Department of Earth Sciences
Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences

Paul Glaser


220C Pillsbury Hall


Research Professor

Ph.D, 1978, University of Minnesota



Research Interests:

My research activities are largely centered on peatlands, a type of wetland that accumulates thick deposits of organic matter under anoxic conditions. Peat deposits now cover more than 20% of the land surface of Canada and Alaska forming a globally important sink for CO2 and source for CH4. A broad consensus exists that peatlands represented a pivotal component of the global climate system throughout the late Quaternary when large amplitude shifts in air temperature were closely coupled to atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. However, critical questions remain regarding the carbon balance and stability of peatlands during periods of rapid environmental change.

My work over the past 30 years has focused on linking peatland dynamics to groundwater flow systems at both local and regional scales. This work has emphasized climate-water-carbon interactions within the deeper portions of peat profiles, which were once widely viewed as resistant to both solute transport and microbial metabolism. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach I work closely with prominent scholars in the geosciences (e.g. hydrogeology, biogeochemistry, geophysics) and biological sciences (ecosystem ecologists, paleoecologists, and botanists), Some recent themes for recent projects include:

1) methane production, transport, and emissions in large peat basins

2) transport of water, solutes, gases, in large peat basins with special attention to dissolved carbon substrates that sustain microbial mineralization of dissolved organic matter to CO2 and CH4.

3) deformations of the peat fabric as an in situ indicator for the accumulation and loss of free-phase CH4 in deep peat strata

4) the growth of carbon pools in large peat basins since the last glaciation

5) linkage of peatland carbon balance to rates and pathways of ecosystem development under different environmental drivers.


The principal field areas for these projects have been:

a) Glacial Lake Agassiz peatlands, northern MN where groundwater flow systems are periodically perturbed by large shifts in precipitation over seasonal to multi-decadal time scales. This peat basin is the site for the Red Lake Peatland Observatory, an integrated network of 15 instrument stations that continuously monitor fluxes of water, greenhouse gases, and heat in a remote 1300 km2 peatland.

b) Hudson Bay Lowland, northern Ontario where the rapid rate of Glacial Isostatic Adjustment continues to alter the fluvial drainage networks and rates of peatland development over the past 8000 years

c) Everglades, Florida, which have developed in response of rising sea level, climatic change, and deposition of dust transported long distances from the Sahara.


Awards/Elected Offices:

Fellow, Geological Society of America (2007).

Member-at-Large, Section of Geology and Geography, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2011-2015).

Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences (2012),


Selected Publications:


85. National Research Council. Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Fifth Biennial Review, 2014. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2014. Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress; Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB); Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST); Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS); National Research Council. (with 15 other panel members and NRC staff)


84. Dommain, R., J. Couwenberg, P. H Glaser, H. Joosten, I. Nyoman, and N.Suryadiputra (2014). Carbon storage and release in Indonesian peatlands since the Last Deglaciation, Quaternary Science Reviews 97: 1-32.


83. Levy, Z.F., D. I. Siegel, S. S. Dasgupta, P.H. Glaser, and J. M. Welker (2014) Stable isotopes of water show deep seasonal recharge in northern bogs and fens. Hydrological Processes 228: 4938-4952.


82. Reeve, A.S., P.H. Glaser, D.O. Rosenberry (2013). Seasonal changes in peatland surface elevation recorded with GPS stations in the Red Lake Peatlands, northern Minnesota, USA. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 118, doi 10.1002/2013JG002404


81. CorbettJ.E.,, M. M. Tfaily, A. R. Dial, D. J. Burdige, W. T. Cooper, P.H. Glaser, and J. P. Chanton. (2013) Surface production fuels deep heterotrophic respiration in northern peatlands. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 27, doi:10.1002/2013GB004677.


80. Glaser, P.H., B. C. S. Hansen, J. J. Donovan, T. J. Givnish, C. A. Stricker, and J. C. Volin (2013) Holocene dynamics of the Florida Everglades with respect to climate, dustfall, and tropical storms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (43): 17211-17216.


79. TfailyM.M, J. E. Corbett, J. P. Chanton, P. H. Glaser, and W. T. Cooper (2013) Investigating dissolved organic matter decomposition in northern peatlands using complimentary analytical techniques. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 112: 116-129.

78. Corbett, J. E., M. M. Tfaily, D. J. Burdige,W. T. Cooper, P. H. Glaser, and J. P. Chanton (2013). Partitioning pathways of CO2 production in peatlands with stable carbon isotopes. Biogeochemistry 114: 327-340. . DOI 10.1007/s10533-012-9813-1.

77. Glaser, P.H., J. C. Volin, T. J. Givnish, B. C.S. Hansen, and C. A. Stricker (2012). Carbon and sediment accumulation in the Everglades (USA) during the past 4000 years: rates, drivers, and sources of error. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 117, G03026, doi:10.1029/2011JG001821, 2012.

76. Parsekian, A. X. Comas , L. Slater, and P. Glaser (2011). Geophysical evidence for the lateral distribution of free-phase gas at the peat basin scale in a large northern peatland. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, G03008, doi:10.1029/2010JG001543, 2011.

75. Corbett, J.E., Chanton, J.P., Burdige, D. Glaser, P. H., Cooper, W. T. Siegel, D. I., Dasgupta, S. S.), Tfaily, M.M. (2010). Partitioning peatland gas production: Determining the fraction of CO2 produced from methanogenesis. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74: A190-A190 Suppl. 1.

74. D’Andrilli, J. J.P. Chanton, P. H. Glaser, and W.T. Cooper (2010). Characterization of dissolved organic matter in northern peatland soil porewaters using Ultrahigh Resolution Mass Spectrometry. Organic Geochemistry 41: 791-799.

73. Parsekian, A. D., L. Slater, X. Comas, and P. H. Glaser (2010), Variations in free-phase gases in peat landforms determined by ground penetrating radar, J. Geophys. Res.115, G02002, doi:10.1029/2009JG001086.