Tenure-Track Faculty

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Amy Townsend-Small

Amy Townsend-Small

Title: Associate Professor
Office: 605 Geology-Physics Building
Tel: 513-556-3762


  • Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 2006 (Marine Science).
  • B.A., Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, 1998 (Biology [Environmental Science] and English [Literature]).


Research Areas: Global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and water; carbon cycle-climate change feedbacks; energy production and greenhouse gas emissions; stable isotopes and radiocarbon dating

My current research explores the sources and fluxes of methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas. My group is investigating whether the transition from oil and coal to natural gas as an energy resource will result in increased emissions of methane, with ongoing research in Ohio, Texas, and Colorado, as well as whether climate warming and changing hydrology could enhance methane emissions from lakes, with ongoing research in Lake Erie and the Arctic. My approach includes measurement of carbon and hydrogen stable isotopes as methane source indicators. Explore my publications.

Courses Taught

  • EVST/GEOL 2025: Hydrology and Biogeochemistry
  • EVST/GEOL 6035: Carbon Cycling and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Selected Publications

  • *Marrero JE, A Townsend-Small, DR Lyon, T Tsai, S Meinardi, and DR Blake. 2016. Estimating emissions of toxic hydrocarbons from natural gas production sites in the Barnett Shale region of northern Texas. Environmental Science & Technology. doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b02827.
  • Townsend-Small A, *DA Disbennett, *JM Fernandez, *RW Ransohoff, R Mackay, and R Bourbonniere. 2016. Quantifying emissions of methane derived from anaerobic organic matter respiration and natural gas extraction in Lake Erie. Limnology and Oceanography. doi:10.1002/lno10273.
  • Townsend-Small A, TW Ferrara, DR Lyon, *AE Fries, and BK Lamb. 2016. Emissions of coalbed and natural gas methane from abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 43: 2283-2290, doi:10.1002/2015GL067623.
  • Hinkel KM, C Arp, A Townsend-Small, and K Frey. 2016. Can deep groundwater influx be detected from the geochemistry of thermokarst lakes in Arctic Alaska? Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. doi:10.1002/ppp.1895.
  • *Kolbe SE, AI Miller, A Townsend-Small, TM Culley, and GN Cameron. 2016. Impact of land-use history and forest trees on soil organic carbon and nitrogen stocks. Soil Science Society of America Journal. doi:10.2136/sssaj2015.12.0426.
  • Townsend-Small, A., Marrero, J. E., Lyon, D. R., Simpson, I. J., Meinardi, S., & Blake, D. R. (2015). Integrating source apportionment tracers into a bottom-up inventory of methane emissions in the Barnett Shale hydraulic fracturing region. Environmental science & technology49(13), 8175-8182.
  • Townsend‐Small, A., Prokopenko, M. G., & Berelson, W. M. (2014). Nitrous oxide cycling in the water column and sediments of the oxygen minimum zone, eastern subtropical North Pacific, Southern California, and Northern Mexico (23° N–34° N). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans119(5), 3158-3170.

Awards and Honors

  • Invited Speaker, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, (2011-2014)
  • Excellence in Faculty Research Award, Department of Geography, 2012.
  • Science and Community Award, Ohio Environmental Council, 2014.
  • University of Texas Continuing Fellowship, 2005 to 2006.
  • P.E.O. Scholar Award for female doctoral candidates, 2005 to 2006.