Ross A. Virginia

Academic Appointments

Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science, Department of Environmental Studies
Adjunct Professor of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences
Distinguished Stefansson-Nef Arctic Faculty Fellow, Institute of Arctic Studies, Dickey Center for International Understanding
Faculty Advisor, Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy & Society
Global Fellow, Polar Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC

I am an ecosystem ecologist and member of the Environmental Studies Program faculty interested in how rapid environmental change affects ecosystems and society.  My emphasis is on understanding how climate change alters vegetation and soil and the ecological services they provide. My current research examines carbon and nitrogen cycling in the polar deserts of Antarctica and in the tundra of western Greenland. I am also interested in the relationships between the disciplines of ecology, ecosystem science, and environmental law. I am active in Arctic policy and global environmental issues as past director of Dartmouth's Institute of Arctic Studies, Dickey Center for International Understanding, and as co-director of the University of the Arctic Institute for Arctic Policy. As one of two distinguished lead scholars for the U.S. Department of State Fulbright Arctic Initiative I was priviledged to bring together thematic teams of researchers from the eight Arctic nations to focus on issues of community resilience and sustainability under rapid social, political, and environmental change.

109 Steele Hall
HB 6182
Biological Sciences
Earth Sciences
Environmental Studies
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
B.S. SUNY College Envl. Sci and Forestry, 1972
M.S. University of California Davis, 1974
Ph.D. University of California Davis, 1980

Selected Publications

Finger Higgens, R., M. H. DeSiervo, M. P. Ayres, and R. A. Virginia. 2021. Warming temperatures are associated with increased shrub herbivory in West Greenland. Oecologia,

DeSirervo, M. H., M. P. Ayres, R. A. Virginia, and L. E. Culler. 2020. Consumer-resource dynamics in Arctic ponds. Ecology, DOI:10.1002/ecy.3135

Wall, D. H., and R. A. Virginia. 2020. The world beneath us: Making soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning central to environmental policy. Unsolved Problems in Ecology, A. Hobson, D. Tilman and R. D. Holt, editors, Princeton University Press, pgs 265-275 IBSN: 9780691199825

Culler, L. E., S. Lund, J. Nymand and R. A. Virginia. 2019. Facilitating increased engagement between the research communities of Greenland and the U.S. Workshop Report, August 27-28, 2019, Nuuk Greenland.

Post, E., R. B. Alley, T. R. Christensen, M. Marcus-Fauria, B. C. Forbes, M. N. Gooseff, A. Iler, J. T. Kerby, K. L. Laidre, M. E. Mann, J. Olofsson, J. C Stroeve, F. Ulmer, R. A. Virginia, and M. Wang. 2019. The Polar Regions in a 2oC warmer world. Science Advances 2019; 5: eaaw9883

Andriuzzi, W. S., B. J. Adams, J. E. Barrett, R. A. Virginia, and D. H. Wall. 2018. Observed trends of soil fauna in the Antarctic Dry Valleys: early signs of shifts predicited under climate change. Ecology 99:312-321, DOI/10.1002/ecy.2090

Hansen, A. M. and R. A. Virginia. 2018. The future of hydrocarbon development in Greenland: Perspectives from residents of the North Slope of Alaska. ARCTIC 71(4):416-424,

Gooseff, M. N., J. E. Barrett, B. J. Adams, P. T. Doran, A. G. Fountain, W. B. Lyons, D. M. McKnight, J. C. Priscu, E. Sokol, C. Takacs-Vesbach, M. L. Vandegehuchte, R. A. Virginia, and D. H. Wall. Decadal ecosystem response to an anomalous melt season in a polar desert in Antarctica. Nature Ecology and Evolution (2017) doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0253-0

Heindel, R. C., L. E. Culler, and R. A. Virginia. Rates and processes of aeolian soil erosion in West Greenland. The Holocene (2017) 1-10, DOI: 10.1177/0959683616687381 

Virginia, R. A. 2017. The Arctic environment in the age of man. The Wilson Quarterly, Vol 41, No. 3, Summer 2017,

Bradley-Cook, J I, and R A Virginia. Soil carbon storage and respiration potential across an age and climate gradient in western Greenland. Polar Biology 39:1283-1295, (2016) DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1853-2

Fountain, A. G., G. Saba, S. Stammerjohn, B. Adams, P. Doran, W. Fraser, M. Gooseff, M. Obryk, J. Priscu, and R. A. Virginia.The role of a large-scale climate event on Antarctic ecosystem processes. BioScience 66:848-863 (2016)

Mikucki, J A, E Auken, S Tulacyzk, R A Virginia, C Schamper, K I Sorensen, P T Doran, H Dugan, and N Foley.  Deep groundwater and potential subsurface habitats beneath an Antarctic dy valley. Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6831, doi:10.1038/ncomms7831 (2015)

Ball, B A, C R Tellez, and R A Virginia. Penquin activity influences soil biogeochemistry and soil respiration in rookeries on Ross Island, Antarctica. Polar Biology 38:1357-1368 (2015) DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1699-7

Collins, J. F., M. Sfraga, R. A. Virginia, and K. S. Yalowitz. 2013. A Euro-Atlantic Action Plan for Cooperation and Enhanced Arctic Security. Conference Report and Recommendations to the Arctic Council and Interested Parties. February 11-12, 2013, Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, Washington, D. C. and the University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy

Virginia, R. A. and D. H. Wall. Ecosystem Function, Principles of.  In: Levin, S. A. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, second edition, Volume 3 (2013), pp. 90-95, Academic Press: Waltham MA

Levy L, M A Kelly, J A Howley, and R A Virginia. Age of the Ørkendalen moraines, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland: Constraints on the extent of the southwestern margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the Holocene, Quaternary Science Reviews 52 (2012) 1-5

Holm, L K, L A Grenoble, and R A Virginia. A Praxis for Ethical Research and Scientific Conduct in Greenland, Études/Inuit/Studies 35 (2011) 187-200

Virginia, R A, An Ecosystem Approach to Mountain Resorts in Mountain Resorts: Law and Ecology.  J E Milne, J LaMense and R A Virginia (eds.) Ashgate Press, (2009) 24-38

Chapin, F S III, M Berman, T V Callaghan, et al., “Polar Systems,” in Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Series, Vol. 1 , R Hassan, R Scholes and N Ash (eds.), (2005) 717-743

Brooks, R O, R T Jones, and R A Virginia. Law and Ecology: The Rise of the Ecosystem Regime. Ashgate Press (2002), 430pp.

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Works in progress

Dartmouth takes on US leadership of the NSF funded Joint Sceince Education Project (JSEP) joining students from the US, Denmark and Greenland for field study in Greenland. Award details. Story feating the Virtual JSEP 2020, 2021.

Beautiful video featuring JSEP and our climate change research in Greenland by Dartmouth Communications.



Selected works and activities

University of the Arctic Snowy Owl Series. In this short video I describe my research on climate change and the Arctic carbon cycle and give an overview of Dartmouth's Polar Environmental Change Graduate Program.

Discovery made below Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys. Video produced by the NSF to highlight results from our study reported in Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6831 doi:10.1038/ncomms7831

In the NEWS

Welcome to the State of Virginia, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine faculty profile, July/August 2012

Virginia Valley, Antarctica:  An upland valley E of Wall Valley in Olympus Range, located between the N part of Mount Electra on the W, and Mount Circe and Mount Dido on the E. The valley opens N to McKelvey Valley. Named by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) (2004) after Ross A. Virginia, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; U.S. Antarctic Project (USAP) soils biologist in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, 13 field seasons, 1989-2002.

77° 29' 00" S, 160° 56' 00" E

Facilitating increased engagement between the research communities of Greenland and the U.S. Workshop Report, August 27-28, 2019, Nuuk Greenland.  Wilson Center Greenland Dialogue webinar featuring this report.

Report urges action on Arctic protection by Dartmouth and its partners in the University of the Arctic Institute for Arctic Policy and the Carengie Endowment for International Peace.

America must act on the North and South Poles. The National Interest Op-Ed, September 11, 2018

How America can step up its role in the Arctic. The National Interest. April 20, 2015, Opinion Editorial

The U.S. and a Peaceful Arctic Future, The Hill, August 8, 2014

Hands Across the Melting Ice, NY Times OP-ED, May 13, 2013


Arctic health and wellness- A conference hosted by the Institute of Arctic Studies and the Fulbright Arctic Initiaitve, January 2016.

Lectures and Presentations