Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Bryson Professor, Center for Climatic Research
University of Wisconsin - Madison

I study the physical structures and biogeochemical processes in large water bodies that impact large-scale carbon cycling and primary productivity. This requires an interdisciplinary approach across fluid dynamics, aquatic chemistry and ecology. Numerical models, historical datasets, and remote sensing are my primary tools. My research group and I are currently working to (1) assess change in the global ocean carbon sink from surface ocean pCO2, (2) quantify recent carbon uptake and productivity changes in the North Atlantic, (3) directly separate internal variability from anthropogenic change in the ocean carbon sink using large ensembles of coupled climate models, and (4) assess the biogeochemical impacts of invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes.

Prof. Galen A. McKinley

Current Events:

Moving to Columbia / LDEO in summer 2017

My group and I are moving to the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Columbia University and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in summer 2017.  We are excited for the new adventure, and also send thanks to all who’ve made it a great 13 years in Wisconsin.

Recent publications from the McKinley group

Amanda Fay and Professor McKinley present a joint analysis of surface ocean pCO2 and satellite-derived chlorophyll in a new paper. The global analysis adds data to support the long-held assumption that the carbon cycle is most strongly driven by the biological pump at high latitudes. Intriguingly, the available data indicate that only in the Southern Ocean does the biological pump drive ocean carbon uptake on all timescales from monthly to interannual.

Professor McKinley has published a review article on the ocean carbon sink and its variability in space and time. The article appears in Annual Review of Marine Science.

A paper led by our collaborator at UC-Boulder, Nikki Lovenduski, on uncertainty in future ocean carbon uptake is now published in GBC (Lovenduski et al. 2016). This work was selected by GBC for a highlight in EOS by John Dunne of NOAA GFDL, and also for an EOS news story.

See all publications here.

Illustrating the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle

New graphics to help YOU illustrate the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle! 

These graphics were initially sketched by Professor McKinley, and some lovely graphics are now available to all from the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry program. Please see the link above and downloadable files for complete citation information.

Please use widely in your research talks and educational activities!

See also the new Carbon Cycle multimedia feature from WHOI.

Note to Prospective Students

I am always interested in discussing graduate school opportunities with students interested in using quantitative methods to learn about coupled physical-biogeochemical processes in the oceans and Great Lakes. Please have a look at my website to understand my research areas and approaches, and then contact me with any questions.

My students are usually in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences graduate program, but I have also worked with students in Environment and Resources. I’d also be glad to discuss opportunities with Freshwater and Marine Science prospective students.

Undergraduates interested in research are also welcome to contact me. I usually host a couple of undergraduate researchers in my group at a time.