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Forests at the dry timberline are important testbeds for probing ecosystem response to change

Forests at the dry timberline are important testbeds for probing ecosystem response to change

Dan Yakir
Earth & Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Insitute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Prof. Dan Yakir was born in Israel. He earned his BSc, MSc and PhD in agricultural biochemistry, all from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He conducted postdoctoral research at UCLA and Duke University in the US and then returned to Israel to join the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research (now the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences) He has served as Head of the Department, as well as having served as a National Research Council Senior Fellow at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Colorado, and as a visiting professor of Columbia University’s Biosphere-II Center. He is currently serving as Chair of the Weizmann Institute’s Council of Professors. Prof. Yakir investigates the interactions between the biosphere and atmosphere, particularly the role plants play in maintaining the global environment. By measuring tiny differences in the concentrations of oxygen and carbon isotopes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and water vapor, as well as the minute concentrations of other trace gases in the atmosphere, he is able to “read” the chemical processes that occur in plants and the soil, and assess carbon storage in the biosphere. His data reveal changes in this gas exchange as the climate changes and the environment undergoes such disturbances as air pollution, giving policy makers a more precise yardstick by which to measure the impact of human activity. His studies may also assist in enhancing the carbon sequestration capabilities of forests, mainly in semi-arid regions, and in countering desertification trends in vulnerable regions. Prof. Yakir was awarded the Israel Prize in Geology, Earth Sciences and Atmospheric Sciences; he received the Landau Prize for research in environmental sciences; and the KKL Margarita Ravelo Annual Award. He was elected a member and Vice Chair of the Board of the Israel Society of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, a member of the Board of the Inter-University Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat, the Davisson Institute of Science Education, and a member of the Board of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Prof. Yakir was a member of the subcommittee for Environmental Sciences, and currently of the subcommittee for Digital Israel of the Council for Higher Education. He received the Eminent Speakers Award from European Association of Geochemistry, a visiting professorship from Innsbruck University, and was the CIRES Senior Visiting Fellow in Boulder, Colorado and from the Earth Institute of Columbia University. He is currently the associate editor of Biogeoscience. Prof. Yakir is married to Hadas and he is father to three children who live, work and study in Israel.