Jonathan Sanderman Ph.D.

  • Carbon Program Director
  • Senior Scientist
Joanthan Sanderman

Dr. Jonathan Sanderman’s work focuses on the role that soils can play in climate mitigation and sustainable food production. He strives to understand the processes that add, remove, and transform carbon in soils, ranging from coastal marshes to tropical forests and working farmlands. Throughout his career, he has uncovered under-recognized complexity in soil carbon reservoirs. Dr. Sanderman’s research encompasses both place-based, experimental work and large-scale computer modeling.

Dr. Jon Sanderman holding handful of soil

left: Collecting soil water in the Caspar Creek experimental watershed, northern California.

right: Learning about community based natural farming in Andhra Pradesh, India.

In 2017, Dr. Sanderman led efforts to produce the first estimate of the global soil carbon debt created by thousands of years of agriculture. Currently, much of Dr. Sanderman’s attention is focused on both developing high-quality, cost-effective methods for monitoring climate benefits of various land management strategies on working lands and understanding how to ensure voluntary carbon markets deliver real climate benefits. He works with a diverse group of partners and collaborators in industry, academia, government, and environmental advocacy.

When he’s not immersed in soil, Dr. Sanderman can be found enjoying the ocean or mountains with his family.

On a global scale, soils store 3-5 times as much carbon as trees. But it’s not just the amount. The form carbon is in is really important, and soil carbon is one of the most complex.


Big sky over lush valley

Carbon Monitoring in Rangelands

Restoring rangelands for climate adaptation and mitigation


Bringing together soil scientists, spectroscopists, informaticians, data scientists, and software engineers to overcome bottlenecks preventing wider and more efficient use of soil spectroscopy.
cross-section of soil layers

Soils Revealed

An open-access, interactive platform tracking soil carbon change that has predicted the potential amount of carbon our soils could hold.
Katama wetlands, Martha's Vineyard

Climate Smart MV

Supporting climate-smart land management and risk reduction strategies.
A man holds dry, clumpy soil in his hands

Taking stock of soil carbon

Reducing uncertainties to build confidence that soil carbon can deliver climate benefits
A forested swamp where the ground is mossy

Land as a natural climate solution

Estimating the global potential for increasing carbon storage on land.

Selected Publications

We need a solid scientific basis for nature-based climate solutions in the United States

Novick, K.A., T.F. Keenan, W.R.L. Anderegg, C.P. Normile, B.R.K. Runkle, E.E. Oldfield, G. Shrestha, D.D. Baldocchi, M.E.K. Evans, J.T. Randerson, J. Sanderman, M.S. Torn, A.T. Trugman, & C.A. Williams (2024). PNAS.


Making the case for an International Decade of Radiocarbon

Eglinton, T.I. et al. (2023). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.