Inez Fung


Image of Inez Fung


  • Sc.D. Meteorology Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977
  • S.B. Applied Mathematics Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1971


Research Interests

Climate change biogeochemical cycles

Research Description

The climate of the Earth is intimately tied to the composition of the atmosphere and the dynamics of the underlying surface. The atmosphere and land surface exchange energy, water and other trace substances on all space and time scales. The exchange is dependent on, and in turn, determines the states of the atmosphere and biosphere themselves. My research in the past decade has focused on the many aspects of biosphere-atmosphere interaction, with the goal of gaining predictive capability of how atmospheric composition may evolve in the future.The present and past variations in atmospheric composition contain information about how sensitive the atmosphere and biosphere, separately and together, are to natural climate fluctuations. This sets the stage for detecting and evaluating the extent the system have been and will be altered by human action.

Current Projects

A principal research activity is the cycle of carbon dioxide. The current atmospheric CO2 increase is only half the carbon emission from fossil fuel combustion. Where is the missing carbon? We use details of the atmospheric CO2 distribution (e.g. the difference in hemispheric loading, the changes in the seasonal amplitude over time) together with atmospheric transport models to deduce the location of the carbon sink. We hypothesized that the terrestrial biosphere of the northern hemisphere may be as important as the oceans as a repository for anthropogenic CO2. By combining satellite observations of the biosphere, observations of the year-to-year variations in the atmosphere and biosphere, and in-situ process studies, we identify the sensitive ecosystems and the processes responsible for the carbon sequestration.

Another research focus is the dust cycle. Fine dust particles lofted from arid surfaces are transported long distances. While airborne, they reflect sunlight, but may, depending on their sizes and composition, absorb terrestrial radiation. When deposited to the surface oceans, the iron in the dust may be the critical limiting micronutrient for marine productivity in some ocean regions. To tackle this problem, we are combining mineralogic information about soil particles, satellite and in-situ observations, atmospheric circulation models and ocean biology models to gain an appreciation of the many roles of dust. Our finding that about half the atmospheric dust loading may be from recent disturbances (e.g. cultivation, Sahel-Sahara boundary shifts) leads to new questions about how land clearing may have consequences on marine productivity and the abundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Selected Publications

Gurney, K. R., R. M. Law, A.S. Denning, P.J. Rayner, D. Baker, P. Bousquet, L. Bruhwiler, Y.H. Chen, P. Ciais, S.M. Fan, I. Y. Fung, M. Gloor et al. (2003). "TransCom 3 CO2 inversion intercomparison: 1. Annual mean control results and sensitivity to transport and prior flux information." Tellus Series B-Chemical & Physical Meteorology 55(2): 555-579.

Dargaville, R. J., S. C. Doney, et al. (2003). "Inter-annual variability in the interhemispheric atmospheric CO2 gradient: contributions from transport and the seasonal rectifier." Tellus Series B-Chemical & Physical Meteorology 55(2): 711-722.

Fung, I. Modeling Carbon-Climate Interactions. in Present and Future of Modeling Global Environmental Change: Toward Integrated Modeling. T. Matsuno and H. Kida (eds.) Terra Scientific Publishing Co. 2003. 2002 Dickinson, R. E., Berry, J. A., Bonan, G. B., Collatz, G. J., Field, C. B., Fung, I. Y., Goulden, M., Hoffmann, W. A., Jackson, R. B., Myneni, R., Sellers, P. J., and Shaikh, M. (2002): Nitrogen controls on climate model evapotranspiration: Journal of Climate, v. 15, p. 278-295.

Moore, J. K., Doney, S. C., Glover, D. M., and Fung, I. Y., (2002a): Iron cycling and nutrient-limitation patterns in surface waters of the World Ocean: Deep-Sea Research Part II-Topical Studies in Oceanography, v. 49, p. 463-507.

Moore, J. K., Doney, S. C., Kleypas, J. A., Glover, D. M., and Fung, I. Y. (2002b): An intermediate complexity marine ecosystem model for the global domain: Deep-Sea Research Part II-Topical Studies in Oceanography, v. 49, p. 403-462.

Gurney, K. R., Law, R. M., Denning, A. S., Rayner, P. J., Baker, D., Bousquet, P., Bruhwiler, L., Chen, Y. H., Ciais, P., Fan, S., Fung, I. Y., Gloor, M., Heimann, M., Higuchi, K., John, J., Maki, T., Maksyutov, S., Masarie, K., Peylin, P., Prather, M., Pak, B. C., Randerson, J., Sarmiento, J., Taguchi, S., Takahashi, T., and Yuen, C. W. (2002): Towards robust regional estimates of CO2 sources and sinks using atmospheric transport models: Nature, v. 415, p. 626-630.

Fung, I. Carbon Cycle. in Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, Third Edition, Volume 2, pp. 417-429. Academic Press, 2002.

Randerson, J. T., C. J. Still, J. Balle, I.Y. Fung, S.C. Doney, P.P. Tans, T.Conway, J.W.C. White, B. Vaughn, N. Suits, A.S. Denning (2002). "Carbon isotope discrimination of arctic and boreal biomes inferred from remote atmospheric measurements and a biosphere-atmosphere model - art. no. 1028." Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16(3): 1028.

Randerson, J. T., G. J. Collatz, J.E. Fessenden, A.D. Munoz, C.J. Still, J.A. Berry, I.Y. Fung, , N. Suits and A.S. Denning (2002). "A possible global covariance between terrestrial gross primary production and C-13 discrimination: Consequences for the atmospheric C-13 budget and its response to ENSO - art. no. 1136." Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16(4): 1136.

Randerson, J. T., I. G. Enting, E.A.G. Schuur, K. Caldeira, and I.Y. Fung (2002). "Seasonal and latitudinal variability of troposphere Delta(CO2)-C-14: Post bomb contributions from fossil fuels, oceans, the stratosphere, and the terrestrial biosphere - art. no. 1112." Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16(4): 1112.

Blackmon, M., Boville, B., Bryan, F., Dickinson, R., Gent, P., Kiehl, J., Moritz, R., Randall, D., Shukla, J., Solomon, S., Bonan, G., Doney, S., Fung, I., Hack, J., Hunke, E., Hurrell, J., Kutzbach, J., Meehl, J., Otto-Bliesner, B., Saravanan, R., Schneider, E. K., Sloan, L., Spall, M., Taylor, K., Tribbia, J., and Washington, W. (2001): The Community Climate System Model: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, v. 82, p. 2357-2376.

Cicerone, R., E. Barron, R. Dickinson, I. Fung, J. Hansen, T. Karl, R. Lindzen, J. McWilliams, S. Rowland, E. Sarachik, and J.M. Wallace. Climate Change Science: Analysis of Some Key Questions. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

Fung, I. Atmospheric CO2 Variations: Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Earth System Forcings. in Geosphere-Biosphere Interactions and Climate. Lennart O., Bengtsson and Claus U. Hammer (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Collatz G.J., Bounoua L., Los S.O., Randall D.A., Fung I.Y., Sellers P.J. (2000): A Mechanism for the Influence of Vegetation on the Response of the Diurnal Temperature Range to a Changing Climate. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 14, 281-296.

Fung I., S. Meyn, I. Tegen, S.C. Doney, J. John and J.K.B. Bishop (2000): Iron supply and demand in the upper ocean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 14, 281-296.

Fung, I. (2000): Atmospheric CO2 variations: Response to natural and anthropogenic Earth System forcings. in “Geosphere-Biosphere Interactions and Climate”, L. Bengtsson (editor), Cambridge University Press (in press).

Honors and Awards

  • NCAR Community Climate System Model Distinguished Achievement Award - National Center for Atmospheric Research - 2007
  • 2006 Award for the Environment - World Technology Network - 2006
  • Scientific American 50 - Scientific American - 2005
  • Roger Revelle Medal - American Geophysical Union - 2004
  • Henry W. Kendall Memorial Lecturer in Global Change Science - MIT - 2002
  • Elected Member - National Academy of Sciences - 2001
  • Fellow - American Geophysical Union - 1996
  • Fellow - American Meteorology Society - 1994
  • Goddard Senior Fellow - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 1992-1997 - 1992
  • Distinguished Authorship Award - NOAA - 1991
  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal - NASA - 1989
  • C.G. Rossby award for the outstanding thesis of the year - Department of Meteorology, MIT - 1977

Recent Teaching



Contact Information


Office: 335 Hilgard Hall

Office Phone: 510-643-9367

Lab Phone: 510-643-9367

Fax: 510-643-9980


Office Hours

By Appointment

Mailing Address

399 McCone Hall MC 4767
Berkeley, California 94720-4767