Galina Churkina

Visiting Fellow

Research Overview

The overarching aim of my research is to understand the role of urbanization in the evolution of the Earth system. Currently half of the worlds's people are urbanites. Millions of people are expected to move into the cities in the next few decades. A massive expansion of infrastructures will be required to accomodate the new urban dwellers and businesses. Although small in area in comparison to other land use types, cities are responsible for almost three quaters of the greenhouse gas emissions and have measurable direct and indirect effects on regional to continental climate. How will continuing urbanization affect the climate and cycling of major chemical elements in the Earth system in future? What implications will these changes have for people?

I approach these questions by focusing on the feedbacks between urbanization, major biogeochemical cycles, and climate. My efforts are currently concentrated on the interactions between urbanization on the global carbon cycle as well as associated uncertainties from the local to the global scale. The object of research is the urban system, which includes both urban sprawl and urban footprint defined as the area outside of a city’s limits that is required to meet demand of a city’s population in terms of consumption and waste accumulation.

My research strategy is supported by my interdisciplinary background covering biogeochemical cycles, ecology, atmospheric sciences, and mathematics.