Peter E Thornton

Peter E Thornton

Corporate Fellow, Section Head for Earth Systems Science, Director of Climate Change Science Institute

Dr. Peter Thornton studies the interactions of land ecosystems with all other components of the Earth's climate system, including biogeochemical and physical  land-atmosphere feedbacks, and interactions with human systems. His research spans spatial scales from organisms to the global Earth system, and involves model development, model evaluation against observations and experimentation, and model applications to discover emergent properties of ecosystems. A special focus of his research is the coupling of carbon, water, and energy cycles with the biotic and abiotic cycling of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus which limit growth and metabolism of plants and microbes. Other primary research topics include the influence of disturbance on biogeochemistry-climate system feedbacks, model evaluation and uncertainty quantification, and biometeorology.

Dr. Thornton has been a member of the scientific staff at ORNL since 2008, and is a Corporate Fellow in the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD). He is the Section Head within ESD for the Earth Systems Science Section, which consists of five groups and approximately 50 research and technical staff with expertise in biogeochemical dynamics, plant-soil interactions, ecosystem processes, watershed systems, and Earth system studies. 

Dr. Thornton also serves as Director of ORNL's Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI). Established in 2009, CCSI is an intellectual home to researchers from across ORNL's directorates and divisions who engage in some aspect of climate change research. CCSI also supports a program dedicated to the application of ORNL's deep climate science knowledge and expertise to serve the emerging needs of stakeholders in the Southeast region, the nation, and the world. 

Dr. Thornton has served as a mentor to technology projects within the Oak Ridge Public Schools and is a board member for the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation.

ResearcherID: B-9145-2012