Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Steve Running

Is terrestrial net primary production a planetary boundary?

Abstract: In 2012 I wrote a paper postulating that the biosphere might have a rather fixed capacity for terrestrial NPP. This idea was based on our 35+ year time series of satellite derived estimates of annual global NPP. Further, we estimated that only about 10% of global NPP was still available for new exploitation, particularly for food and/or bioenergy resources. This seminar will first evaluate whether my postulate is still holding up. Of greater practical interest may be what are the policy ramifications for humanity if NPP is in fact a planetary boundary. 

Bio: Steven W. Running received his Ph.D. in Forest Ecology from Colorado State University, and has been with the University of Montana, Missoula since 1979, where he is a University Regents Professor of Global Ecology.  His primary research interest is the development of global and regional ecosystem biogeochemical models integrating remote sensing with bioclimatology and terrestrial ecology.  He is the Land Team Leader for the NASA Earth Observing System, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, and is responsible for the EOS global terrestrial net primary production and evapotranspiration datasets. He has published more than 280 scientific articles and two books. He was a co-Lead Chapter Author for the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment. He currently Chairs the NASA Earth Science Subcommittee, and is a member of the NASA Science Advisory Council.  Dr. Running was a chapter Lead Author for the 4th Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Dr. Running is an elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, has been  designated a Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information, and in 2014 was designated one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in Geosciences. In the popular press, his essay in 2007, “The 5 Stages of Climate Grief” has been widely quoted. 


Friday, April 29, 2016
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm





  • CIRES employees
  • CIRES families
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • DLS
  • Open to Public



CIRES Auditorium