University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
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Last updated on Friday, December 15, 2017     Make updates ->

Kimberly  Carlson

Name :

Kimberly Carlson

Title :

Assistant Professor

Unit :

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management

Address :

1910 East-West Road
                    Honolulu, HI 96822

Room :

Sherman Lab 130

Phone :


Fax :


E-mail :

Website :

Specialties :

land use and land cover change, remote sensing, tropical agricultural commodities, human-environment interactions, supply chains, climate change mitigation, greenhouse gas emissions

Professional Prep/Appointments :

2012 PhD, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
2004 BS, Biology, Stanford University

Projects :

Measuring and Modeling Land Use Outcomes Under Novel Environmental Governance Initiatives
International agricultural supply chains originating in the tropics are the focus of diverse efforts, such as zero-deforestation commitments by companies, to improve the sustainability of agriculture. Many of these initiatives rely on sourcing products that are certified as sustainable by third parties who frequently employ practice-based standards. Yet, the effects of such non-state market based governance initiatives on environmental and social outcomes remain largely untested. This project broadly examines how novel environmental governance initiatives levied on tropical agriculture alter land use and livelihoods. With collaborators including Holly Gibbs at the University of Wisconsin, the National Wildlife Federation, Douglas Morton at NASA Goddard, and Robert Heilmayr at the University of California Santa Barbara, we are assessing whether Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification alters land use outcomes in Southeast Asia. This work is supported in part by a grant from the NASA Early Career Investigator Program in Earth Science. In collaboration with Rachael Garrett at Boston University and supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and National Science Foundation (NSF), we are modeling the potential impacts of zero-deforestation commitments in the soybean sector of South America.

Mapping High Carbon Stock Forests
Diverse companies in the agricultural sector have recently committed to eliminate tropical deforestation from their supply chains. The High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach supports these commitments by providing a set of transparent and science-based steps to discern biodiverse, carbon-rich forests from other areas. This project applies the HCS Approach over Sumatra and Borneo islands using Google Earth Engine. We are using field-based forest structure assessments to support classification of multispectral satellite data to major HCS land cover classes. A grant from Google supports this work, which is done in collaboration with Robert Heilmayr at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Global Agriculture
Currently, the food system contributes about a third of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Improving cropland ’emissions efficiency’ – the amount of food produced relative to greenhouse gas emissions associated with this production – is necessary to jointly meet future climate and food targets. While agricultural expansion (e.g., forest clearing for croplands) is a commonly-recognized source of carbon dioxide emissions, agricultural management is also associated with net emissions, including nitrous oxide from fertilizer application, methane from rice flooding, and carbon dioxide from peatland draining. This project aims to assess the emissions efficiency of global croplands, with focus on individual crops and countries. This work is done in collaboration with the Global Landscapes Initiative at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

Courses Taught:

NREM 302 - Natural Resource and Environmental Policy
NREM 494 - Environmental Problem Solving
NREM 491/691 - Agricultural Land Use
NREM 691 - Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Research Interests :

Agriculture is expanding mainly in the tropics. However, interactions between tropical land use and ecosystem function, as well as their socio-economic outcomes, are often poorly characterized. I leverage diverse methods including innovative analysis of remote sensing products, land change modeling, and field data collected using natural and social science methods to provide spatially-explicit datasets that can be used to examine these important research objectives. My work is solutions-oriented and informs environmental policies and practices at local to global scales.

Selected Recent Publications :

Carlson KM*, R Heilmayr*, HK Gibbs, P Noojipady, DN Burns, DC Morton, NF Walker, G Paoli, and C Kremen. Accepted. Effect of oil palm sustainability certification on deforestation and fire in Indonesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: Early Online. *denotes equal contribution.

Noojipady P, DC Morton, W Schroeder, KM Carlson, C Huang, HK Gibbs, D Burns, NF Walker, SD Prince. 2017. Managing fire risk during drought: the influence of certification and El Niño on fire-driven forest conversion for oil palm in Southeast Asia. Earth System Dynamics 8:749-771.

Wells J, S Crow, N Meki, CA Sierra, KM Carlson, A Youkhana, DT Richardson and L Deem. 2017. Maximizing Soil Carbon Sequestration: Assessing Procedural Barriers to Carbon Management in Cultivated Tropical Perennial Grass Systems. Recent Advances in Carbon Capture and Storage. Ed. Yongseung Yun. (InTech). doi:10.5772/66741

Carlson KM
, JS Gerber, N.D. Mueller, M Herrero, GK MacDonald, KA Brauman, P Havlik, CS O’Connell, JA Johnson, S Saatchi, and PC West. 2017. Greenhouse gas emissions intensity of global croplands. Nature Climate Change 7: 63-68.

Ponette-González AG, LM Curran, AM Pittman, KM Carlson, BG Steele, D Ratnasari, Mugiman, and KC Weathers. 2016. Biomass burning drives atmospheric nutrient redistribution within forested peatlands in Borneo. Environmental Research Letters 11:085003.

Gerber JS, KM Carlson, D Makowski, ND Mueller, IG de Cortazar-Atauri, P Havlik, M Herrero, M Launay, CS O’Connell, P Smith, and PC West. 2016. Spatially explicit estimates of N2O emissions from croplands suggest climate mitigation opportunities from improved fertilizer management. Global Change Biology 22:3383-3394.

Garrett RD*, KM Carlson*, X Rueda, and P Noojipady. 2016. Assessing the potential additionality of certification by the Round table on Responsible Soybeans and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Environmental Research Letters 11:045003. *denotes equal contribution.

Languages :

english, indonesian, portuguese