Karis J Mcfarlane

Staff Scientist
Atmospheric, Earth, and Energy Division
Email: kjmcfarlane@llnl.gov
Phone: +19254236285


  • Ph.D., Forest Engineering, Oregon State University, 2007
  • M.S., Forest and Natural Resources Management, SUNY-ESF, 2003
  • B.S., Environmental Science, DePaul University University, 2001

Research Interests

Karis McFarlane’s research uses radiocarbon to track carbon as it cycles within ecosystems and between ecosystems and the atmosphere. Her research addresses the complex relationship between climate change and the role ecosystems play in the carbon cycle from plot to regional scales. Karis has worked in managed and natural forests, prairie, croplands, and wetlands to investigate the factors influencing the amount and longevity of carbon stored in soil, the transfer of plant carbon into soil, and the source of carbon (new or old) used by soil microorganisms and released back to the atmosphere to improve our understanding and modeling of these complex earth systems.

Research and Professional Experience

2010–present, Earth Scientist, Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


  • DOE Office of Science Early Career Fellowship, 2016–present
  • PLS Outstanding Mentor Award, 2017
  • Best Poster Award-AEED, Postdoc Symposium, 2010


  • Graduate Mentor: Margaret Capoocci (University of Delaware, 2019-present), Alexandra Hedgpeth (UCLA, 2019-present), Kimber Moreland (UC Merced, 2018-present), Allegra Mayer (UC Berkeley, 2017–present), Nina Zhang (Colorado State, 2016–present)
  • Postdoc Mentor: Kari Finstad (2016–present), Claire Phillips (2012–2013)
  • Undergraduate Mentor: Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Internship Program (2015–2017, 2010); ROTC Program (2015–2016); NNSA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Internship Program (2013); DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI, 2013)


Fissore C., Nater E.A., McFarlane K.J., and Klein A.S. (2019) Decadal carbon decomposition dynamics in three peatlands in Northern Minnesota. Biogeochemistry 145(1): 63-79, doi: 10.1007/s10533-019-00591-4.

Lawrence C.R., Beem-Miller J., Hoyt A.M., Monroe G., Sierra C.A., Stoner S., Heckman K., Blankinship J.C., Crow S.E., McNicol G., Trumbore S., Levine P.S., Vindušková O., Todd-Brown K., Rasmussen C., Hicks Pries C.E., Schädel C., McFarlane K., Doetterl S., Hatté C., He Y., Treat C., Harden J.W., Torn M.S., Estop-Aragonés C., Berhe A.A., Keiluweit M., Marin-Spiotta E., Plante A.F., Thomson A., Schimel J.P., Vaughn L.J.S., and Wagai R. (2019) An open source database for the synthesis of soil radiocarbon data: ISRaD version 1.0. Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss. 1-37, doi: 10.5194/essd-2019-55.

McFarlane K.J., Hanson P.J., Iversen C.M., Phillips J.R., Brice D.J. (2018) Local spatial heterogeneity of Holocene carbon accumulation throughout the peat profile of an ombrotrophic Northern Minnesota bog. Radiocarbon 60:941-962, doi:10.1017/RDC.2018.37.

Lajtha K., Bailey V., McFarlane K., Paustian K., Bachelet D., Abramoff R., Angers D., Billings S., Cerkawoniak D., et. al. (2018). Ch. 12 Soils. 2nd State of the Carbon Cycle Report. Washington DC, US Carbon Cycle Science Program.

Griffiths, N.A., P.J. Hanson, D.M. Ricciuto, C.M. Iversen, A.M. Jensen, A. Malhotra, K.J. McFarlane, R. Norby, K. Sargsyan, S.D. Sebesteyen, X. Shi, A.P. Walker, E.J. Ward, J.M. Warren, and D.J. Weston, Temporal and Spatial Variation in Peatland Carbon Cycling and Implications for Interpreting Responses of an Ecosystem-Scale Warming Experiment, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. (2017).

Iversen, C.M., J. Childs, R.J. Norby, T.A. Ontl, R.K. Kolka, D.J. Brice, K.J. McFarlane, and P.J. Hanson, Fine-Root Growth in a Forested Bog Is Seasonally Dynamic, but Shallowly Distributed in Nutrient-Poor Peat, Plant and Soil (2017).

Hobbie, E.A., J. Chen, P.J. Hanson, C.M. Iversen, K.J. McFarlane, N.R. Thorp, and K.S. Hofmockel, Long-Term Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics at Spruce Revealed through Stable Isotopes in Peat Profiles, Biogeosciences 14, 2481 (2017).

Porras, R.C., C.E. Hicks Pries, K.J. McFarlane, P.J. Hanson, and M.S. Torn, Association with Pedogenic Iron and Aluminum: Effects on Soil Organic Carbon Storage and Stability in Four Temperate Forest Soils. Biogeochemistry 133, 333 (2017).

Wilson, R.M., A.M. Hopple, M.M. Tfaily, S.D. Sebestyen, C.W. Schadt, L. Pfeifer-Meister, C. Medvedeff, K.J. McFarlane, J.E. Kostka, M. Kolton, R.K. Kolka, L.A. Kluber, J.K. Keller, T.P. Guilderson, N.A. Griffiths, J.P. Chanton, S.D. Bridgham, and P.J. Hanson, Stability of Peatland Carbon to Rising Temperatures, Nature Communications 7, 13723 (2016).

LaFranchi, B.W., K.J. McFarlane, J.B. Miller, S.J. Lehman, C.L. Phillips, A.E. Andrews, P.P. Tans, H. Chen, Z. Liu, J.C. Turnbull, X. Xu, and T.P. Guilderson, Strong Regional Atmospheric 14c Signature of Respired Co2 Observed from a Tall Tower over the Midwestern United States, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 121, 2275 (2016).

McCorkle, E.P., A.A. Berhe, C.T. Hunsaker, D.W. Johnson, K.J. McFarlane, M.L. Fogel, and S.C. Hart, Tracing the Source of Soil Organic Matter Eroded from Temperate Forest Catchments Using Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes, Chemical Geology 445, 172 (2016).

Phillips, C.L., K.J. McFarlane, B. LaFranchi, A.R. Desai, J.B. Miller, and S.J. Lehman, Observations of 14co2 in Ecosystem Respiration from a Temperate Deciduous Forest in Northern Wisconsin, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 120, 600 (2015).

McFarlane, K.J., M.S. Torn, P.J. Hanson, R.C. Porras, C.W. Swanston, M.A. Callaham, and T.P. Guilderson, Comparison of Soil Organic Matter Dynamics at Five Temperate Deciduous Forests with Physical Fractionation and Radiocarbon Measurements, Biogeochemistry 112,457 (2013).

O’Brien, S., J. Jastrow, K.J. McFarlane, T. Guilderson, and M. Gonzalez-Meler, Decadal Cycling within Long-Lived Carbon Pools Revealed by Dual Isotopic Analysis of Mineral-Associated Soil Organic Matter, Biogeochemistry 112, 1 (2013).

Phillips, C.L., K.J. McFarlane, D. Risk, and A.R. Desai, Biological and Physical Influences on Soil 14co2 Seasonal Dynamics in a Temperate Hardwood Forest, Biogeosciences 10, 7999 (2013).

Frank, D.A., A.W. Pontes, and K.J. McFarlane, Controls on Soil Organic Carbon Stocks and Turnover among North American Ecosystems, Ecosystems 15, 604 (2013).

Powers, R.F., M.D. Busse, K.J. McFarlane, J. Zhang, and D.H. Young, Long-Term Effects of Silviculture on Soil Carbon Storage: Does Vegetation Control Make a Difference? Forestry 86, 47 (2012).

McFarlane, K.J., S.H. Schoenholtz, R.F. Powers, and S.S. Perakis, Soil Organic Matter Stability in Intensively Managed Ponderosa Pine Stands in California, Soil Science Society of America Journal 74, 979 (2010).

McFarlane, K.J., S.H. Schoenholtz, and R.F. Powers, Plantation Management Intensity Affects Belowground Carbon and Nitrogen Storage in Northern California, Soil Science Society of America Journal 74, 979 (2009).

Yanai, R.D., K.J. McFarlane, M.S. Lucash, S.E. Kulpa, and D.M. Wood, Similarity of Nutrient Uptake and Root Dimensions of Engelmann Spruce and Subalpine Fir at Two Contrasting Sites in Colorado, Forest Ecology and Management 258, 2233 (2009).

Lucash, M., D. Eissenstat, J.D. Joslin, K.J. McFarlane, and R. Yanai, Estimating Nutrient Uptake by Mature Tree Roots under Field Conditions: Challenges and Opportunities, Trees 21, 593 (2007).

McFarlane, K.J. and R. Yanai, Measuring Nitrogen and Phosphorus Uptake by Intact Roots of Mature Acer Saccharum Marsh., Pinus Resinosa Ait., and Picea Abies (L.) Karst, Plant and Soil 279, 163 (2006).