Radiocarbon Collaborative

The Radiocarbon Collaborative is dedicated to advancing climate and carbon cycle science by making radiocarbon analysis accessible, decipherable, and collaborative.


The Radiocarbon Collaborative assists researchers in the application of radiocarbon analysis to a wide array of scientific investigations. We generally apply radiocarbon analysis to questions regarding how carbon is cycled and stabilized in ecosystems, and how land management and climate change may influence these processes. These projects include permafrost loss, blue carbon, peatland warming, harvest impacts on soil, and bioenergy cropping systems among others. We also provide traditional artifact dating for archaeologists at the USFS Heritage Program and dendrochronology for ecologists studying threatened tree species. We assist researchers from all backgrounds and levels with projects as small as a single bone to investigations as large as a global survey of tropical peatland accumulation rates.

Kate, viewed through rig in radiocarbon lab



In 2020, the Radiocarbon Collaborative: 

photo of container of liquid nitrogen
  • Completed radiocarbon measurements for soil profiles from 40 National Ecological Observatory Network sites across the conterminous US and Alaska. These data will be crucial to assessing differences in how carbon is stored and cycled in soils across different ecodomains.
  • Initiated a global-scale radiocarbon survey of tropical peatlands to assess long term accumulation rates in these systems. This information will lend insight into climate and land use influences on peat accumulation or loss in these understudied systems.
  • Joined the pika research community in the US and began our fifth and sixth projects centered on understanding climate change effects on American pika extirpation rates.
  • Expanded our laboratory space and began work on a new gas handling line to allow for the analysis of radiocarbon in atmospheric samples, including from soil respiration and eddy covariance towers, which measure gas exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere.

"Thank you cannot even begin to cover it, but I’ll start there - thank you! I am very grateful."

- PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin Madison



We look forward to continuing our partnerships with Forest Service researchers, university partners, and state agencies. We will continue our work assisting scientists evaluating accumulation rates and losses in mangroves and peatlands of tropical regions. Next year, we will also begin a 2-year study in collaboration with Oregon State University assessing forest management impacts on soil carbon stocks and turnover. We hope to bring our air extraction line into operation to begin assessing radiocarbon content of soil-respired carbon dioxide from the National Ecological Observation Network (NEON) sites.


2020 Fast Facts

680 radiocarbon targets produced

560 radiocarbon unknowns processed

9 new partner projects

Current projects - 22 soil carbon persistence, 14 peatlands, 11 ecology, 10 fire dynamics, 6 wildlife conservation, 5 permafrost, 5 heritage program (archaeology)