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 climate risk to human and natural systems, and is an internationally-recognized global change ecologist and Earth system modeler. His research focuses on climate extremes, with an emphasis on drought impacts, as well as understanding how carbon, water, and plant nutrients cycle through land ecosystems.

Dr. Schwalm is the Program Director of Woodwell’s Risk program—a group of 15 scientists who work with multiple partners, from local communities to leading financial service firms. He leads Woodwell Climate’s work connecting climate risk to capital markets, including our long-standing partnership with Wellington Management. He also directs Woodwell’s outreach initiative to provide under-resourced communities globally with localized climate risk assessments. Finally, Dr. Schwalm leads the Center’s emergent work in climate security, the intersection between climate risk and national security.

His research has been published in leading scientific journals and has been featured by the New York Times, CBS News, and the Toronto Star, as well as S&P Global and The Diplomat.

Dr. Schwalm splits his time between Knoxville, TN, London, and Berlin. He is an avid hiker who enjoys the dramatic beauty of the Alps and the Grand Canyon.

I have always felt that I sat at the interface 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.

Woodwell Climate | Just Access

Eliminating barriers to climate resilience

Selected Publications

DiluviumDEM: Enhanced accuracy in global coastal digital elevation models

Dusseau, D., Z. Zobel, & C.R. Schwalm. (2023). Remote Sensing of Environment.


Observational and model evidence together support wide-spread exposure to noncompensable heat under continued global warming

Powis, C.M., D. Byrne, Z. Zobel, K.N. Gassert, A.C. Lute, & C.R. Schwalm. (2023). Science Advances.


RCP8. 5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions

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