Research Staff

Richard A. Houghton, Ph.D.

Acting President, Senior Scientist, George M. Woodwell Chair for Global Ecology
Woods Hole Research Center
149 Woods Hole Road
Falmouth, MA 02540-1644
Phone:
508-444-1516
Fax:
508-444-1816
Email:

Dr. Houghton is an ecologist with interests in the role that terrestrial ecosystems play in climate change and the global carbon cycle. He coordinates WHRC efforts to understand the problems of global warming and climate change, especially the role biotic systems play in this accelerating process. Dr. Houghton has held positions as Assistant Scientist at the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory and as Research Associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Dr. Houghton served as WHRC Acting Director from December of 2008 through June of 2011, and he was named Acting President of WHRC in 2013. He has held the George M. Woodwell Chair for Global Ecology since 2011. Along with other lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, Dr. Houghton was a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012, he was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He earned his doctorate in ecology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1995 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Forest Science, University of Munich.

Education

Ph.D. - State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1979

B.A. - Hamilton College, 1965

Professional Experience

  • July, 2013 - Present: Acting President, Senior Scientist
  • June, 2011 - July, 2013: Senior Scientist
  • January, 2011 - June, 2011: Acting Director, Senior Scientist
  • 2010 - 2011: Deputy Director, Senior Scientist
  • 2009 - 2010: Acting Director, Senior Scientist
  • 2005 - 2009: Deputy Director, Senior Scientist
  • 1989 - 2005: Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole
  • 1993 - 1994: Visiting Senior Scientist, Office of Mission to Planet Earth, NASA, Washington, D.C.
  • 1987 - 1989: Associate Scientist, The Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA
  • 1984 - 1987: Assistant Scientist, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Lab., Woods Hole, MA
  • 1975 - 1984: Research Associate, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Lab., Woods Hole, MA
  • 1967 - 1974: Research Associate, Biology Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY

Research Interests

The global carbon cycle, terrestrial ecosystems, land-use change, response of ecosystems to climatic change.

Selected publications

Friedlingstein, P., R.A. Houghton, G. Marland, J. Hackler, T.A. Boden, T.J. Conway, J.G. Canadell, M.R. Raupach, P. Ciais, and C. Le Quéré. 2010. Update on CO2 emissions. Nature Geoscience 3:811-812.

Greenglass, N., J. Funk, M. Chaum, and R.A. Houghton. 2010. Fixing a flawed approach to forest accounting in the next round of the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon Management 1(2): 179–182.

Houghton, R.A. 2010. How well do we know the flux of CO2 from land-use change? Tellus B, 62(5):337-351. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2010.00473.x

Houghton, R.A., N. Greenglass, A. Baccini, A. Cattaneo, S. Goetz, J. Kellndorfer, N. Laporte, and W. Walker. 2010. The role of science in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). Carbon Management 1(2), 253–259.

Olofsson, P., P. Torchinava, C. E. Woodcock, A. Baccini, R. A. Houghton, M. Ozdogan, F. Zhao and X. Yang. 2010. Implications of land use change on the national terrestrial carbon budget of Georgia. Carbon Balance and Management 5:4 doi:10.1186/1750-0680-5-4

Greenglass, N., and R.A. Houghton. 2011. Towards results-based REDD+ mechanisms. Carbon Management 2:513-515.

Hall, F.G., K. Bergen, J.B. Blair, R. Dubayah, R. Houghton, G. Hurtt, J. Kellndorfer, M. Lefsky, J. Ranson, S. Saatchi, H.H. Shugart, and D. Wickland. 2011. Characterizing 3-D vegetation structure from space: Mission requirements. Remote Sensing of Environment 115:2753-2775.

Hurtt, G.C., L.P. Chini, S. Frolking, R.A. Betts, J. Feddema, G. Fischer, J.P. Fisk, K. Hibbard, R.A. Houghton, A. Janetos, C.D. Jones, G. Kindermann, T. Kinoshita, Kees Klein Goldewijk, K. Riahi, E. Shevliakova, S. Smith, E. Stehfest, A. Thomson, P. Thornton, D.P. van Vuuren, and Y.P. Wang. 2011. Harmonization of land-use scenarios for the period 1500–2100: 600 years of global gridded annual land-use transitions, wood harvest, and resulting secondary lands. Climatic Change 109:117–161; doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0153-2.

Kuemmerle, T. P., Olofsson, O. Chaskovskyy, M. Baumann, K. Ostapowicz, C.E. Woodcock, R.A. Houghton, P. Hostert, W.S. Keeton, and V.C. Radeloff. 2011. Post-Soviet farmland abandonment, forest recovery, and carbon sequestration in western Ukraine. Global Change Biology 17:1335-1349.

Masek, J.G., W.B. Cohen, D. Leckie, M.A. Wulder, R. Vargas, B. de Jong, S. Healey, B. Law, R. Birdsey, R.A. Houghton, D. Mildrexler, S. Goward, and W. B. Smith. 2011. Recent rates of forest harvest and conversion in North America. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, G00K03, doi:10.1029/2010JG001471.

McKinley, D.C., M.G. Ryan, R.A. Birdsey, C.P. Giardina, M.E. Harmon, L.S. Heath, R.A. Houghton, R.B. Jackson, J.F. Morrison, B.C. Murray, D.E. Pataki, and K.E. Skog. 2011. A synthesis of current knowledge on forests and carbon storage in the United States. Ecological Applications 21:1902-1924.

Olofsson, P., T. Kuemmerle, P. Griffiths, J. Knorn, A. Baccini, V. Gancz, V. Blujdea, R.A. Houghton, I.V. Abrudan and C.E. Woodcock. 2011. Carbon implications of forest restitution in post-socialist Romania. Environmental Research Letters 6 045202.

Pan, Y., R.A. Birdsey, J. Fang, R. Houghton, P.E. Kauppi, W.A. Kurz, O.L. Phillips, A. Shvidenko, S.L. Lewis, J.G. Canadell, P. Ciais, R.B. Jackson, S.W. Pacala, A.D. McGuire, S. Piao, A. Rautiainen, S. Sitch, and D. Hayes. 2011. A large and persistent carbon sink in the world’s forests. Science 333:988-993.

Richter, D. deB., and R.A. Houghton. 2011. Gross CO2 fluxes from land-use change: Implications for reducing global emissions and increasing sinks. Carbon Management 2:41-47.

Woodwell, G.M., R.A. Houghton, E.A. Davidson and D.C. Nepstad. 2011. The first principles for climatic stabilization. Carbon Management 2:605-606.

Baccini, A., S.J. Goetz, W.S. Walker, N.T. Laporte, M. Sun, D. Sulla-Menashe, J. Hackler, P.S.A. Beck, R. Dubayah, M.A. Friedl, S. Samanta, and R.A. Houghton. 2012. Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation improved by carbon-density maps. Nature Climate Change 2:182-185; doi:10.1038/nclimate1354.

Gloor, M., L. Gatti, R. Brienen, T.R. Feldpausch, O.L. Phillips, J. Miller, J.P. Ometto, H. Rocha, T. Baker, B. de Jong, R.A. Houghton, Y. Malhi, L.E.O. C. Aragão, J.-L. Guyot, K. Zhao, R. Jackson, P. Peylin, S. Sitch, B. Poulter, M. Lomas, S. Zaehle, C. Huntingford, P. Levy, and J. Lloyd. 2012. The carbon balance of South America: a review of the status, decadal trends and main determinants. Biogeosciences 9:5407-5430.

Goetz, S.J., B. Bond-Lamberty, B.E. Law, J.A. Hicke, C. Huang, R.A. Houghton, S. McNulty, T. O'Halloran, M. Harmon, A.J.H. Meddens, E.M. Pfeifer, D. Mildrexler, E.S. Kasischke. 2012. Observations and assessment of forest carbon dynamics following disturbance in North America. Journal of Geophysical Research 117: No. G2, G02022 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011JG001733

Houghton, R.A. 2012. Carbon emissions and the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the tropics. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 4:597-603.

Houghton, R.A. 2012. Historic changes in terrestrial carbon storage. Pages 59-82 in: R. Lal, K. Lorenz, R. F. Hüttl, B.U. Schneider, and J. von Braun (editors). Recarbonization of the Biosphere: Ecosystems and the Global Carbon Cycle. Springer, Dordrecht. DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-4159-1_4.

Houghton, R.A. 2012. Land management options for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. In: Freedman, B. (Ed.) Global Environmental Change: SpringerReference (www.springerreference.com). Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 0. DOI: 10.1007/SpringerReference_300074 2012-02-01 13:50:14 UTC

Houghton, R.A., J.I. House, J. Pongratz, G.R. van der Werf, R.S. DeFries, M.C. Hansen, C. Le Quéré, and N. Ramankutty. 2012. Carbon emissions from land use and land-cover change. Biogeosciences 9:5125-5142. doi:10.5194/bg-9-5125-2012.

Le Quéré, C., R.J. Andres, T. Boden, T. Conway, R.A. Houghton, J.I. House, G. Marland, G.P. Peters, G. van der Werf, A. Ahlström, R.M. Andrew, L. Bopp, J.G. Canadell, P. Ciais, S.C. Doney, C. Enright, P. Friedlingstein, C. Huntingford, A.K. Jain, C. Jourdain, E. Kato , R.F. Keeling, K. Klein Goldewijk, S. Levis, P. Levy, M. Lomas, B. Poulter, M.R. Raupach, J. Schwinger, S. Sitch, B.D. Stocker, N. Viovy, S. Zaehle, and N. Zeng. 2012. The global carbon budget 1959-2011. Earth System Science Data Discussions 5:1107-1157.

Birdsey, R, Y. Pan, R. Houghton. 2013. Sustainable landscapes in a world of change: tropical forests, land use and implementation of REDD+: Part I. Carbon Management 4(5):465-468.

Birdsey, R, Y. Pan, R. Houghton. 2013. Sustainable landscapes in a world of change: tropical forests, land use and implementation of REDD+: Part II. Carbon Management 4(6):567–569.

Erb, K.-H., T. Kastner, S. Luyssaert, R.A. Houghton, T. Kuemmerle, P. Olofsson, and H. Haberl. 2013. Bias in the attribution of forest carbon sinks. Nature Climate Change 3:854-856.

Houghton, R.A. 2013. The contribution of land use and land-use change to the carbon cycle. Pages 52-76 in: D.G. Brown, D.T. Robinson, N.H.F. French, and B.C. Reed (editors). Land Use and the Carbon Cycle. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Houghton, R.A. 2013. The emissions of carbon from deforestation and degradation in the tropics: Past trends and future potential. Carbon Management 4(5):539–546.

Houghton, R.A. 2013. Keeping management effects separate from environmental effects in terrestrial carbon accounting. Global Change Biology 19:2609-2612.

Houghton, R.A. 2013. Role of forests and impact of deforestation in the global carbon cycle. Pages 15-38 in: F. Achard & M.C. Hansen (editors). Global Forest Monitoring from Earth Observation. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Le Quéré, C., R.J. Andres, T. Boden, T. Conway, R.A. Houghton, J.I. House, G. Marland, G.P. Peters, G. van der Werf, A. Ahlström, R.M. Andrew, L. Bopp, J.G. Canadell, P. Ciais, S.C. Doney, C. Enright, P. Friedlingstein, C. Huntingford, A.K. Jain, C. Jourdain, E. Kato , R.F. Keeling, K. Klein Goldewijk, S. Levis, P. Levy, M. Lomas, B. Poulter, M.R. Raupach, J. Schwinger, S. Sitch, B.D. Stocker, N. Viovy, S. Zaehle, and N. Zeng. 2013. The global carbon budget 1959-2011. Earth System Science Data 5:165-185.

Patra, P. K., Canadell, J. G., Houghton, R. A., Piao, S. L., Oh, N.-H., Ciais, P., Manjunath, K. R., Chhabra, A., Wang, T., Bhattacharya, T., Bousquet, P., Hartman, J., Ito, A., Mayorga, E., Niwa, Y., Raymond, P. A., Sarma, V. V. S. S., and Lasco, R. 2013. The carbon budget of South Asia, Biogeosciences 10: 513-527, doi:10.5194/bg-10-513-2013.

Smith, K.R., M.A. Desai, J.V. Rogers, and R.A. Houghton. 2013. Joint CO2 and CH4 accountability for global warming. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US), published online July 11, 2013:E2865–E2874; doi/10.1073/pnas.1308004110 PNAS.

Tyukavina, A., S. Stehman, P. Potapov, S.A. Turubanova, A. Baccini, S.J. Goetz, N.T. Laporte, R.A. Houghton, and M.C. Hansen. 2013. National-scale estimation of gross forest aboveground carbon loss: a case study of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Environmental Research Letters 8:044039 (14pp); doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/044039

Houghton, R.A. 2014. Carbon dioxide and climate: game changers. Pages 23-33 in: R.A. Houghton & A.B. White (editors). Ecology and the Common Good, Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA.

Houghton, R.A. 2014. The contemporary carbon cycle. Pages 399-435 in: D.M. Karl and W.H. Schlesinger (editors). Volume 10, Treatise on Biogeochemistry (Second Edition) (eds. H.D. Holland and K.K. Turekian). Elsevier.

Houghton, R.A., and A.B. White (editors). 2014. Ecology and the Common Good. The Great Issues of Environment in the Twenty-First Century, Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA.

Luyssaert, S., M. Jammet, P.C. Stoy, S. Estel, J. Pongratz, E. Ceschia, G. Churkina, A. Don, K.-H. Erb, M. Ferlicoq, B. Gielen, T. Grünwald, R.A. Houghton, K. Klumpp, A. Knohl, T. Kolb, T. Kuemmerle, T. Laurila, A. Lohila, D. Loustau, M.J. McGrath, P. Meyfroidt, E.J. Moors, K. Naudts, K. Novick, J. Otto, K. Pilegaard, C.A. Pio, S. Rambal, C. Rebmann, J. Ryder, A.E. Suyker, A. Varlagin, M. Wattenbach, A.J. Dolman. 2014. Land management and land- cover change have impacts of similar magnitude on surface temperature. Nature Climate Change

J. Pongratz, C.H. Reick, R.A. Houghton, and J.I. House. 2014. Terminology as a key uncertainty in net land use and land cover change carbon flux estimates. Earth System Dynamics 5:177-195.

Valentini, R., A. Arneth, A. Bombelli, S. Castaldi, R. Cazzolla Gatti, F. Chevallier, P. Ciais, E. Grieco, J. Hartmann, M. Henry, R. A. Houghton, M. Jung, W. L. Kutsch, Y. Malhi, E. Mayorga, L. Merbold, G. Murray-Tortarolo, D. Papale, P. Peylin, B. Poulter, P. A. Raymond, M. Santini, S. Sitch, G. Vaglio Laurin, G. R. van der Werf, C. A. Williams, and R. J. Scholes. 2014. The full greenhouse gases budget of Africa: synthesis, uncertainties and vulnerabilities. Biogeosciences 11:381-407.

Achievements and Awards

  • Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Forest Science, University of Munich, 1995
  • Along with the IPCC, a portion of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2007.
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, 2012