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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Robert Howarth


Hylodes phyllodes, a stream-breeding frog from Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil


Biology of Fishes class collecting at Oneida Lake


An Acacia tree backlit by the African sunset


Pisaster ochraceus in the intertidal


Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, growing in Ithaca

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Howarth, Robert

The David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology

phone: 607-255-6175
room: E309 Corson Hall


Lab Website
Research on Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Shale Gas
International SCOPE Biofuels Project


B.A. 1974, Amherst College

Ph.D. 1979, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Graduate Fields:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Natural Resources
Crop and Soil Sciences

Other Cornell Affiliations:

Director, Agriculture, Energy & Environment Program

Chair, International SCOPE Biofuels Program

Adjunct Senior Scientist, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole

Founding Editor, Biogeochemistry

Reviews Editor, Estuaries & Coasts


Ecosystem science, biogeochemistry, aquatic ecology, oceanography, earth systems science

Research Focus

Our lab works broadly on biogeochemistry and aquatic ecosystem science. Specific topics include global and regional nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; environmental consequences of biofuels; role of trace gases in global warming and climate disruption; life-cycle analysis for greenhouse-gas footprint of energy technologies; influence of land-use, management practices, and climate change on nutrient fluxes from the landscape; atmospheric deposition of nitrogen onto the landscape; controls and consequences of eutrophication in estuaries; biotic, physical, and geochemical controls on nitrogen fixation; and environmental management and the effects of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems.

Recent Courses Taught

  • BioEE 1610 Ecology and the Environment
  • BioEE 3610 Advanced Ecology
  • BioEE 4780 Ecosystem Biology
  • BioEE 6680 Principles of Biogeochemistry

Selected Publications

Howarth, R. W. and A. Ingraffea. 2011. Should fracking stop? Yes, it is too high risk.  Nature 477:271-273.

Howarth, R. W., R. Santoro, and A. Ingraffea. 2011. Methane and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations.  Climatic Change Letters 106(4):679-690, DOI:10.1007/s10584-011-0061-5.

Howarth, R. W., G. Billen, F. Chan, D. Conley, S. C. Doney, J. Garnier, and R. Marino. 2011. Coupled biogeochemical cycles: Eutrophication and hypoxia in coastal marine ecosystems.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9:18-26, DOI: 10.1890/100008.

Howarth, R. W., D. Swaney, G. Billen, J. Garnier, B. Hong, C. Humborg, P. Johnes, C. Morth, and R. Marino. 2011. Nitrogen fluxes from large watershed to coastal ecosystems controlled by net anthropogenic nitrogen inputs and climate.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (in press), DOI:10.1890/100178.

Townsend, A. and R. W. Howarth. 2010. Human acceleration of the global nitrogen cycle.  Scientific American 302(1):32-39.

Johnson, P. T. J., A. R. Townsend, C. C. Cleveland, P. M. Glibert, R. W. Howarth, V. J. McKenzie, E. Rejmankova, and M. H. Ward. 2010. Linking environmental nutrient enrichment and disease emergence in humans and wildlife.  Ecological Applications 20:16-29.

Najjar, R., C. R. Pyke, M. B. Adams, D. Breitburg, C. Hershner, M. Kemp, R. Howarth, M. R. Mulholand, M. Paolisso, D. Secor, K. Sellner, D. Wardrop, and R. Wood. 2010. Potential climate-change impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.  Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science 86:1-20.

Conley, D. J., H. W. Paerl, R. W. Howarth, D. F. Boesch, S. P. Seitzinger, K. E. Havens, C. Lancelot, and G. E. Likens. 2009. Controlling eutrophication: Nitrogen and phosphorus.  Science 323:1014-1015.

Boesch, D., W. Boynton, L. Crowder, R. Diaz, R. Howarth, L. Mee, S. Nixon, N. Rabalais, R. Rosenberg, J. Sanders, D. Scavia, and R. Turner. 2009. Nutrient enrichment drives Gulf of Mexico hypoxia.  Eos 90:117-128.

Howarth, R. W. and S. Bringezu (eds). 2009. Biofuels: Environmental Consequences and Interactions with Changing Land Use.  Proceedings of the International SCOPE Biofuels Project Rapid Assessment (

Howarth, R. W. 2008. Coastal nitrogen pollution: A review of sources and trends globally and regionally.  Harmful Algae 8:14-20.

Davidson, E. and R. W. Howarth. 2007. Nutrients in synergy.  Nature 449:1000-1001.

Howarth, R. W. and R. Marino. 2006. Nitrogen as the limiting nutrient for eutrophication in coastal marine ecosystems: Evolving views over 3 decades.  Limnology and Oceanography 51:364-376.