The Weizmann Institute of Science
Biosphere-atmosphere interactions across scales and environmental conditions.
To understand the processes underlying the response of ecosystems in dry climates to local and global change,
How this interacts with other ecosystems and climates in shaping the activities of the terrestrial biosphere.
Dan Yakir, earned his BSc (1978), MSc (1980), and PhD (1987) in agricultural biochemistry, all from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He conducted his postdoctoral research at UCLA and later returned to Israel to join the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research (now the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences) in 1991, which he went on to head from 2003-2009. Prof. Yakir also 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 the Chair of the Weizmann Institute’s Council of Professors.
Prof. Yakir investigates the interactions between the biosphere and atmosphere, particularly ways in which plants influence 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 both plants and soil, and assess the carbon storage in the biosphere. His data reveal changes in gas exchange in response to climate change and environmental disturbances such as increases in air pollution, giving policy makers a more precise yardstick by which to measure the impact of human activity. His studies can also assist in enhancing carbon sequestration in forests, and in countering desertification trends in vulnerable regions.
In 2019, Prof. Yakir was awarded the Israel Prize in Geology, Earth Sciences and Atmospheric Sciences. He received the Landau Prize for research in environmental sciences in 2006 and the KKL Margarita Ravelo Annual Award in 2004. He was elected a member and Vice Chair of the Board of the Israel Society of Ecological and Environmental Sciences (2010-2016), a member of the Board of the Inter-University Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat (2009-2015), and a member of the Board of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (2013-present). 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 (2014), a visiting Professorship from Innsbruck University (2017), was the CIRES Senior Visiting Fellow in Boulder, Colorado (2012). He is currently the associate editor of Biogeoscience.