Participating Students - Kimberly Mueller

Kimberly Mueller
University of Michigan
Department of Environmental Engineering
Enrollment Year: 2006
Email Address: kimlm at
Atmospheric Mentor: Anna Michalak, University of Michigan
Biospheric Mentor: Peter Curtis, Ohio State University

Kim Mueller graduated with her B.S.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1998. After college, she was employed as an engineering consultant for 7 years, working on a diverse range of projects that involved flood modeling and mitigation, environmental remediation, GIS application development, and water treatment design both in Washington DC and Melbourne, Australia. During this time, she traveled to India to study community development with Oxfam where many development issues revolved around natural resource problems, e.g. extreme climate events such as drought and water resource management. She returned to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan in 2005 to pursue a PhD, switching from more traditional environmental engineering to carbon science and global climate change, geostatistics, and inverse modeling. Kim's research interests are focused on using geostatistical techniques to evaluate biospheric and climatic influences on carbon dioxide fluxes to further the general knowledge of the carbon cycle and to assist terrestrial carbon budgeting. She is partly motivated to work in the climate change area because of her experiences in India, understanding that shifts in climate will have the most serious consequences for the world’s poorest communities.  Besides school, Kim is an avid soccer fan and frequently can be found on the soccer pitch with her husband Alex. She's excited to be back in school, although she sometime misses the challenges of consulting including business development and project management.


Research Topics:

Evaluation of process-based carbon flux drivers through geo-statistical models

There remain significant uncertainties as to the magnitude and location of terrestrial carbon sources and sinks.  Biospheric models aim to describe the biophysical and ecological processes to estimate terrestrial CO2 flux although these models cannot always reproduce measured CO2 concentrations when coupled with an atmospheric transport model.  The proposed research seeks to improve our understanding of the relationship between critical biosphysical and ecological processes and atmospheric carbon dioxide flux.

The primary objective of the proposed research is to use geostatistical methods (geostatistical inversion and dual kriging) to characterize the relationships between fluxes and auxiliary environmental data and develop process-based understanding of variables controlling biospheric CO2 fluxes at several spatial and temporal scales.

The proposed research is comprised of two principal parts.  First, the research will involve a landscape dual kriging study for small spatiotemporal scales to intimately investigate the relationship between environmental parameters and CO2 flux.  Second, a regional geostatistical inversion of North America will be performed using coarser resolutions to determine how differing scales affect relationships between environmental variables and CO2 fluxes.

This research will take advantage of the resources of the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) and the comprehensive ecological understanding of the site to help investigate the complex biologic and atmospheric interactions.  Specifically, the proposed research will utilize AmeriFlux tower data and other complied environmental parameters of the surrounding landscape.

Kim's University of Michigan Website