National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

Dr. Christopher Sabine

PMEL Director
Staff Affiliation: 
PMEL Division: 
Office of the Director
PMEL Project: 
Ocean Carbon

Meet the Director

Dr. Christopher Sabine has been with PMEL since 1999. Before becoming Laboratory Director in November 2011 he was a Supervisory Oceanographer in the PMEL Carbon Group. His research addresses the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle, in particular, centering on interpreting ocean inorganic carbon measurements and understanding ocean acidification.

He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Marine Science at Texas A&M University-Galveston before receiving his Ph.D. in Oceanography from University of Hawaii at Manoa in Hawaii in 1992.  Prior to joining PMEL Dr. Sabine was a Research Associate at Princeton University where he was actively involved in the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) programs making state of the art ocean carbon measurements. Dr. Sabine has participated in 29 research cruises (six as Chief Scientist) and published over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles on carbon cycling. He was lead author on a 2004 Science article presenting the first estimates of human-derived carbon distributions in the ocean based on inorganic carbon measurements. He was also among the first to publish scientific articles describing ocean acidification. 

Dr. Sabine has been a scientific advisor for several U.S. national carbon programs. He was a lead author of the 2011 A U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan, a national strategy for multi-agency global carbon cycle research for the next decade. He also helped develop the U.S. ocean acidification research agenda. He has participated in the development and steering of several international carbon cycle programs including: the Global Carbon Program (GCP), the Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) program, the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) program, the Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) and the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (IOCCP). Together these programs help direct and coordinate the large-scale research of over 2,000 scientists from more than 100 countries.


NOAA Administrator’s Award - 2014
AGU Fellow - 2013
Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Gustavus Adolphus College - 2012
NOAA Technology Transfer Award - 2011
Seattle FEB Public Service Award - 2010
NOAA Research Employee of the Year - 2009
NASA Group Achievement Award - 2009
NOAA/OAR Special Act Award, 2004, 2008
Special Recognition by IPCC when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore - 2007
NOAA employee of the month - 2007
Department of Commerce Gold Award - 2006
PMEL Outstanding Scientific Paper Award - 2005, 2008
NOAA/OAR Significant Achievement Award - 2003, 2004, 2005
NOAA Outstanding Scientific Paper award - 2002, 2005, 2009

Thesis Advisor (4 total) and Postgraduate-Scholar Sponsor (2 total)

Katherine Fagan (PhD 2011, Univ. of Washington); Andrea Fassbender (M.S., 2010; PhD, 2014, Univ. of Washington); Gwenn Hennon (current PhD student, Univ. of Washington); Nancy Williams (M.S., 2014, Univ. of Washington); Laurie Juranek (NRC postdoc, 2011-2012); Adrienne Sutton (NRC postdoc, 2012).