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Photo of Berkelhammer, Max

Max Berkelhammer, PhD

Associate Professor

Climate, Atmosphere, Land-Surface Processes, Stable Isotopes

Pronouns: he/him/his


Building & Room:

2456 SES


845 West Taylor St.

Office Phone:

(312) 413-8271


My research aims to shed light on the natural and anthropogenic processes that influence the atmospheric branch of the water cycle. The motivation for this line of inquiry is to provide better constraints on how ecological systems respond to changes in water availability. The work involves reconstructions of past hydrological regimes using paleoclimate proxies to study how the climate system behaved prior to strong anthropogenic influences. In addition, satellite data and in situ observations of the water and carbon cycles are used to characterize the behavior of the system in real-time. Lastly, the research takes advantage of models of the climate and hydrological systems to help project how the water and carbon cycles will evolve in the future. Current projects are heavily focused on the use of water and carbon cycle tracers (e.g. HDO, H218O and COS) to characterize exchanges of water and carbon between the land surface and the atmosphere. Examples of ongoing projects include work at Summit Station on top of the Greenland Ice sheet to study the exchange of water between the ice sheet and Arctic atmosphere and work at the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Observatory in the Rocky Mountains, which focuses on the water utilization patterns of forest ecosystems. Additional ongoing projects look at the tropical water cycle with an emphasis on long term trends in the Indian monsoon and how changes in the monsoon are related to the development of large convective systems in the Indian Ocean. Prior to pursuing a career in research, I worked as a high school teacher and maintain an active interest in science education in secondary schools. This work seeks to provide more hands-on research opportunities for high school students.

Selected Grants

DOE-Terrestrial Ecosystem Science, Water foraging with dynamic roots in E3SM; The role of roots in terrestrial ecosystem memory on intermediate timescales. (2019-2021), Lead PI

DOE-Subsurface Biogeochemical Research, Space and Time Dynamics of Transpiration in the East River Watershed: Biotic and Abiotic Controls. (2018-2020), Lead PI

Wood Wilson Foundation / Course Hero, Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching (2018-2019), Lead PI

NSF Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, Rocky Mountain Ecohydrology During the Eemian Interglacial. (2015-2018), Lead PI

NSF GP-IMPACT, Establishing Partnerships to Recruit Geoscience Undergraduates from Urban Chicago. (2016-2020), Co-PI

DOI Illinois Water Resources Center, Under the Cover of Darkness: Nighttime Water Use by Native, Biofuel and Agricultural Crops of Illinois. (2016-2017), Lead PI

Selected Publications

Complete list of publications on Google Scholar

  • Garcia-Eidell, J. Comiso,  M. Berkelhammer, L. Stock. (2021) Interrelationships of Sea Surface Salinity, Chlorophyll-α Concentration, and Sea Surface Temperature Near the Antarctic Ice Edge. Journal of Climate. doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0716.1
  • Berkelhammer, B. Alsip, R. Matamala, D. Cook, M. Whelan, E. Joo, C. Bernacchi, J. Miller, T Meyers (2020) Seasonal evolution of canopy stomatal conductance for a prairie and maize field in the midwestern US from continuous carbonyl sulfide fluxes. Geophysical Research Letters. doi: 10.1029/2019GL085652
  • Berkelhammer, C. Still, F. Ritter, M. Winnick, L. Anderson, R. Carroll, M. Carbone and K. Williams (2020). Persistence and plasticity in conifer water-use strategies. JGR Biogeosciences. doi: 10.1029/2018JG004845
  • Ritter, M. Berkelhammer, C. Garcia-Eidell (2020). Distinct response of gross primary productivity in five terrestrial biomes to precipitation variability. Nature Communications Earth and Environment. doi: 10.1038/s43247-020-00034-1
  • Jones, M. Berkelhammer, K. Keller, K. Yoshimura and M. Wooller (2020) High sensitivity of Bering Sea winter sea ice to winter insolation and carbon dioxide over the last 5,500 years. Science Advances. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz9588
  • Berkelhammer (2019). Synchronous Modes of Terrestrial and Marine Productivity in the North Pacific. Frontiers in Earth Science. DOI: 10.3389/feart.2019.00073
  • Sinha, G. Kathayat, H. Cheng, J. Reuter, A. Schneider, Berkelhammer, H. Li, S. Adali, L. Stott, R. Edwards, H. Weiss. (2019). Climate Change and the rise and fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Science Advances. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax6656
  • Cosgrove and Berkelhammer (2018) Downwind footprint of an urban heat island on air and lake temperatures. Nature Climate and Atmospheric Science. doi: 10.1038/s41612-018-0055-3
  • Berkelhammer, D. Noone, HC Steen-Larsen, A. Bailey, C. Cox, M. O’Neill, D. Schneider, J. White and K. Steffen. (2016)  Surface-atmosphere decoupling limits accumulation at Summit, Greenland. Science Advances. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501704

Notable Honors

2018, Silver Circle Teaching Award, UIC


BA Geology, 2002, Pomona College

PhD Earth Sciences, 2010, University of Southern California

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, 2013, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado