Ruth Varner

Director, Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education
Phone: (603) 862-0853
Office: Earth Systems Research Center, Morse Hall Rm 450, Durham, NH 03824

Ruth Varner is a Professor in the Earth Systems Research Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, and in the Department of Earth Sciences. She is also the Director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education at the University of New Hampshire.

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. As the Director of UNH’s Leitzel Center, she develops and participates in professional development for K-12 STEM teachers. She has 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.


  • 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

Courses Taught

  • ESCI 534: Techniques Environmental Sci
  • ESCI 642: Biogeosci Earth System
  • ESCI 747/847: Aqueous Geochemistry
  • INCO 790: Adv Rsrch Exp/Earth Sciences

Selected Publications

Contosta, A. R., Lerman, S. B., Xiao, J., & Varner, R. K. (2020). Biogeochemical and socioeconomic drivers of above- and below-ground carbon stocks in urban residential yards of a small city. Landscape and Urban Planning, 196, 103724. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.103724

Perryman, C. R., McCalley, C. K., Malhotra, A., Fahnestock, M. F., Kashi, N. N., Bryce, J. G., . . . Varner, R. K. (2020). Thaw Transitions and Redox Conditions Drive Methane Oxidation in a Permafrost Peatland. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 125(3). doi:10.1029/2019jg005526

Fahnestock, M. F., Bryce, J. G., McCalley, C. K., Montesdeoca, M., Bai, S., Li, Y., . . . Varner, R. K. (2019). Mercury reallocation in thawing subarctic peatlands. Geochemical Perspectives Letters, 33-38. doi:10.7185/geochemlet.1922

Burke, S. A., Wik, M., Lang, A., Contosta, A. R., Palace, M., Crill, P. M., & Varner, R. K. (2019). Long‐Term Measurements of Methane Ebullition From Thaw Ponds. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 124(7), 2208-2221. doi:10.1029/2018jg004786

Martinez, M. A., Woodcroft, B. J., Ignacio Espinoza, J. C., Zayed, A. A., Singleton, C. M., Boyd, J. A., . . . Rich, V. I. (2019). Discovery and ecogenomic context of a global Caldiserica-related phylum active in thawing permafrost, Candidatus Cryosericota phylum nov., Ca. Cryosericia class nov., Ca. Cryosericales ord. nov., Ca. Cryosericaceae fam. nov., comprising the four species Cryosericum septentrionale gen. nov. sp. nov., Ca. C. hinesii sp. nov., Ca. C. odellii sp. nov., Ca. C. terrychapinii sp. nov.. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 42(1), 54-66. doi:10.1016/j.syapm.2018.12.003

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), 99-105. 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
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 CO2exchange 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