Ellen Druffel is a biogeochemist and oceanographer recognized for her studies of the marine carbon cycle. Her group is known for use of 14C in corals as recorders of past change in ocean ventilation and mixing, and for her studies of the cycling of particulate and dissolved organic carbon in the ocean. Druffel was born in Los Angeles, CA and grew up in Pasadena. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a B.S. in chemistry and from University of California San Diego in 1980 with a Ph.D. in chemistry. Druffel was a Scientist in the Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for 12 years, and Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at University of California Irvine since 1993. She co-directs the Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry group at UCI. Druffel has been president of the Oceanography Section of the AGU, is a fellow of the AGU, The Oceanography Society and AAAS, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Ellen Druffel's research group investigates why the 14C age of marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is thousands of years old, despite evidence that most of it is produced in the surface ocean during photosynthesis. She and her colleagues have improved understanding of ocean organic matter through the recognition that dissolved and particulate matter consist of many distinct, differently aged components. One of the most ancient components is black carbon that is present in the ocean in small but significant amounts, and contributes to the old age of DOC. Druffel and colleagues also use 14C and oxygen isotope records in corals as recorders of past change in ocean ventilation and mixing. Data from global coral archives provide unique, continuous records of tropical ocean circulation and reveal temporal variations in climate over the past millennium, such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. These records also record patterns of uptake of bomb-produced 14C in the surface oceans, and constrain estimates of ocean-atmosphere exchange of CO2 used in global climate models.

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Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 16: Geophysics