George Hendrey

Distinguished Professor
Climate Change

Science Building - Room E 208
Phone: 718-997-3325

Research Interests
George Hendrey is currently Distinguished Professor, ESA-Certified Senior Ecologist, Director and Chair of the School of Earth and Environmental Science. He takes an engineering perspective into environmental research. Most recently, working with C. Yi, he established two tall, instrumented towers for eddy-covariance and vertical profile measurements in the Black Rock Forest of NY to study fluxes of CO2, H2O and energy in a forest ecosystem.  He has worked on limnological consequences of acid deposition and established multi-investigator limnology field labs in Norway, and the Adirondack Mountains of NY. Hendrey was Head of the Earth Systems Sciences Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory where he envisioned and led development of Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology that controlled the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in forest plots of hundreds of square meters with no walls or other containment. He coordinated activities of dozens of scientists working in the FACE facilities. George has authored or co-authored over 135 peer-reviewed publications, and 156 other contributions to science. As VP and CTO of COAWAY LLC he has been working on an industrial method for direct extraction of atmospheric CO2, a process that was selected as one of the finalists in the Virgin Earth Challenge.

Plant responses to CO2 enrichment: Much of what is known about global ecosystem responses to increasing atmospheric CO2 has been gained through Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiments of my design. All FACE experiments tend to underestimate ecosystem net primary production (NPP) that may occur at a particular increased concentration of CO2. This is because of the sensitivity of photosynthesis to rapid and poorly controlled variation in CO2 concentrations that are an inevitable result of the FACE technique. We are working on development of a NPP correction based on photosynthesis experiments in which CO2 is oscillated in a controlled way in a leaf chamber while measuring photosynthetic fluorescence.

Green roofs: A nearly 80% of the energy used to maintain New York City is consumed by space heating and cooling. Green building design, including “green roofs”, may have a number of benefits including improved energy efficiency. We are working on potential applications of green roofs on our campus.

Urban watersheds are very difficult to study from a mass-balance point of view because the hydrologic flows are modified by both exogenous inputs and drainage network outputs that do not conform to topographic watershed boundaries. We are developing a concept of an urban watershed laboratory in which a wide range of environmental variables may be studied, including atmospheric deposition, biogeochemistry, hydrology and the linkage of the watershed to the marine environment.

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching at Queens means providing a learning experience to students who have a wide range of interests and motivations and helping them gain both skills and wisdom needed to achieve their life goals. In the School of Earth and Environmental Science we provide opportunities for students to learn about Earth with its component parts operating as a system. My philosophy is that teaching of earth system science is a means to a larger end, that of learning to think critically. I strive to help students learn to think in a logical and fact-based way, to see that apparently impenetrably complex issues and systems are made of simpler components that can be understood, and to learn that doubt is fundamental to intellectual activity.

Courses taught

  • ENSCI040 Global Climate Change: Science, Policy, Economics
  • ENSCI112 Our Changing Planet: An Introduction to Earth System Science
  • ENSCI373 Environmental Problem Solving
  • ENSCI 399 Topics in Environmental Research
  • HNRS 225 Science and Technology in New York City
  • EES 767 Field Techniques in Environmental Science



Hendrey, G.R. 1987. Acidification and anadromous fish of Atlantic estuaries. Water Air Soil Pollut.20: 1-6.

Hendrey G.R., S.P. Long, I.F. McKee, and N.R. Baker. 1997. Can photosynthesis respond to short-term fluctuations in atmospheric carbon dioxide? Photosynthesis Research 51: 179-184. (BNL 62922).

Hendrey, G.R., D.S. Ellsworth, K.F. Lewin, and J. Nagy. 1999. A free-air CO2 enrichment system for exposing tall forest vegetation to elevated atmospheric CO2. Global Change Biology 5: 293-309.

Percy K.E, C.S. Awmack, R.L. Lindroth, M.E. Kubiski,B..J. Kopper, J.G. Isebrands, K.S. Pregitzer, G.R. Hendrey, R. E. Dickson, D.R. Zak, E. Oksanen, J. Sober, R. Harrington, & D. F. Karnosky. 2003. Altered performance of forest pests under CO2- and O3 - enriched atmospheres. Nature 420, 403 - 407.

Hendrey G.R. and Miglietta F. (2006) FACE technology: past, present and future. Chapter 2 in Nösberger J., Long S. P., Norby R. J., Stitt M., Hendrey G.R. and Blum H.Eds.: Managed Ecosystems and CO2: Case Studies, Processes and Perspectives. Ecological Studies 187, Springer 459 pp.

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