Margaret S. Torn

Ecologist & Biogeochemist
Senior Scientist
Building 084, Room 0340
Phone: 510-495-2223
Fax: 510-486-7775
Curriculum Vitae


Margaret S. Torn is co-lead of the Climate and Carbon Sciences Program Area in the Earth Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is also the Program Lead for Atmospheric Systems Research and Terrestrial Ecosystems Science. At U.C. Berkeley, she is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Energy and Resources Department.

Dr. Torn is an ecologist and biogeochemist who studies the natural carbon cycle and anthropogenic influence on the carbon cycle through land use (including bio-energy crops and sequestration management) and climate change. This work uses field experiments, isotopic analysis (14C, 13C), laboratory analysis, and mathematical models. Dr. Torn studies climate change impacts on ecosystems and the services they provide to society. She also studies the influence of the land surface on climate, including the potential for ecosystem-climate feedbacks to contribute to abrupt climate change. She has published work on climate change impacts on wildfire, on biodiversity, and on ecosystem sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. At Berkeley, Torn teaches a class on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and a seminar on food systems.

Research Interests

The focus of my work is carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and trace-gas flux between soil and atmosphere. I conduct research on soil carbon, global change, and the impacts of human activities on ecosystem processes. The primary approaches I use are field experiments, elemental and isotopic measurements, and analytical modeling.

At this time, most of our projects are centered on four controls of soil carbon cycling and storage: soil minerals, nutrient status, climate, and land use.