Christopher R. Schwalm Ph.D.

  • Risk Program Director
  • Senior Scientist
Christopher R. Schwalm

Dr. Christopher Schwalm sees the impacts of climate change in his daily life and envisions a world in which all decisions are made with climate risk in mind. He leads Woodwell Climate’s Risk Program, which assesses physical climate risk to human and natural systems. Dr. Schwalm is an internationally-recognized global change ecologist and Earth system modeler. His research focuses on climate extremes, with emphasis on drought impacts, as well as understanding how carbon, water, and plant nutrients move through land ecosystems.

Dr. Schwalm leads Woodwell Climate Research Center’s work with Wellington Management, connecting climate risk to capital markets. He also directs our initiative with McKinsey & Company, which led to the January 2020 report Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts. His research has been published in leading scientific journals and has been featured by the New York Times, CBS News, and NPR.

Dr. Schwalm is based in Arizona. He is an avid hiker who enjoys the physical challenge and dramatic beauty of the Grand Canyon.

I have always felt that I sat at a fulcrum between science and policy. Woodwell Climate offers an opportunity to be a translator and have greater impact.


Katama wetlands, Martha's Vineyard

Climate Smart MV

Supporting climate-smart land management and risk reduction strategies.
Above: Projected flood risk for Decorah, Iowa. / map by Carl Churchill

Woodwell & Wellington

Collaborating to integrate climate risk into financial decision making
A forested swamp where the ground is mossy

Land as a natural climate solution

Estimating the global potential for increasing carbon storage on land.

Municipal Risk Assessments

Ensuring communities have the information they need to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate

Selected Publications

RCP8. 5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions

Schwalm, C. R., S. Glendon and P. B. Duffy (2020). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Ghosts of the past: how drought legacy effects shape forest functioning and carbon cycling

Kannenberg, S. A., C. R. Schwalm and W. R. Anderegg (2020). Ecology Letters.


Global patterns of drought recovery

Schwalm, C. R., et al. (2017). Nature.