Dr. Karin Kvale

Forschungsbereich 2: Marine Biogeochemie
FE Biogeochemische Modellierung

Room: SB-6
Phone: +49 431 600-4289
Email: kkvale(at)

Düsternbrooker Weg 2
D-24105 Kiel

Research interests and expertise

I am interested in internally and externally-driven ocean biogeochemical feedbacks and climate system thresholds.

I use simple and intermediate-complexity climate models to test representations of marine biogeochemistry and phytoplankton ecology with the objective of cost-effectively simulating their influence on climate over a variety of timescales.

My current work explores model structural uncertainty using parameter optimisation methods, and the role of calcifier-diatom competition in climate over glacial timescales. I have also recently developed the first earth system model to include microplastic pollution in order to simulate the effects of plastics on global biogeochemistry.

I am an expert in modelling the role of marine ecology in global biogeochemical cycles and in simulating the response of ocean primary production to climate change.  

Papers in review

Kvale KF, Prowe AEF, Oschlies A. A critical examination of the role of marine snow and zooplankton faecal pellets in removing ocean surface microplastic. Submitted to Frontiers in Marine Science: Marine Pollution. 

Yao W, Kvale KF, Achterberg E, Koeve W, Oschlies A. Hierarchy of calibrated global models reveals improved distributions and fluxes of biogeochemical tracers in models with explicit representation of iron. Submitted to Environmental Research Letters.

Refereed publications

Kvale KF, Turner KE, Landolfi A, Meissner KJ. (2019) Phytoplankton calcifiers control nitrate cycling and the pace of transition in warming icehouse and cooling greenhouse climates. Biogeosciences.

Kvale KF, Turner KE, Keller DP, Meissner KJ (2018). Asymmetric dynamical ocean responses in warming icehouse and cooling greenhouse climates. Environmental Research Letters.

Kvale KF and Meissner KJ (2017). Primary production sensitivity to phytoplankton light attenuation parameter increases with transient forcing. Biogeosciences. doi:10.9514/bg-14-4767-2017.

Kvale KF, Khatiwala S, Dietze H, Kriest I, Oschlies A (2017). Evaluation of the Transport Matrix Method for simulation of ocean biogeochemical tracers. Geosci. Model Dev.doi:10.5194/gmd-2017-29.

Kvale KF, Meissner KJ, Keller DP (2015). Potential increasing dominance of heterotrophy in the global ocean. Environmental Research Letters. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/7/074009.

Kvale KF, Meissner KJ, Keller DP, Eby M, Schmittner A (2015). Explicit planktic calcifiers in the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model version 2.9.  Atmosphere-Ocean. doi:10.1080/07055900.2015.1049112.

Kvale KF, Zickfeld K, Meissner KJ, Tanaka K, Bruckner T, Weaver A (2012). Carbon dioxide emission pathways avoiding dangerous ocean impacts.  Weather, Climate and Society, 4(3). doi:10.1175/WCAS-D-11-00030.1.

Kvale KF, Pryor SC (2006). Precipitation composition in the Ohio River Valley: Spatial variability and temporal trends. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 170. doi:10.1007/s11270-006-2861-1.

Renshaw CE, Johnson GD, Kvale KF. (2000). A laboratory exercise to determine dinosaur speeds using dimensional analysis.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 48.

Recent presentations

Future global ocean oxygen trends are potentially vulnerable to microplastic pollution. European Geophysical Union Meeting, Vienna, Austria (April 2019)

Marine transitions in warming icehouse and cooling greenhouse climates. Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney, AU (13.02.2019)

Other publications

Kvale KF (2014).  Representations of biological calcification in two climate models, PhD Dissertation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Link

Kvale KF, Meissner KJ,  d’Orgeville M, Matear R, McNeil B, England MH (2011). The combined impact of CO2-dependent parameterizations of Redfield and rain ratios on ocean carbonate saturation. Biogeosciences Discussions. Link

Kvale KF (2008). Carbon Dioxide Emission Pathways Avoiding Dangerous Ocean Impacts. Masters Dissertation, University of Victoria. Link

PhD Student Supervision

Himadri Saini (2018 - present). Co-supervising PhD at University of New South Wales, Sydney, AU. Her thesis work focuses on calcifier and diatom interactions over glacial cycles.

Wanxuan Yao (2016 - present). Advising on Wanxuan's doctoral thesis topic of iron model parameter optimsation.

Student Assistants (HiWi)

Katherine Turner, November 2015 - June 2017

Hannah Geisinger, September - October 2017


PhD Climate Science (2014), University of New South Wales, Australia

MSc Atmospheric Science (2009), University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

BSc Environmental Science (2005), Indiana University, U.S.A., with minors in Geology, Mathematics and Geography

Teaching experience

Introduction to the Marine Environment (MSCI0501, UNSW):

·      Course Coordinator, S2 2009- S1 2011

·      Botany Bay Field Trip Leader/Lecturer S1 2010- S1 2011

·      Sydney Aquarium Field Trip Leader S1 2010- S1 2011

Coral Reefs: Ecology and Environment (MSCI2051, UNSW):

·      Lady Eliott Island Field Trip Lecturer 2/2010

Introduction to the Earth System (EOS110, Univ. of Victoria):

·      Lab Teaching Assistant 9/2007-12/2007