Julie Loisel


Peatlands and wetlands, soils, carbon cycling, terrestrial ecosystem dynamics, paleoecology, paleoclimatology, environmental change, Holocene, alpine, arctic, and antarctic regions

Dr. Julie Loisel was born and raised near Montreal, in the Quebec province of Canada. Prior to earning a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Physical Geography at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), she spent two years traveling across Canada and western Europe, where she worked as a ski instructor and ski guide. Dr. Loisel moved to Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley in 2008 to complete a PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lehigh University, where she studied the contrasting Holocene carbon dynamics in peatlands from Alaska and Patagonia. After three years working as a post-doc at Lehigh and then UCLA, she moved to Houston to join Texas A&M University in 2015.

Dr. Loisel is an early-career ecosystem scientist specializing in the structure and function of belowground (peat and soil) natural systems. She has conducted or led a number of scientific field trips in the US Southwest, Canada, Alaska, southern Patagonia (Chile and Argentina), Peru, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Those expeditions were funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, Lehigh University, Texas A&M University, DoD's Southwest Climate Science Center, and NSERC (Canada). Her research is empirical by nature; in the field and the lab, she studies how terrestrial ecosystems respond to environmental change over short (annual) to long (millennia) timescales, with an emphasis on linkages between carbon and climate. She also specializes in Holocene paleoenvironmental reconstructions from peat cores using a suite of proxies (plant fossils, stable isotopes, pollen, testate amoebae, etc.) and models.

Dr. Loisel co-leads C-PEAT, an international group on peatland-carbon research sponsored by Past Global Changes (PAGES). She was also recently elected as a science steering group member of the International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN). In concert with the ISCN, her team is developing the largest and most comprehensive global soil database, which holds promise in terms of generating transdisciplinary projects and knowledge around human health as well as soil, food, water, and energy security. She is developing a soil valuation framework and management tool that links soil attributes with ecosystem services to help deliver and disseminate clear assessments of soil health, soil benefits to society, and risks associated with land management practices.

Selected Publications

43- Loisel J. 2021. CubeSats technology and periglacial landscape analysis. In: M Bishop and J Giardino (eds.). Treatise in Geomorphology, 2nd edition. Elsevier. Invited book chapter.

42- Loisel J, Gallego-Sala AV, Amesbury MJ, Magnan G, Anshari G, Beilman D, Benavides JC, Blewett J, Camill P, Charman DJ,  Chawchai S, Hedgpeth A, Kleinen T, Korhola A, Large D, Mansilla CA, Müller J, van Bellen S, West JB, Yu Z, Bubier J, Garneau M, Moore T, Sannel ABK., Page S, Väliranta M, Bechtold M, Brovkin V, Cole LES, Chanton JP, Christensen TR, Davies MA, De Vleeschouwer F, Finkelstein SA, Frolking S, Gałka M, Gandois L, Girkin N, Harris L, Heinemeyer A, Hoyt AM, Jones MC, Joos F, Juutinen S, Kaiser K, Lacourse T, Lamentowicz M, Larmola T, Leifeld J, Lohila A, Milner A, Minkkinen K, Moss P, Naafs BDA, Nichols J, O’Donnell J, Payne R, Philben M, Quillet A, Ratnayake AS, Roland T, Sjogersten S, Sonnentag O, Swindles GT, Swinnen W, Talbot J, Treat C, Valach AC, Wu J, Piilo S. 2020. Future vulnerability of the global peatland carbon sink. Nature Climate Change. Outreach pieces were also published in The Conversation and Carbon Brief.

41- Hugelius G, Loisel J, Chadburn S, Jackson R, MacDonald G, Marushchak M, Packalen M, Siewert M, Treat C, Turetsky M, Voigt C, Yu Z. 2020. Large stocks of peatland carbon and nitrogen are vulnerable to permafrost thaw. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(34): 20438-20446.

40- Loisel J, Bunsen MS*. 2020. Abrupt fen-bog transition across southern Patagonia: timing, causes, and impacts on carbon sequestration. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8:273.

39- Bunsen MS*, Loisel J. 2020. Carbon storage dynamics in peatlands: Comparing recent‐ and long‐term accumulation histories in southern Patagonia. Global Change Biology, 26(10): 5778-5795.

38- Xia Z, Zheng Y, Stelling J, Loisel J, Huang Y, Yu Z. 2020. Understanding environmental controls on the carbon and water isotopes in peatland Sphagnum mosses. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, 277(15): 265-284.

37- Gunderson K, Holmes C, Loisel J. 2020. Recent digital technology trends in geoscience teaching, research, and practice. GSA Today, 30(1): 39-41.

36- Amesbury M, Gallego-Sala A, Loisel J. 2019. Peatlands are prolific carbon sinks. Invited article.

Nature Geoscience, 12:880-881.

35- Gallego-Sala A, Loisel J. 2019. Peatland ecosystem services during the Anthropocene and beyond. Past Global Changes Magazine, 27(2), 77.

34- Jiang Z*, Von Ness K*, Loisel J, Wang A. 2019. ArcticNet: A Deep Learning Solution to Classify Arctic Wetlands. Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition.

33- Loisel J, Casellas Connors J, Hugelius G, Harden J, Morgan C. 2019. Soils can help mitigate CO2 emissions, despite the challenges. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(21): 10211-10212.

32-Treat C, Broothaerts N, Dalton A, Dommain R, Douglas T, …, Loisel J, …, Verstraeten G, Williams C, Xia Z, Yu Z, Brovkin V. 2019. Widespread global peatland establishment and persistence since the last interglacial. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

31-Galka M, Szal M, Broder T, Loisel J, Knorr K-H. 2019. Peatbog resilience to pollution and climate change over the past 2700 years in the Harz Mountains, Germany. Ecological Indicators 97, 183-193.

30-Loisel J, Gallego-Sala A. 2018. A forward modeling approach to paleoclimatic interpretation of peat cores. Quaternary Perspectives, International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA).

29-Amesbury MJ, Booth RK, Roland TB, Bunbury J, Clifford MJ, …, Loisel J , …, Sullivan ME, Swindles GT, Talbot J, van Bellen S, Warner BG. 2018. Towards a global synthesis of peatland testate amoeba ecology: development of a new continental-scale palaeohydrological transfer function for North America and comparison to European data. Quaternary Science Reviews 201, 481-500.

28-Loisel J, Gallego-Sala A. 2018. New research directions for the PAGES C-PEAT working group. PAGES Newsletter, Past Global Changes (PAGES).

27-Gallego-Sala A, Charman D, Brewer S, Page S, Prentice C, …, Loisel J, …, van Geel B, Wang G, Yu Z, Zaragoza-Castells J, Zhao Y. 2018. Latitudinal limits to the predicted increase of the peatland carbon sink with warming. Nature Climate Change, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0271-1.

26-Xia Z, Yu Z, Loisel J. 2018. Centennial-scale dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds across the Drake Passage over the past two millennia. Geology, https://doi.org/10.1130/G40187.1

25-Stelling J, Yu Z, Beilman DW, Loisel J. 2018. Dynamic response of moss peatbank ecosystems to late Holocene hydroclimate change in the western Antarctic Peninsula. Quaternary Science Reviews, 188: 77-89, https://doi.org/ 10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.10.033.

24-Loisel J, MacDonald GM, Thomson M. 2017. Little Ice Age climatic erraticism as an analogue for future enhanced hydroclimatic variability across the American Southwest. PLoS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0186282.

23-Loisel J, Yu Z, Beilman DW, Kaiser K, Parnikoza I. 2017. Past and present peatland development in Antarctica under warm climates. Scientific Reports 7, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12479-0.

22-Harden J, Hugelius G, Ahlström A, Blankinship J, Bond-Lamberty B, …, Loisel J, …, Heckman K, Crow S, Silver W, DeLonge M, Nave L. 2017. Pathways for the science community to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.13896.

**One of the top 25 most downloaded GCB articles in 2018**

21-Loisel J, Malhotra A, Phillips C. 2017. A new platform for managing soil carbon and soil health. Eos Magazine, 98, American Geophysical Union (AGU), doi.org/10.1029/2017EO 080753.

20-Loisel J, van Bellen S, Pelletier L, Talbot J, Hugelius G, Karran D, Yu Z, Nichols J, Holmquist J. 2016. Insights and issues with estimating northern peatland carbon stocks and fluxes since the Last Glacial Maximum. Invited review. Earth Science Reviews, doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2016.12.001.

19-Yu Z, Beilman DW, Loisel J. 2016. Transformations of landscape and peat-forming ecosystems responding to late Holocene climate change in the western Antarctic Peninsula. Geophysical Research Letters. 43. doi: 10.1002/ 2016GL069380.

18-Loisel J. 2015. Peatlands as carbon sinks / Las turberas como sumideros de carbono, Chapter 11 p. 297-315. In: E Domínguez and D Vega-Valdés (eds.). Funciones y servicios ecosistémicos de las turberas en Magallanes. INIA Nº 33. Punta Arenas, Chile. 334 pp.

17-Treat CC, Jones MC, Camill P, Garneau M, Gallego-Sala A, …, Loisel J, …, Ronkainen TM, Sannel ABK, Talbot J, Tarnocai CM, Väliranta M. 2015. Effects of permafrost aggradation on peat properties as determined from a pan-arctic synthesis of plant macrofossils. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. 121(1): 78-94. doi:10.1002/2015JG003061.

16-Loisel J, Yu Z, Beilman DW, Camill P, Alm J, Amesbury MJ, Anderson D, Andersson S, Bochicchio C, Barber K, Belyea LR, Bunbury J, Chambers FM, Charman DJ, De Vleeschouwer F, Fiałkiewicz-Kozieł B, Finkelstein SA, Gałka M, Garneau M, Hammarlund D, Hinchcliffe W, Holmquist J, Hughes P, Jones MC, Klein ES, Kokfelt U, Korhola A, Kuhry P, Lamarre A, Lamentowicz M, Large D, Lavoie M, MacDonald G, Magnan G, Mäkilä M, Mallon G, Mathijssen P, Mauquoy D, McCarroll J, Moore TR, Nichols J, O’Reilly B, Oksanen P, Packalen M, Peteet D, Richard PJH, Robinson S, Ronkainen T, Rundgren M, Sannel ABK, Tarnocai C, Thom T, Tuittila E-S, Turetsky M, Väliranta M, van der Linden M, van Geel B, van Bellen S, Vitt D, Zhao Y, Zhou W. 2014. A database and synthesis of northern peatland soil properties and Holocene carbon and nitrogen accumulation. The Holocene 24(9), 1028-42.

15-Yu Z, Loisel J, Charman DJ, Beilman DW, Camill P. 2014. Holocene peatland carbon dynamics in the circum-Arctic region: an Introduction. The Holocene 24(9), 1021-27.

14-Loisel J, Yu Z, Charman D. 2014. A synthesis of northern peatland carbon accumulation history. Quaternary Perspectives Magazine, International Quaternary Association (INQUA).

13-Yu Z, Loisel J. 2014. Holocene circum-Arctic peatland carbon dynamics. PAGES Newsletter, Past Global Changes (PAGES), 22(1): 41.

12-Loisel J, Yu Z. 2013. Surface vegetation patterning controls carbon accumulation in peatlands. Geophysical Research Letters, 40: 1-6, doi:10.1002/grl.50744.

11-Loisel J, Yu Z. 2013. Holocene peatland carbon dynamics in Patagonia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 69: 125-141.

10-Loisel J, Yu Z, Parsekian A, Nolan J, Slater L. 2013. Quantifying landscape morphology influence on peatland lateral expansion using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and peat core analysis. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, 118, 10.1002/jgrg20029.

09-Yu Z, Loisel J, Turetsky MR, Cai S, Zhao Y, Frolking S, MacDonald GM, Bubier JL. 2013. Evidence for elevated emissions from high-latitude wetlands causing high atmospheric CH4 concentration in the early Holocene. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 27, 10.1002/gbc20025.

08-Loisel J, Yu Z. 2013. Recent acceleration of carbon accumulation in a boreal peatland, south-central Alaska. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, 118, 10.1029/2012jg001978.

07-Charman D, Beilman D, Blaauw M, Booth RK, Brewer S, …, Loisel J, …, Väliranta M, van Bellen S, van Geel B, Vitt D, Zhao Y. 2013. Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium. Biogeosciences, 10, 929-944, 10.5194/bg-10-929-2013.  

06-Loisel J, Gallego-Sala AV, Yu Z. 2012. Global-scale pattern of peatland Sphagnum growth driven by photosynthetically active radiation and growing season length. Biogeosciences, 9: 2737-2746.

05-Yu Z, Loisel J, Brosseau D, Beilman D, Hunt S. 2010. Global peatland dynamics since the Last Glacial Maximum. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L13402, 10.1029/2010GL043584.
***Research spotlight article in EOS***

04-Loisel J, Garneau M. 2010. Late-Holocene paleoecohydrology and carbon accumulation estimates from two boreal peat bogs in eastern Canada: potential and limits of multi-proxy analyses. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 291:493-533.

03-Loisel J, Garneau M, Hélie J-F. 2010. Sphagnum δ13C values as indicators of paleohydrolo-gical changes in a peat bog. The Holocene 20(2): 285-291.

02-Loisel J, Garneau M, Hélie J-F. 2009. Modern Sphagnum δ13C signatures follow a surface- moisture gradient in two boreal peat bogs, James Bay lowlands, Québec. J of Quaternary Science 24(3): 209-214.

01-Ali AA, Ghaleb B, Garneau M, Asnong H, Loisel J. 2008. Recent peat accumulation rates in minerotrophic peatlands of Bay James region, Eastern Canada, inferred by 210Pb and 137Cs radiometric techniques. Applied Radiation and Isotopes 66: 1350-1358.


Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University (2012)

M.Sc. in Physical Geography, University of Quebec - Montreal, Canada (2008)

B.Sc. in Physical Geography, University of Quebec - Montreal, Canada (2006)


Dean’s PhD Fellowship, Lehigh University (2011-2012)

Alexander Graham Bell Canada Doctoral Postgraduate Scholarship, NSERC (2008-2011)

Alexander Graham Bell Canada Masters Postgraduate Scholarship, NSERC (2006-2008)

Undergraduate Student Research Awards, NSERC (2004, 2005)

Additional Information

2018-  Co-leader of the Steering Group Committee, C-PEAT (Carbon in Peat on Earth through Time), a Past Global Changes (PAGES) Working Group on climate forcings.

2017-  Scientific Steering Group member, International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN).

2018-  Associate Editor, Climate of the Past

2018-  Associate Editor, Scientific Reports

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