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James W McClelland

Department of Marine Science

Land-Sea Coupling, Coastal Ecosystem Dynamics, Biogeochemistry


Phone: 361-749-6756

Office Location

Postal Address

Ph.D., Boston University (1998)
B.S., University of Washington (1991)

Research Interests

Land-Sea Coupling/Coastal Ecosystem Dynamics/Biogeochemistry

Effects of human activity on water, carbon, and nutrient fluxes from land to sea; responses of estuarine and coastal food webs to changes in land-derived resources; use of stable isotopes and other natural tracers to follow water and water-borne constituents across the land-sea interface.

Environmental changes as a consequence of human activity, including changes in land use, land cover, and global warming, provide the context for much of my work. These changes are having a profound influence on the transport of water and water-borne constituents from land to sea. In turn, changes in the fluxes of water, carbon, and nutrients to estuaries and the coastal ocean are altering fundamental ecosystem properties such as primary production and food web structure.

Changes in land-sea fluxes have broader implications as well, including alteration of the global carbon budget and potential impacts of freshwater inputs on global ocean circulation and climate. To identify and explore changes in land-sea coupling I use a wide variety of approaches including analysis of historic data sets, field studies of biogeochemical cycling and constituent transport, and modeling. In my field studies, I frequently take advantage stable isotopes and other natural markers to track the fate of water, organic matter, and nutrients from land through estuarine and marine systems.

Ten Recent Publications

Connolly, C.T., M.B. Cardenas, G.A. Burkart, R.G.M. Spencer, and J.W. McClelland. 2020. Groundwater as a major source of dissolved organic matter to Arctic coastal waters. Nature Communications 11, 1479, doi:10.1038/s41467-020-15250-8.

Jones, A.E., A.K. Hardison, B.R. Hodges, J.W. McClelland, and K.B. Moffett. 2020. Defining a riverine tidal freshwater zone and its spatiotemporal dynamics. Water Resources Research 56, e2019WR026619, doi:10.1029/2019WR026619.

Tank, S.E., J.E. Vonk, M.A. Walvoord, J.W. McClelland, I. Laurion, and B.W. Abbott.  2020.  Landscape matters: Predicting the biogeochemical effects of permafrost thaw on aquatic networks with a state factor approach, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, doi:10.1002/ppp.2057.

Zolkos, S., D.P. Krabbenhoft, A. Suslova, S.E. Tank, J.W. McClelland, R.G.M. Spencer, A. Shiklomanov, A.V. Zhulidov, T. Gurtovaya, N. Zimov, S. Zimov, E.A. Mutter, L. Kutny, E. Amos, and R.M. Holmes. 2020. Mercury Export from Arctic Great Rivers. Environmental Science and Technology, doi:10.1021/acs.est.9b07145.

Drake, T.W., R.M. Holmes, A.V. Zhulidov, T. Gurtovaya, P.A. Raymond, J.W. McClelland, and R.G.M. Spencer.  2019.  Multi-decadal climate-induced changes in Arctic tundra lake geochemistry and geomorphology.  Limnology and Oceanography 64:S179–S191, doi:10.1002/lno.11015

Glibert, P.M., J.J. Middelburg, J.W. McClelland, and J. Vander Zanden.  2019.  Stable isotope tracers: Enriching our perspectives and questions on sources, fates, rates and pathways of major elements in aquatic systems.  Limnology and Oceanography 64:950-981, doi:10.1002/lno.11087.

Kellogg, C.T.E., J.W. McClelland, K.H. Dunton, and B.C. Crump. 2019. Strong seasonality in Arctic estuarine microbial food webs. Frontiers in Microbiology 10, 2628, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.02628

Wild, B., A. Andersson, L. Bröder, J. Vonk, G. Hugelius, J.W. McClelland, W. Song, P.A. Raymond, and Ö. Gustafsson.  2019.  Rivers across the Siberian Arctic unearth the patterns of carbon release from thawing permafrost.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1811797116.

Connolly, C.T, M.S. Khosh, G. Burkart, T.A. Douglas, R.M. Holmes, A.D. Jacobson, S.E. Tank, and J.W. McClelland. 2018.  Watershed slope as a predictor of fluvial dissolved organic matter and nitrate concentrations across geographical space and catchment size in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters 13, 104015, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aae35d.

Griffin, C.G., J.W. McClelland, K.E. Frey, G. Fiske, and R.M. Holmes.  2018.  Quantifying CDOM and DOC in major Arctic rivers during ice-free conditions using Landsat TM and ETM+ data.  Remote Sensing of Environment 209:395-409, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2018.02.060.


2015             Water Resources Research Editor’s Choice Award (for McClelland et al. 2014,
                     River export of nutrients and organic matter from the North Slope of Alaska to the
                     Beaufort Sea, doi:10.1002/2013WR014722)

2010             UT-Austin College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award
1998             NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science and Engineering