• Aquatic Isotope biogeochemistry

    Chemical Oceanography

    Land-River-Ocean aquatic continuum

    Soil and Fluvial Biogeochemistry


  • Opportunities at ETH

    1. PhD student starting at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland (as main supervisor, co-supervised by Dr. Timothy Eglinton) apply here: https://jobs.ethz.ch/job/view/JOPG_ethz_BHY4mf3zN4FAITCpP2 


    2. Master projects always available- contact via email alysha.coppola@geo.uzh.ch


    About me

    I am currently on maternity leave but starting as a assistant scientist at ETH in Zurich Switzerland in summer 2020.


    I am an oceanographer and Earth system scientist with research interest in the carbon cycle, water quality, and climate change. My research interests involves understanding the losses and transformations of black carbon (char and soot) by rivers and in the ocean. I come from a multi-disciplinary background, with a fundamental scientific understanding of the Earth as a coupled system and a focus on oceanography.


    I defended my PhD in Earth System Science in 2015 from the University of California Irvine. Ellen R.M. Druffel was my PhD and Masters advisor. I have a masters in Earth System Sciences, and a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona. I did my post-doctoral research through a FK fellowship in Michael W.I. Schmidt's Soil Science and Biogeochemistry Group. Life is good!

    The Grand Challenges of Biogeoscience

    Now more than ever, the questions that earth system scientists priorities over the upcoming decades will define our contributions to the problems we face with climate change. With a changing carbon cycle driven by increased CO2 concentrations, one of the grand challenges of Biogeoscience is that we understand how carbon moves between land, soils, rivers and into ocean environments to constrain which biospheres can absorb or sequester those anthropogenic emissions.


    This requires a holistic view of the carbon cycle, often termed the “boundless C cycle”. My current broad, overarching research vision is to improve our understanding of river-to-ocean carbon continuum as moderator of atmospheric CO2 to include in coupled climate-carbon Earth System models. Erosion of organic matter from soils by rivers can release carbon into the atmosphere if it is degraded during river transport. Over long timescales, C which escapes degradation can contribute to CO2 sequestration. In order to understand the C cycle and how it will change, we need to understand the slowest cycling pool of C, namely, fire-derived black C (BC, charcoal/soot). Up to 27% of this burned C is retained as BC- rather than emitted as greenhouse gases. However, BC is not considered in the global C budget warming simulations because the role of BC in the global C cycle is not well understood. This is due to a lack of robust knowledge on fluxes, stocks in different reservoirs and residence times in the environment.


    As an earth scientist trained in oceanography, my research seeks to understand the largest reservoir of marine organic carbon (dissolved organic carbon) by employing field work, novel isotopic and compound specific (14C, 13C) methods to identify and understand the main processes of carbon cycling dynamics in the ocean and land-river-ocean aquatic interface. I focus on global measurements of black carbon in bulk organic carbon pools using compound specific radiocarbon (14C) analysis in the open ocean water column (Coppola et al., 2013), in the global ocean (Coppola and Druffel, 2016) and at regional scales in the Mackenzie River and Amazon River. My goal is to link terrestrial and marine cycles on basin scale wide processes.


    I am currently a Post-doctoral scholar at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, working in Michael M.I. Schmidt's Soil Science and Biogeochemistry Group to address these major questions.

    Latest News!

    June 2020: our Nature Communications paper on global river BC export is accepted- read it here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16576-z !


    April 2020: EGU Union Session was a success! Missed it? Check it out here:



    Jan 2020: Check out our Union Session at EGU - we organized an interdisciplinary union session on fires - we have a great lineup of cutting-edge speakers in store for you! https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2020/session/34692


    Dec 2019: Keynote talk at AGU in the Biogeoscience section- Session B092 Pyrogenic Organic Matter: Production, Characterization and Cycling


    Aug 2019: Yahoo! My SNSF Ambitizone project was funded- Fire and Water: Reconciling the black carbon conundrum at the river-to- ocean interface! Keep posted for PhD student positions at ETH starting Sept 2020!


    25 June 2019: Our Nature Communications paper is accepted! Yahoo!


    17 May 2019: Bastian defends his Masters and gets a perfect 6.0 score! Well done Bastian!


    16 April 2019: Daily Bucket Druffel Lab Newsletter is released in honor of Dr. Brett Walker!


    20 Feb 2019: Our invited paper "Influence of Fire on the Carbon Cycle and Climate" to Current Climate Change Reports was accepted!

     https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40641-019-00128-9 Here is the PDF:



    April 7-12 2019 : Join us at EGU Vienna for our session Fire, Carbon Climate and Humans Across Space and Time! BG 1.57/ AS4.45/ NH 1.38


    Aug 8, 2018: Scientific American covered our GRL paper! What an honour!


    July 9, 2018: Nature Geoscience paper is published!


    June 5, 2018: Our GRL paper with IBM is published online


    May 24, 2018: Our Nature Geoscience paper on global rivers is accepted! Yahoo!


    April 26, 2018: Our GRL paper using atomic force microscopy through a collaboration I initiated with IBM Zurich was accepted!


    April 8-13, 2018: Our session I was a co-convener for at EGU "Interactions between Fire, the Earth System and humans across time and space" was a great success!


  • Publications

    Available on Google scholar , Research gate, or by request

    Matthew W. Jones, Alysha I. Coppola, Cristina Santín, Thorsten Dittmar, Rudolf Jaffé, Stefan H. Doerr & Timothy A. Quine

    Nature Communications (2020)

    Black carbon (BC) is a recalcitrant form of organic carbon (OC) produced by landscape fires. BC is an important component of the global carbon cycle because, compared to unburned biogenic OC, it is selectively conserved in terrestrial and oceanic pools. Here we show that the dissolved BC (DBC) content of dissolved OC (DOC) is twice greater in major (sub)tropical and high-latitude rivers than in major temperate rivers, with further significant differences between biomes. We estimate that rivers export 18 ± 4 Tg DBC year−1 globally and that, including particulate BC fluxes, total riverine export amounts to 43 ± 15 Tg BC year−1 (12 ± 5% of the OC flux). While rivers export ~1% of the OC sequestered by terrestrial vegetation, our estimates suggest that 34 ± 26% of the BC produced by landscape fires has an oceanic fate. Biogeochemical models require modification to account for the unique dynamics of BC and to predict the response of recalcitrant OC export to changing environmental conditions.

    Coppola, A.I., M.Seidel, N. Ward, D. Viviroli, G. Nascimento, N. Haghipour, S. Abiven, M. Jones, J. Richey, T. Eglinton, T. Dittmar, M.W.I. Schmidt

    Nature Communications

    Riverine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) contains charcoal byproducts, termed black carbon (BC). To determine the significance of BC as a sink of atmospheric CO2 and reconcile budgets, the sources and fate of this large, slow-cycling and elusive carbon pool must be constrained. The Amazon River is a significant part of global BC cycling because it exports an order of magnitude more DOC, and thus dissolved BC (DBC), than any other river. We report spatially resolved DBC quantity and radiocarbon (Δ14C) measurements, paired with molecular-level characterization of dissolved organic matter from the Amazon River and tributaries during low discharge. The proportion of BC-like polycyclic aromatic structures decreases downstream, but marked spatial variability in abundance and Δ14C values of DBC molecular markers imply dynamic sources and cycling in a manner that is incongruent with bulk DOC. We estimate a flux from the Amazon River of 1.9–2.7 Tg DBC yr−1 that is composed of predominately young DBC, suggesting that loss processes of modern DBC are important.

    Gitta Lasslop, Alysha I. Coppola, Apostolos Voulgarakis, Chao Yue, Sander Veraverbeke

    Pdf available here: Springer Current Climate Change Reports


    Purpose of Review: Understanding of how fire affects the carbon cycle and climate is crucial for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. As those are often based on Earth system model simulations, we identify recent progress and research needs that can improve the model representation of fire and its impacts.

    Recent Findings: New constraints of fire effects on the carbon cycle and climate are provided by the quantification of the carbon ages and effects of vegetation types and traits. For global scale modelling the low understanding of the human-fire relationship is limiting.

    Summary: ReviewRecent developments allow improvements in Earth system models with respect to the influences of vegetation on climate, peatland burning and the pyrogenic carbon cycle. Better understanding of human influences is required.

    Given the impacts of fire on carbon storage and climate, thorough understanding of the effects of fire in the Earth system is crucial to support climate change mitigation and adaptation.

    Wildfires and incomplete combustion of fossil fuel produce large amounts of black carbon. Black carbon production and transport are essential components of the carbon cycle. Constraining estimates of black carbon exported from land to ocean is critical, given ongoing changes in land use and climate, which affect fire occurrence and black carbon dynamics. Here, we present an inventory of the concentration and radiocarbon content (∆14C) of particulate black carbon for 18 rivers around the globe. We find that particulate black carbon accounts for about 15.8 ± 0.9% of river particulate organic carbon, and that fluxes of particulate black carbon co-vary with river-suspended sediment, indicating that particulate black carbon export is primarily controlled by erosion. River particulate black carbon is not exclusively from modern sources but is also aged in intermediate terrestrial carbon pools in several high-latitude rivers, with ages of up to 17,000 14C years. The flux-weighted 14C average age of particulate black carbon exported to oceans is 3,700 ± 400 14C years. We estimate that the annual global flux of particulate black carbon to the ocean is 0.017 to 0.037 Pg, accounting for 4 to 32% of the annually produced black carbon. When buried in marine sediments, particulate black carbon is sequestered to form a long-term sink for CO2.

    Shadi Fatayer, Alysha I. Coppola, Fabian Schulz, Brett D. Walker, Taylor A. Broek, Gerhard Meyer, Ellen R. M. Druffel, Matthew McCarthy and Leo Gross Geophysical Research letters

    Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is the largest pool of exchangeable organic carbon in the ocean. However, less than 10% of DOC has been molecularly characterised in the deep ocean to understand DOC’s recalcitrance. Here, we analyze the radiocarbon (14C) depleted, and presumably refractory, low molecular weight (LMW) DOC extracted from the North Central Pacific using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to produce the first atomic-resolution images of individual LMW DOC molecules. We evaluate surface and deep LMW DOC chemical structures in the context of its relative persistence and recalcitrance. AFM resolved planar structures with features similar to polycyclic aromatic compounds and carboxylic-rich alicyclic structures with less than five aromatic carbon rings. These compounds comprise 8% and 20% of the measurable molecules investigated in the surface and deep, respectively. Resolving the structures of individual DOC molecules represents a step forward in molecular characterisation of DOC and in understanding its long-term stability.

    Ulrich M Hanke, Christopher M Reddy, Ana LL Braun, Alysha I Coppola, Negar Haghipour, Cameron P McIntyre, Lukas Wacker, Li Xu, Ann P McNichol, Samuel Abiven, Michael WI Schmidt, Timothy I Eglinton Envi. Sci Technology ACS  (2017)

    Humans have interacted with fire for thousands of years, yet the utilization of fossil fuels marked the beginning of a new era. Ubiquitous in the environment, pyrogenic carbon (PyC) arises from incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels, forming a continuum of condensed aromatic structures. Here, we develop and evaluate 14C records for two complementary PyC molecular markers, benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), preserved in aquatic sediments from a suburban and a remote catchment in the United States (U.S.) from the mid-1700s to 1998. Results show that the majority of PyC stems from local sources and is transferred to aquatic sedimentary archives on subdecadal to millennial time scales. Whereas a small portion stems from near-contemporaneous production and sedimentation, the majority of PyC (∼90%) experiences delayed transmission due to “preaging” on millennial time scales in catchment soils prior to its ultimate deposition. BPCAs (soot) and PAHs (precursors of soot) trace fossil fuel-derived PyC. Both markers parallel historical records of the consumption of fossil fuels in the U.S., yet never account for more than 19% total PyC. This study demonstrates that isotopic characterization of multiple tracers is necessary to constrain histories and inventories of PyC and that sequestration of PyC can markedly lag its production.

    Fassbender et al., (2017) Marine Chemistry

    The questions that chemical oceanographers prioritize over the coming decades, and the methods we use to address these questions, will define our field's contribution to 21st century science. In recognition of this, the U.S. National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration galvanized a community effort (the Chemical Oceanography MEeting: A BOttom-up Approach to Research Directions, or COME ABOARD) to synthesize bottom-up perspectives on selected areas of research in Chemical Oceanography. Representing only a small subset of the community, COME ABOARD participants did not attempt to identify targeted research directions for the field. Instead, we focused on how best to foster diverse research in Chemical Oceanography, placing emphasis on the following themes: strengthening our core chemical skillset; expanding our tools through collaboration with chemists, engineers, and computer scientists; considering new roles for large programs; enhancing interface research through interdisciplinary collaboration; and expanding ocean literacy by engaging with the public. For each theme, COME ABOARD participants reflected on the present state of Chemical Oceanography, where the community hopes to go and why, and actionable pathways to get there.

    Ellen R.M. Druffel, Sheila Griffin, Alysha I. Coppola, Brett D. Walker (2016) Geophysical Research Letters

    Marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is produced in the surface ocean though its radiocarbon (14C) age in the deep ocean is thousands of years old. Here we show that ≥10% of the DOC in the deep North Atlantic is of postbomb origin and that the 14C age of the prebomb DOC is ≥4900 14C year, ~900 14C year older than previous estimates. We report 14C ages of DOC in the deep South Atlantic that are intermediate between values in the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. Finally, we conclude that prebomb DOC 14C ages are older and a portion of deep DOC is more dynamic than previously reported.

    Alysha I. Coppola and Ellen R.M. Druffel (2016) Geophysical Research Letters

    Black carbon (BC) is a by‐product of combustion from wildfires and fossil fuels and is a slow‐cycling component of the carbon cycle. Whether BC accumulates and ages on millennial time scales in the world oceans has remained unknown. Here we quantified dissolved BC (DBC) in marine dissolved organic carbon isolated by solid phase extraction at several sites in the world ocean. We find that DBC in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans ranges from 1.4 to 2.6 μM in the surface and is 1.2 ± 0.1 μM in the deep Atlantic. The average 14C age of surface DBC is 4800 ± 620 14C years and much older in a deep water sample (23,000 ± 3000 14C years). The range of DBC structures and 14C ages indicates that DBC is not homogeneous in the ocean. We show that there are at least two distinct pools of marine DBC, a younger pool that cycles on centennial time scales and an ancient pool that cycles on >105 year time scales.

    Alysha I. Coppola, Brett D. Walker and Ellen R.M. Druffel (2015) Marine Chemistry

    Radiocarbon analysis is a powerful tool for understanding the cycling of individual components within carbon pools, such as black carbon (BC) in dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Radiocarbon (Δ14C) measurements of BC in DOC provide insight into one source of aged, recalcitrant DOC. We report a modified solid phase extraction (SPE) method to concentrate 43 ± 6% of DOC (SPE-DOC) from seawater. We used the Benzene Polycarboxylic Acid (BPCA) method to isolate BC from SPE-DOC (SPE-BC) for subsequent 14C analysis. We report SPE-BC Δ14C values, SPE-BC concentrations, and the relative BPCA distributions from Milli-Q water process blanks, two riverine reference standards, as well as a coastal and an open ocean surface water sample. The composition of BC is less aromatic in the ocean samples than those in the river standards. We find higher BC Δ14C values in the river standards (+ 148 to − 462‰) than BC in the ocean samples (− 592 to − 712‰), suggesting that BC ages within oceanic DOC. We report that BC is 4.2 ± 1.0% of SPE-DOC in the open ocean surface sample, or 1.4 ± 0.1 μM C. This work provides the methodological basis by which global BC concentrations, compositions (e.g. relative abundances of BPCA marker compounds) and ∆14C values can be assessed.

    Alysha I Coppola, Lori A Ziolkowski, Caroline A Masiello, Ellen RM Druffel (2014) Geophysical Research Letters

    We report measurements of oceanic black carbon (BC) to determine the sources of BC to abyssal marine sediments in the northeast Pacific Ocean. We find that the average 14C age of BC is older (by 6200 ± 2200 14C years) than that of the concurrently deposited non‐BC sedimentary organic carbon. We investigate sources of aged BC to sediments by measuring a sample of sinking particulate organic carbon (POC) and find that POC may provide the main transport mechanism of BC to sediments. We suggest that aged BC is incorporated into POC from a combination of resuspended sediments and sorption of ancient dissolved organic carbon BC onto POC. Our BC flux estimate represents ~8–16% of the global burial flux of organic carbon to abyssal sediments and constitutes a minimum long‐term removal estimate of 6–32% of biomass‐derived BC using the present day emission flux.

    Alysha I Coppola, Lori A Ziolkowski, and Ellen RM Druffel (2013) Radiocarbon

    Extraneous carbon (Cex) added during chemical processing and isolation of black carbon (BC) in environmental matrices was quantified to assess its impact on compound specific radiocarbon analysis (CSRA). Extraneous carbon is added during the multiple steps of BC extraction, such as incomplete removal of solvents, and carbon bleed from the gas chromatographic and cation columns. We use 2 methods to evaluate the size and Δ14C values of Cex in BC in ocean sediments that require additional pretreatment using a cation column with the benzene polycarboxylic acid (BPCA) method. First, the direct method evaluates the size and Δ14C value of Cex directly from the process blank, generated by processing initially empty vials through the entire method identically to the treatment of a sample. Second, the indirect method quantifies Cex as the difference between processed and unprocessed (bulk) Δ14C values in a variety of modern and 14C-free or “dead” BC standards. Considering a suite of hypothetical marine sedimentary samples of various sizes and Δ14C values and BC Ring Trial standards, we compare both methods of corrections and find agreement between samples that are >50 μg C. Because Cex can profoundly influence the measured Δ14C value of compound specific samples, we strongly advocate the use of multiple types of process standards that match the sample size to assess Cex and investigate corrections throughout extensive sample processing.

    We report results of duplicate measurements of dissolved organic carbon concentrations ([DOC] as μM) and Δ14C in seawater in order to assess the total uncertainty of reported [DOC] and Δ14C measurements via the UV oxidation method. In addition, pure International Atomic Energy Agency standards analyzed over a 4-yr period are evaluated. We find the total uncertainty of Δ14C measurements to be ±4.0. However, in samples that were thawed, subsampled, and refrozen prior to UV oxidation, the total uncertainty of Δ14C measurements is on the order of ±10. The [DOC] measurements of these samples were also higher by 1.8 ± 0.3 μM. The reason(s) for these documented increases in total [DOC] and Δ14C uncertainty are unclear. In order to minimize any effects on sample measurements, we recommend the following: 1) regular monitoring of duplicate samples, DOC standards, and diluent (Milli-Q™) water for Δ14C and [DOC] measurements; 2) thawing a sample immediately and only once prior to UV oxidation; 3) avoid the use of DOC-leachable plumbing (such as PVC pipe) in both water systems feeding and within Milli-Q systems; and 4) consider the use of DOC-free diluents (i.e. pre-UV oxidized Milli-Q or sample water).

  • Download CV

    It's never done but get a copy of the latest CV!

  • Latest In-Prep Projects

    It's never done- but here's a glimpse of what's in the pipeline!

    Central Pacific Dissolved Organic Carbon

    Black carbon cycling in low molecular weight refractory dissolved organic carbon

    We paired up with ETH, IBM Zurich, University of California Irvine and University of California Santa Cruz to discover the cycling of refractory dissolved organic carbon using radiocarbon.

    Amazon River

    The dynamic cycling of black carbon in dissolved organic carbon in the Amazon River

    Field work Nov 2019 with Jeff Richey and Nick Ward!

    Mackenzie River

    (funded through Forschungskredit UZH fellowship)

    The Mackenzie River suspended export of black carbon through spatial and temporal scales

    Process-driven assessments of the amount, 14C age (Δ14C value) and structure of BC during transfers by river are necessary to quantify losses and transformations. This Forschungskredit funded project at the University of Zurich is based on constraining the magnitude and dynamics of river BC release to the aquatic environment in the highly climate-sensitive Arctic. Studying the river biogeochemistry of the Mackenzie River in the Arctic in the context of a time series is of vital importance given on-going and dramatic changes in hydrologic regimes, fire frequency, and severity of permafrost mobilization and coastal erosion processes. In this work, we are developing a time series of river suspended BC 14C through collaborations with ETH Zurich (Tim Eglinton and Melissa Schwab) and WHOI (Valier Galy). I am finding that the black carbon exported within river particulate organic carbon is large, yet variable each year and for each tributary.


    Started Jan 2018- finishing May 2019!

    Masters student: Bastian Burman (defense date May 2019) Bastian studies the physico-chemical properties of sediments collected along the Mackenzie River. He is studying their reactivity in term of surface, carbon content and characteristics, and their content in black carbon.


    Field work June 2018 and 2019 with Robert Hilton and Melissa Schwab (chief scientist)


    collaborators:Tim Eglinton, Melissa Schwab (ETH), Valier Valy (WHOI), Samuel Abiven (UZH), Philippa Ascough (Glasgow), Robert Hilton (Durham), Modeling- Pierre Regnier and Sandra Arndt (Brussels)

  • Teaching and Supervision

    Through teaching, I encourage concept oriented problem solving that allows students to construct arguments based on data and to appreciate how scientific issues affect their lives. My goal as a teacher is to stimulate interest in the ocean, concern for the environment and scientific inquiry, long after their formal education has completed.

    Introduction to Oceanography

    Earth System Science 3, University of California Irvine, professor, Bachelors level (50 students)

    Global Carbon Cycle-Reduced

    ETH Zurich, Masters level, (co-taught, 30 students)

    Soil Science II

    co-taught, University of Zurich, MS level (20 students)

    Hydrological Drought

    University of Zurich, Bachelors level, (6 students)

    Intro to Earth System Science

    Earth System Science 3, University of California Irvine, teaching assistant (400 students)


    Department of Earth System Science 25, University of California Irvine, teaching assistant (60 students)

    Radiocarbon short course

    Specialized radiocarbon short course at University of California Irvine- guest lectures and teaching labs through several years of involvement with the Radiocarbon in Ecology and Earth System Science short course led by Susan Trumbore and Ted Schuur

    Climate Change

    Department of Earth System Science 35, University of California Irvine, teaching assistant (200 students)

    Measurement of Uncertainty

    University of Zurich, Bachelors level, (6 students)

  • Transmitting Scientific Knowledge

    It's important to share our research with the public. Here's the latest dissemination of Research-Outreach and science communication of results

    EGU 2020

    Union Symposium on Fire

    The role and impact of fire in the Earth system across spatial and temporal scales

    This Union Symposium is 1 of 5 interactive webinars discuss overarching and interdisciplinary topics of EGU-wide interest.

    Black mystery in the Amazon River

    Black carbon produced by the burning of fuels and biomass is the most stable carbon compound in nature, yet its path from land to the deep ocean remains mysterious. An international research team under the lead of the Department of Geography characterized the black carbon exported by the Amazon River.

    Feature in Microscopy and Analysis Journal

    Short article about our work featured pg.8 -9 in the Microscopy and Analysis Wiley journal

    Our work with IBM was featured in July's issue


    First “Photos” of Ocean Carbon Molecules  Scientific American 

    by Chris Dixon Aug 8, 2018

    The remains of tiny phytoplankton hold more carbon than all plants and animals. Will it be released?

    Read more about the press coverage from our inter-disciplinary GRL paper here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/first-photos-of-ocean-carbon-molecules-hold-clues-to-future-warming/

    News and Views Nature Geoscience by Lars J. Tranvik

    Much of the carbon in rivers originates from wildfires and is ultimately buried in the oceanic carbon sink, suggest measurements from 18 rivers globally. Rivers transport almost a gigaton of carbon to the oceans every year.


    Full PDF here

    Charcoal: Major missing piece in the global carbon cycle

    Press release for our Nature Geoscience paper! by Kurt Bodenmueller

    Most of the carbon resulting from wildfires and fossil fuel combustion is rapidly released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now shown that the leftover residue, so-called black carbon, can age for millennia on land and in rivers en route to the ocean, and thus constitutes a major long-term reservoir of organic carbon. The study adds a major missing piece to the puzzle of understanding the global carbon cycle. Due to its widespread occurrence and tendency to linger in the environment, black carbon may be one of the keys in predicting and mitigating global climate change. In wildfires, typically one third of the burned organic carbon is retained as black carbon residues rather than emitted as greenhouse gases. Initially, black carbon remains stored in the soil and in lakes, and is then eroded from river banks and transported to the ocean. However, black carbon is not taken into account in global carbon budget warming simulations, because its role in the global carbon cycle is not well understood as a result of a lack of knowledge about fluxes, stocks, and residence times in the environment.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-07-charcoal-major-piece-global-carbon.html#jCp

    Phys.org blog on recent findings

    Ocean carbon imaged on the atomic scale

    by Leo Gross and Alysha Coppola

    Dissolved Ocean Carbon (DOC) in the ocean is one of the largest pools of reduced carbon on Earth. It's about 200 times larger than the living biosphere and comparable in size to the atmospheric CO2 reservoir. Due to its complexity, less than 10 percent of dissolved organic carbon has been characterized. It's important to understand what this carbon pool is, so we can predict how this pool of carbon will respond to increasing temperatures from climate change. Scientists from IBM Zurich paired up with chemical oceanographers from the University of Zurich, University of California Irvine and University of California Santa Cruz to image the molecules present in oceanic dissolved organic carbon. This method allows marine scientists to look at the structure of individual molecules in deep ocean basins to gain a better understanding of the ocean carbon cycle. Our research appears today in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters.
    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-06-ocean-carbon-imaged-atomic-scale.html#jCp

    Dissemination of research using infographics

    I try to summarise my key findings to disseminate to research platforms (researchgate, twitter, linkedIn) highlighting the main messages of our work

    PANGAEA Earth Science database

    Data publisher for Earth System Science

    I deposit data from my papers on this Earth Science database. You can download data from my research here. The World Data Center PANGAEA is member of the ICSU World Data System.

    UCI sleuths search the seas for soot

    by Brian Bell

    Our 2015 GRL paper was covered by AGU in a press release

    Little black carbon reaches ocean floor, study finds

    National Science Foundation by Jayd Boyd

    Just a fraction of the carbon that finds its way into Earth's oceans--the black soot and charcoal residue of fires--stays there for thousands of years. A first-of-its-kind analysis by UC Irvine, Rice University and the University of Southern California also revealed how some black carbon breaks away and hitches a ride to the ocean floor on passing particles.

    Study: Black carbon is ancient by the time it reaches seafloor

    by Jade Boyd

    The press release for our 2013 GRL paper. National Science Foundation by Jayd Boyd

    CLEAN Education

    Climate, Literacy, Empowerment And iNquiry

    In 2008, ESS graduate students founded CLEAN with the goal of teaching the science behind the effects of climate change in a positive and empowering way. CLEAN Education presenters visit local classrooms leading hands-on, grade-appropriate lessons about water, the carbon cycle, endangered species, and greenhouse gases. Their goal is to equip future generations with the knowledge to understand and deal with a changing climate. Since they started, forty CLEAN Education presenters have given more than one hundred presentations.

    NOAA blog cruise

    The Druffel Lab Daily Bucket Newsletter Volume 7

    In honor of Dr. Brett Walker and Jenny Lehman for their new fancy positions at the University of Ottawa! And because science is fun, and we meet/work with good people along the way!

  • Contact information

    Phone is fastest, email is most precise, and twitter is a long shot!

    Twitter- Alysha_Coppola


    Office phone:

    +41  44 63 55228

    (swiss time zone)


    Soil Science and Biogeochemistry

    Department of Geography

    University of Zurich - Irchel

    Winterthurerstr. 190

    CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

    Google Scholar

    Research Gate


    Orcid ID: 0000-0002-9928-2786