Michael T. Coe Ph.D.

  • Tropics Program Director
  • Senior Scientist
Michael Coe

Dr. Michael Coe has studied forests and savannas from North America to Sub-Saharan Africa, but has focused his attention on the Amazon for more than twenty years. Combining field data, satellite observations, and computer models, he strives to provide a clearer understanding of how deforestation alters regional and global climate and affects the environment.

His work explores how expanding agriculture changes evaporation, soil moisture, river discharge, soil and river biogeochemistry, and climate. Dr. Coe and his colleagues work with Indigenous communities and a range of stakeholders, including large agricultural landholders, to develop and support science-based strategies for ending deforestation.

Dr. Mike Coe in front of a hammock and mosquito netting
Dr. Mike Coe in helmet and climbing harness

photos © Chris Linder

Dr. Coe has contributed to the improvement of land surface models and informed testimony before the National Congress of Brazil. Since 2019, when deforestation in the Amazon greatly increased, he and his colleagues have conducted hundreds of media interviews, correcting misinformation and raising public awareness about deforestation as the root cause of growing numbers of fires.

Dr. Coe’s interest in climate research was sparked in 1988 by seeing firsthand the impacts of severe drought on the Mississippi River, and by hearing the Congressional testimony of Drs. James Hansen and George Woodwell on climate change. Prior to joining Woodwell Climate Research Center, he spent seven years as a scientist at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2014, Dr. Coe was in residence as a Fulbright Scholar at the Federal University of Goiás, Brazil, working with colleagues there to understand how massive deforestation in the savanna regions of Brazil may affect the climate in coming decades.

We make a difference every year in the fight against deforestation. We collect new information, find out what it means, and most importantly, we get it to the right people—those making decisions in government and those on the ground protecting their forests.


A road marks a stark boundary between farmland and forest.


Ending legal deforestation in Brazil’s agricultural frontier
Two human figures darkly silhouetted against an orange sunset

Woodwell Climate @ Tanguro Field Station

Probing tropical ecosystem dynamics at the world’s largest agricultural frontier