atmosphere due to biological, chemical, and physical processes, and to improve mechanistic understanding of the past, present, and future drivers of ocean carbon uptake.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Fuchsman, C. A., H. I. Palevsky, B. Widner, M. Duffy, M. C. G. Carlson, J. A. Neibauer, M. R. Mulholland, R. G. Keil, A. H. Devol, and G. Rocap (2019). Cyanobacteria and cyanophage contributions to carbon and nitrogen cycling in an oligotrophic oxygen-deficient zone. The ISME Journal, doi:10.1038/s41396-019-0452-6.
  • Fassbender, A. J., K. Rodgers, H. I. Palevsky, and C. L. Sabine (2018). Seasonal asymmetry in the evolution of surface ocean pCO2 and pH thermodynamic drivers and the influence on sea-air CO2 flux. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32, doi:10.1029/2017GB005855.
  • Palevsky, H. I. and S. C. Doney (2018). How choice of depth horizon influences the estimated spatial patterns and global magnitude of ocean carbon export flux. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, doi:10.1029/2017GL076498.
  • Palevsky, H. I. and D. P. Nicholson (2018). The North Atlantic biological pump: Insights from the Ocean Observatories Initiative Irminger Sea Array. Oceanography, 31(1): 42-49, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2018.108.
  • Fassbender, A.J., C. L. Sabine, and H. I. Palevsky (2017), Non-uniform ocean acidification and attenuation of the ocean carbon sink, Geophysical Research Letters, 44, doi:10.1002/2017GL074389.
  • Palevsky, H. I. and P. D. Quay (2017), Influence of the biological pump on ocean carbon uptake over the annual cycle across the North Pacific Ocean, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 31, doi:10.1002/2016GB005527.
  • Palevsky, H. I., P. D. Quay, and D. P. Nicholson (2016), Discrepant estimates of primary and export production from satellite algorithms, a biogeochemical model, and geochemical tracer measurements in the North Pacific Ocean, Geophysical Research Letters, 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL070226.