Ruth K. Varner

Ruth Varner

Phone: (603) 862-0853
Office: Earth Systems Research Center, Morse Hall Rm 455, Durham, NH 03824
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Ruth Varner is a Professor of Biogeochemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences and the Earth Systems Research Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.

Her research is on trace gas emissions from terrestrial, aquatic and human-managed ecosystems. In her early career she focused on developing novel methods to measure very low-concentration, reactive halogenated trace gases. Over the past several decades she has established and maintained long-term measurements of methane emissions from wetlands and permafrost peatlands. She currently collaborates with microbial ecologists, remote sensing specialists, and modelers to address questions of scaling processes from regions to the globe. She integrates graduate and undergraduate students into her research and outreach. She has served as the Director of UNH’s Leitzel Center, where she developed and participated in professional development for K-12 STEM teachers. She has also served as the Director of the NSF REU Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduates program. She is currently the Director of the Collaborative Links to Ocean Science and Earth Science Graduate Academic Programs (CLOSES-GAP), an NSF GEOPATHS program collaborative with minority-serving institutions to broaden participation in the geosciences by engaging undergraduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups. She also co-directs the EMERGE Biological Integration Institute.

Courses Taught

  • ESCI 642: Biogeosci Earth System
  • ESCI 795/995: Topics
  • ESCI 796/996: Topics/Arctic Seminar
  • ESCI 997: Seminar in Earth Sciences
  • INCO 790: Adv Rsrch Exp/Earth Sciences


  • Ph.D., Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire
  • Ph.D., Geochemistry, University of New Hampshire
  • M.S., Hydrology&Water Resources Sci., University of New Hampshire
  • B.A., Geology/Earth Science, Hartwick College

Selected Publications

  • Perryman, C. R., McCalley, C. K., Ernakovich, J. G., Lamit, L. J., Shorter, J. H., Lilleskov, E., & Varner, R. K. (2022). Microtopography Matters: Belowground CH4 Cycling Regulated by Differing Microbial Processes in Peatland Hummocks and Lawns. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-BIOGEOSCIENCES, 127(8). doi:10.1029/2022JG006948

  • Malone, S. L., Oh, Y., Arndt, K. A., Burba, G., Commane, R., Contosta, A. R., . . . Varner, R. K. (2022). Gaps in network infrastructure limit our understanding of biogenic methane emissions for the United States. BIOGEOSCIENCES, 19(9), 2507-2522. doi:10.5194/bg-19-2507-2022

  • Wilson, R. M., Hough, M. A., Verbeke, B. A., Hodgkins, S. B., Chanton, J. P., Saleska, S. D., . . . Coordinators, I. (2022). Plant organic matter inputs exert a strong control on soil organic matter decomposition in a thawing permafrost peatland. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 820. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152757

  • Kashi, N. N., Hobbie, E. A., Varner, R. K., Wymore, A. S., Ernakovich, J. G., & Giesler, R. (2022). Nutrients Alter Methane Production and Oxidation in a Thawing Permafrost Mire. ECOSYSTEMS. doi:10.1007/s10021-022-00758-5

  • Arndt, K. A., Campbell, E. E., Dorich, C. D., Grandy, A. S., Griffin, T. S., Ingraham, P., . . . Contosta, A. R. (2022). Initial soil conditions outweigh management in a cool-season dairy farm's carbon sequestration potential. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 809. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152195

  • Wik, M., Varner, R. K., Anthony, K. W., MacIntyre, S., & Bastviken, D. (2016). Climate-sensitive northern lakes and ponds are critical components of methane release. NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 9(2), 99-+. doi:10.1038/NGEO2578

  • Treat, C. C., Wollheim, W. M., Varner, R. K., Grandy, A. S., Talbot, J., & Frolking, S. (2014). Temperature and peat type control CO2 and CH4 production in Alaskan permafrost peats. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 20(8), 2674-2686. doi:10.1111/gcb.12572

  • Silver, W. L., Thompson, A. W., McGroddy, M. E., Varner, R. K., Dias, J. D., Silva, H., . . . Keller, M. (2005). Fine root dynamics and trace gas fluxes in two lowland tropical forest soils. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 11(2), 290-306. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.00903.x

  • Bubier, J. L., Crill, P. M., Moore, T. R., Savage, K., & Varner, R. K. (1998). Seasonal patterns and controls on net ecosystem CO2 exchange in a boreal peatland complex. GLOBAL BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, 12(4), 703-714. doi:10.1029/98GB02426

  • SHORTER, J. H., KOLB, C. E., CRILL, P. M., KERWIN, R. A., TALBOT, R. W., HINES, M. E., & HARRISS, R. C. (1995). RAPID DEGRADATION OF ATMOSPHERIC METHYL-BROMIDE IN SOILS. NATURE, 377(6551), 717-719. doi:10.1038/377717a0

  • Most Cited Publications