Corinne Le Quéré (CBE, FRS)
Carbon Cycle & Climate Change Scientist
Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science, School of Environmental Sciences
Research Group Member, Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
Research Group Member, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Corinne’s research focuses on the interactions between the carbon cycle and climate change. This includes the development and analysis of global ocean carbon models and their marine ecosystem component, and the development and use of associated databases and metrics of change.
The original approaches developed by Corinne are helping to determine how and why the natural carbon reservoirs are changing, particularly in the Southern Ocean. Corinne spearheaded the development of marine carbon-cycle models with new ways to represent plankton biodiversity and ecology.
Leading the ClimateUEA research pillar: ‘The critical climate change decade’, Corinne also works on understanding the human and natural drivers of carbon emissions, and the science of emissions verification with Earth System Data. She looks at both emissions from fossil fuel burning and from land-use changes, the partitioning of these emissions among the atmosphere, land and oceans, and the economic and social drivers of recent trends.
Her wide-ranging interests have seen her work sporadically in such areas as sustainable development, the detection and attribution of ocean oxygen trends to climate change, and the economic benefits of reducing uncertainty in carbon emissions and sinks.
Corinne initiated and led for 13 years the annual update of the 'Global Carbon Budget' by the Global Carbon Project and was author of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Corinne has received multiple awards for her research. Most recently the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences (2020) and the Prince Albert I Medal of the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (2019). She is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher (2018 & 2019), was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 2016 and received a CBE for services to climate science in 2019. Corinne is also Chair for France's High Council on climate and a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change.
“My research has led to the identification of a carbon budget imbalance, which quantifies the frontier of understanding of carbon cycle processes.”
“My research focuses on understanding and explaining recent trends in the carbon cycle, from the natural carbon sink of the Southern Ocean to the human drivers of CO2 emissions.
I like to capture change as it takes place. I like to untangle complex interactions between the natural environment, its physical and biological processes, and society. I think that if we have a good grasp of the world around us and how it operates, we are in a good place to anticipate and prepare for future change. We’re in an era of global change, which we need to peacefully transform to an era of global sustainability. I provide the science and advice to do just that.”
- Global Carbon Budget – Corinne instigated the annual publication of the 'Global Carbon Budget' as part of the Global Carbon Project. This community effort provides timely information of policy-relevant carbon research and helps stabilise the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is the main driver of climate change. The team published the first assessment of changes in CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ScienceBrief – Corinne is the Founder and Director of ScienceBrief, a collaborative web platform that helps makes sense of peer-reviewed publications and keep up with science in critical areas, such as climate change, health and biodiversity.
- Southern Ocean CO2 sink Corinne leads the SONATA and CELOS projects as part of the UKRI programme on the Role of the Southern Ocean in the Earth System (RoSES). These projects aim to understand trends and drivers of the Southern Ocean carbon sink, one of the most important and poorly understood components of the global carbon cycle that profoundly shapes Earth’s climate.
- Dynamic Green Ocean Project - Corinne steers the development of marine ecosystem components in global carbon cycle models through an informal group of theoretical ecologists, modellers and observationalists with common interests of understanding the interactions between marine ecosystems and climate change.
Thinking Without Borders
“Now is the time when Climate Science is most needed, to inform the big decisions of our time. The more we learn about the Earth, the more obvious it becomes that humans are an intrinsic part of the planet. Understanding how humans interact with scientific knowledge and how that knowledge helps inform good decisions for society is key to progress on tackling climate change. That’s why I work hard, not only to do great science, but also to interact with other researchers, with policymakers and with the public more broadly.”