Karina VR Schäfer is an Ecosystem Ecologist at Rutgers University—Newark, NJ, USA. She received her MSc from the University of Bayreuth, Germany and her PhD from Duke University, USA. Her research focuses on greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems with particular emphasis on global climate change. Moreover, the question of how disturbance is changing structure and function of forests and wetlands and how this influences carbon and water cycling on these ecosystem level are the primary focus of her research.
My primary research interests lie in the realm of global change and its effects on terrestrial ecosystems. To this point, my research has focused on refining carbon budgets of forest ecosystems through sapflow based canopy conductance. In my current project I am adapting and re-parameterizing the Canopy Conductance Constrained Assimilation model (4CA) which I originally developed for a pine ecosystem at Duke. Once the model has been parameterized and validated at a specific site, climate change scenarios can be tested by using predicted values and implementing into the model predicting the outcome for that scenario for that site.
While it is extremely important to assess sinks of CO2 and changes to sink strengths that might be expected under rising CO2 conditions, I am now directing my research into the sources as well. I am currently working on expanding my work into urban ecology through eddy-covariance measurements. In collaboration with the Meadowland Environmental Research Institute I will be measuring CO2 fluxes in the Meadowlands to assess source and sink strength and devise a carbon budget. As CO2 has become a trading commodity, assessment of a city CO2 budget with a bottom up approach can help finding mitigating strategies (Stern Report 2007).