Ross A. Virginia

Academic Appointments
  • Director, Institute of Arctic Studies, Dickey Center

  • Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science

  • Professor of Environmental Studies

  • Adjunct Professor of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences

  • Distinguished Co-Lead Scholar, Fulbright Arctic Initiative 2015-16, 2017-19

  • Global Fellow, Polar Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

  • Fellow, The Explorers Club

Connect with Us

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 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 am excited 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


  • 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

  • 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 

  • 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

  • Heindel, R C, J W Chipman, and R A Virginia. The spatial distribution and ecological impacts of aeolian soil erosion in Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland. Annals fo the Association of American Geographers (2015) 105(5):875-890, DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2015.1059176  Press release

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Works In Progress

Selected Works & Activities

In the NEWS

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

Climate change in Antatarctic's desert invovles breathing microbes too. Nature World News, July 2, 2015.

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

Dartmouth Now story. In a recently co-authored editorial in The National Interest and in a published report following meetings with Arctic experts and governmental and NGO representatives, Virginia and his colleagues detail a number of issues the Arctic Council should address.  April 23, 2015

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

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

Report urges action on Arctic protection. Dartmouth and its partners in the University of the Arctic Institute for Arctic Policy and the Carengie Endowment for International Peace have issued a report urging the adoption of new shipping rules, improved safeguards against oil spills, and the creation of environmental and safety standards in polar waters. May 2013.

CNN Digitial Life Podcast on Arctic Science Summit Week hosted by Dartmouth at the start of the International Polar Year, 2007.

Lectures and Presentations