Stephen Frolking

Phone: (603) 862-0244
Office: Earth Systems Research Center, Morse Hall, Durham, NH 03824
A headshot of Steve Frolking, a research professor in the Earth Systems Research Center.

I am a Research Professor of Earth System Science in the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, jointly appointed in the Dept. of Earth Sciences, and Faculty Chair of the interdisciplinary Natural Resources and Earth System Science PhD Program. I earned a B.S./M.S. in Physics from UNH, a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences/Biogeochemistry from UNH, and was a post-doc in NOAA’s Program in Climate and Global Change. My research focus is on the interaction between natural and/or managed terrestrial ecosystems and the climate system, in the context of climate and global change. I have active research in several areas within the broader field of Earth System Science: (1) peatland carbon balance and long-term carbon accumulation, including consequences of land use and permafrost thaw; (2) water resources and sustainability in the 21st century; (3) global land use, including carbon and nitrogen cycling in agroecosystems at regional to global scales; and (4) remote sensing analyses of global urban change. Research tools include ecosystem and hydrological modeling, remote sensing, and data analysis, and generally involve interdisciplinary collaborations.


  • Ph.D., Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire
  • M.S., Physics, University of New Hampshire
  • B.S., Physics, University of New Hampshire

Courses Taught

  • ESCI 796: Top/Biogeochemistry
  • NRES 997: Interdisciplinary Research
  • NRES 999: Doctoral Research

Selected Publications

Dommain, R., Frolking, S., Jeltsch-Thömmes, A., Joos, F., Couwenberg, J., & Glaser, P. H. (2018). A radiative forcing analysis of tropical peatlands before and after their conversion to agricultural plantations. Global Change Biology, 24(11), 5518-5533. doi:10.1111/gcb.14400

Warren, M., Frolking, S., Dai, Z., & Kurnianto, S. (2017). Impacts of land use, restoration, and climate change on tropical peat carbon stocks in the twenty-first century: implications for climate mitigation. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 22(7), 1041-1061. doi:10.1007/s11027-016-9712-1

Li, H., Wang, L., Li, J., Gao, M., Zhang, J., Zhang, J., . . . Frolking, S. (2017). The development of China-DNDC and review of its applications for sustaining Chinese agriculture. Ecological Modelling, 348, 1-13. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2017.01.003

Grogan, D. S., Wisser, D., Prusevich, A., Lammers, R. B., & Frolking, S. (2017). The use and re-use of unsustainable groundwater for irrigation: a global budget. Environmental Research Letters, 12(3), 034017. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa5fb2

Zaveri, E., Grogan, D. S., Fisher-Vanden, K., Frolking, S., Lammers, R. B., Wrenn, D. H., . . . Nicholas, R. E. (2016). Invisible water, visible impact: groundwater use and Indian agriculture under climate change. Environmental Research Letters, 11(8), 084005. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084005

Gray, J. M., Frolking, S., Kort, E. A., Ray, D. K., Kucharik, C. J., Ramankutty, N., & Friedl, M. A. (2014). Direct human influence on atmospheric CO2 seasonality from increased cropland productivity. Nature, 515(7527), 398-401. doi:10.1038/nature13957

Frolking, S., Milliman, T., Seto, K. C., & Friedl, M. A. (2013). A global fingerprint of macro-scale changes in urban structure from 1999 to 2009. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 024004. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024004

Frolking, S., & Roulet, N. T. (2007). Holocene radiative forcing impact of northern peatland carbon accumulation and methane emissions. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 13(5), 1079-1088. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01339.x

Li, C., Frolking, S., & Butterbach-Bahl, K. (2005). Carbon Sequestration in Arable Soils is Likely to Increase Nitrous Oxide Emissions, Offsetting Reductions in Climate Radiative Forcing. Climatic Change, 72(3), 321-338. doi:10.1007/s10584-005-6791-5

Li, C., Frolking, S., & Frolking, T. A. (1992). A model of nitrous oxide evolution from soil driven by rainfall events: 1. Model structure and sensitivity. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 97(D9), 9759-9776. doi:10.1029/92jd00509

Frolking, S., Roulet, N. T., Tuittila, E., Bubier, J. L., Quillet, A., Talbot, J., & Richard, P. J. H. (n.d.). A new model of Holocene peatland net primary production, decomposition, water balance, and peat accumulation. Earth System Dynamics, 1(1), 1-21. doi:10.5194/esd-1-1-2010

Heinimann, A., Mertz, O., Frolking, S., Egelund Christensen, A., Hurni, K., Sedano, F., . . . Hurtt, G. (n.d.). A global view of shifting cultivation: Recent, current, and future extent. PLOS ONE, 12(9), e0184479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0184479