About the Center

Global change research has become increasingly broad in spatial extent and focused at the interface of traditional disciplines. Global changes, ranging from greenhouse warming and sea level rise to shifts in land use and urbanization, pose fundamental challenges for basic research in environmental science.

Duke University created the Center on Global Change (CGC) in 2001 as a university-wide initiative in response to rapid change in society's demands on science and a consequent shift in the way environmental science is done. Its goals are to develop the scientific and technical basis for recognizing and forecasting changes in the Earth's biotic environment and to foster interdisciplinary graduate training in global change, attract additional funding from public and private entities, and enhance Duke's reputation as a leader in global change research and education.

The scope of the Center is intentionally broad to encourage creativity and to leverage Duke's strengths across a range of disciplines, including ecology, biology, earth sciences, ocean sciences, statistics, engineering, computer sciences and math. Rather than focus on a single, specific scientific problem, the Center supports multiple efforts by faculty and students to create new collaborations, both internal and external to the University, across traditional disciplines and on a range of topics of relevance to global change.

In 2005 the CGC, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions initiated the Climate Change Policy Partnership. This initiative conducts climate change and energy policy research in partnership with industrial sponsors. 2005 also saw the CGC established as the Southeastern Regional Center of the Department of Energy's National Institute for Climate Change Research program. Under this program, the CGC administers a 5-year, $10 million climate change research program for Universities in the southeastern United States.

Other activities at the CGC include: interdisciplinary working groups of Duke and non-Duke scientists; a visiting speaker seminar series; symposia and workshops held in collaboration with other units at Duke; and the provision of space and support for visiting scholars in residence.


  • Support of interdisciplinary working groups of Duke and non-Duke researchers and students
  • Proposals to external funding sources
  • Seminars, academic papers, and presentations
  • Interdisciplinary graduate courses
  • On-going programs with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions


  • Seminar series of visiting scholars who are nominated by faculty and graduate students from Schools affiliated with the CGC
  • Visiting scholars in residence
  • CGC symposia and workshops on a variety of topics, which are often held in collaboration with other units at Duke



  • Application of Bayesian Statistics to Ecological Forecasting
  • Coupling Hydrodynamics & Carbon Transport within Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Ocean Climate Modeling (ocean physics & biology, and computational science)
  • Carbon Sinks and Biogeochemical Changes with Plantations
  • Coastline Change, Development, and Ecosystems
  • Global Soil Change: Values & Uses of Long-Term Soil-Ecosystem Experiments
  • Variability of the Amazon & Orinoco Plumes and Their Roles in Climate Feedback


The Center on Global Change in conjunction with the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions initiated the Climate Change Policy Partnership to perform policy and science research addressing climate change issues of concern to industry in North Carolina.

In September 2005 research for the first industrial partner, Duke Energy, was initiated. The Climate Change Policy Partnership will evaluate national Carbon Tax and Cap-and-Trade policy alternatives and opportunities for carbon sequestration and other carbon emission mitigation opportunities in North Carolina. Recruitment of other corporate partners is on-going.

Web: http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/ccpp/


The U.S. Department of Energy's NICCR, Southeastern Region is administered by CGC to mobilize university researchers to focus on these research objectives:

  • Effects of warming, changes in precipitation, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and/or increases in tropospheric ozone concentration on the structure and functioning of important terrestrial ecosystems in the United States.
  • Effects of potential climatic changes on the geographic boundaries of U.S. terrestrial ecosystems (or biomes), and the populations of their dominant organisms (plants, animals, and/or microorganisms).
  • Use of measurements of contemporary exchanges of mass and energy between the atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems to reduce scientific uncertainty about effects of an altered terrestrial carbon cycle and/or surface energy exchange on global and/or regional climate.
  • Synthesis activities related to effects of climatic variability and change on U.S. terrestrial ecosystems, principally with a regional focus. The Center on Global Change will fund $10 million competitive proposals in the Southeastern Region over the next 5 years.

Web: http://www.niccr.duke.edu/

©2009 Center on Global Change
Phytotron Building, 138 Science Drive
Box 90658, Duke University, Durham NC 27708-0658
Tel: 919-681-7180 Fax: 919-660-7425
E-mail: cgc-web@nicholas.duke.edu