Associate professor, principal researcher
+46 8 674 77 06
- Earth system science
- Integrative methods
- Global governance
- Environmental policy
Sarah Cornell's research focuses on global sustainability. She coordinates SRC’s research and international collaborations on Earth resilience
Cornell leads a transdisciplinary team of researchers who aim to characterize the global ‘safe operating space for humanity’ in applicable ways, and is active in the growing international community of researchers advancing planetary boundaries science together with practitioners who use the framework. She also contributes to the science-policy interface work of SwedBio.
Cornell has a research background in marine and atmospheric chemistry. She obtained her PhD in 1996 from the University of East Anglia, UK, where she did postdoctoral research on the global nitrogen cycle before moving into transdisciplinary sustainability research. She worked on integrated approaches to environmental management, mainly of wetlands and coastal zones. Later she turned to issues of global environmental change and sustainability.
She has combined her own research with international science coordination for several years, helping bridge various knowledge communities in environmental change science. And she has occasionally worked as a sustainability consultant, on issues ranging from local participatory processes for community planning up to global environmental risks.
Cornell is involved in several forums where science interfaces with policy, business and wider society. She has served as a trustee and vice president of the international Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, a learned society and membership body for all marine professionals. She co-chairs the executive committee of IHOPE (Integrated History and Future of People on Earth), a Future Earth project. She is associate editor for the journal Environmental Science & Policy, and an editorial advisory board member of the Journal of Critical Realism.
She teaches Challenges of the Anthropocene, an introduction to global change science and policy, in the SRC Master’s programme.
Throughout her career Cornell has championed university, national and EU initiatives to support women, working parents, and contract research staff working in science.
Awards and achievements:
- Contributing author and expert reviewer for IPCC Working Group II
David Collste, PhD candidate
Celinda Palm, PhD candidate
Victoria Bignet, PhD candidate
Arne Tobian, PhD candidate
Personal website: www.sarahcornell.org
News articles with Cornell, Sarah
Research news | 2022-10-24
What is the future of synthetic chemicals and GMOs in sustainable food systems?
Synthetic chemicals and GMOs can lead to lock-ins and surprises in food systems that must be navigated in transformations to sustainability
Research news | 2022-09-08
World at risk of passing multiple climate tipping points above 1.5°C global warming
Human emissions have already pushed Earth into the danger zone. Five of sixteen identified tipping point may be triggered at today’s temperatures
Research news | 2022-04-26
Freshwater boundary exceeds safe limits
New assessment reveals dramatic changes to the global water cycle, with parts of the Amazon drying out
Research news | 2022-02-25
Why it’s time we change the way we debate science
New study suggests three ways to change how researchers interact in order to increase science’s capacity to inform sustainable decisions
Publications by Cornell, Sarah
A planetary boundary for green water
Journal / article | 2022
Green water — terrestrial precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture — is fundamental to Earth system dynamics and is now extensively perturbed by human pressures at continental to planetary scales. However, green water lacks explicit consideration in the existing planetary boundaries framework that demarcates a global safe operating space for humanity. In this Perspective, we propose a green water planetary boundary and es...
Defining a sustainable development target space for 2030 and 2050
Journal / article | 2022
With the establishment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), countries worldwide agreed to a prosperous, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable future for all. This ambition, however, exposes a critical gap in science-based insights, namely on how to achieve the 17 SDGs simultaneously. Quantitative goal-seeking scenario studies could help explore the needed systems' transformations. This requires a clear de...
Human well-being in the Anthropocene: limits to growth
Journal / article | 2021
Transformation of the world towards sustainability in line with the 2030 Agenda requires progress on multiple dimensions of human well-being. We track development of relevant indicators for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1–7 against gross domestic product (GDP) per person in seven world regions and the world as a whole. Across the regions, we find uniform development patterns where SDGs 1–7 – and therefore main human nee...
Resolving ecological feedbacks on the ocean carbon sink in Earth system models
Journal / article | 2021
The Earth's oceans are one of the largest sinks in the Earth system for anthropogenic CO2 emissions, acting as a negative feedback on climate change. Earth system models project that climate change will lead to a weakening ocean carbon uptake rate as warm water holds less dissolved CO2 and as biological productivity declines. However, most Earth system models do not incorporate the impact of warming on bacterial remineralisati...