Photo of Berkelhammer, Max

Max Berkelhammer, PhD

Associate Professor

Climate, Atmosphere, Land-Surface Processes


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, H2 18 O 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 Publications

  • Kermanshah, S. Terrible and  Berkelhammer(2017) Using Climate Models to Estimate Urban Vulnerability to Flash Floods. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. doi: 10.1175/JAMC-D-17-0083.1
  • Lasher, Y. Axford, J. McFarlin, M. Kelly, E. Osterberg and M. Berkelhammer (2017) Holocene climate in Northwest Greenland recorded in oxygen isotopes of lacustrine organic Materials.Quaternary Science Reviews. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.06.016
  • Berkelhammer, I Stefanescu, J. Joiner and L. Anderson (2017) High sensitivity of gross primary production in the Rocky Mountains to summer rain.Geophysical Research Letters. doi: 10.1002/2016GL072495
  • Berkelhammer, H.C. Steen-Larsen, A. Cosgrove, A. Peters, R. Johnson, M. Hayden and S.A. Montzka (2016) Radiation and atmospheric circulation controls on carbonyl sulfide concentrations in the marine boundary layer.Journal of Geophysical Research. doi: 10.1002/2016JD025437
  • Berkelhammer, D. Noone, T Wong, S. Burns, J. Knowles, A. Kaushik, P. Blanken and M. Williams (2016) Convergent approaches to determine an ecosystem’s transpiration fraction. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. doi: 10.1002/2016GB005392
  • 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
  • Anderson, M. Berkelhammer, J. Barron, B. Steinman, B. Finney and M. Abbott (2016) North American Rocky Mountain Hydroclimate:  Holocene patterns and variability at multi-decadal to millennial time scales.Global and Planetary Change.doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.12.021
  • Whelan, T. Hilton, J. Berry, M. Berkelhammer, A Desai and J. Campbell (2016) Carbonyl sulfide exchange in soils for better estimates of ecosystem carbon uptake.Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. doi: 10.5194/acp-16-3711-2016
  • Sinha, G. Kathayat, H. Cheng, S. Breitenbach and  Berkelhammer (2015)Trends, Oscillations and Anomalies in the Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall over the Last Two Millennia. Nature Communications.doi: 10.1038/ncomms7309
  • Berkelhammer, D. Asaf, D. Yakir, C. Still, S. Montzka, D. Noone. (2014) Constraining surface carbon fluxes using in situ measurements of carbonyl sulfide and carbon dioxide. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. doi:10.1002/2013GB004644


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