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.

Current Graduate Students and Projects

  • Jose Cuevas: Seven Year Time-Series of Particulate Organic Carbon Flux in the Subpolar North Atlantic from Ocean Observatories Initiative Bio-Optical Data
  • John Supino: Constraining salt marsh carbon cycling using autonomous biogeochemical measurements at the Seven Mile Island Innovation Laboratory
  • Margaret Yoder: Constraining the mixed layer carbon budget in the Irminger Sea using autonomous mooring observations


Selected Recent Publications

  • Henson, S. A., C. Laufkötter, S. Leung, S. L. C. Giering, H. I. Palevsky, & E. L. Cavan (2022). Uncertain response of ocean biological carbon export in a changing world, Nature Geoscience, 15(4), 248-254,
  • Clayton, S., H. I. Palevsky, L. Thompson, and P. D. Quay (2021), Synoptic mesoscale variability in biological productivity and chlorophyll in the Kuroshio Extension region, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2021JC017782.
  • Palevsky, H. I. and S. C. Doney (2021). Sensitivity of 21st century ocean carbon export flux projections to the choice of export depth horizon, Global Biogeochemical Cycles,
  • Quay, P. D., S. Emerson, and H. I. Palevsky (2020). Regional Pattern of the Ocean’s Biological Pump Based on Geochemical Observations. Geophysical Research Letters, 47,
  • Greengrove, C., C. S. Lichtenwalner, H. I. Palevsky, A. Pfeiffer-Herbert, S. Severmann, D. Soule, S. Murphy, L. M. Smith, and K. Yarincik (2020). Using Authentic Data from NSF’s Ocean Observatories Initiative in Undergraduate Teaching: An Invitation. Oceanography, 33(1): 62-73, 
  • 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,