Simon Donner


Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Department of Geography

Degrees: PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.E.M, Duke University
B.Arts.Sc. McMaster University

Contact Information

Office phone: 604-822-6959
Office location: Department of Geography,
1984 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia
WebsitesClimate and Coastal Ecosystem Lab , Maribo
Twitter: @simondonner

Research Unit

Climate and Coastal Ecosystem Lab
Ocean Leaders

Research Interests

Why does climate matter? This question is the basis of a broad program of field and model research at the interface of climate science, marine science, and public policy. This research provides insight into the causes and effects of human-induced climate change, the efficacy of policy and mitigation options, and the consequences for human welfare. Current areas of research include climate change and coral reefs; ocean warming and El Nino; climate change adaptation in the developing world; Canadian and international climate policy; public engagement on climate change. I’m also the director of UBC’s new “Ocean Leaders” program, which provides young researchers with the skills to address tomorrow’s interdisciplinary ocean and climate challenges.


I grew up in the diverse city of Toronto where even in the dead of winter, I was often packed in a baby carriage and left outside to sleep. Since then, I have been interested in the human, societal, and environmental impacts of climate and climate change. Today I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia in beautiful, damp Vancouver, as well as an associate in UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues, The Biodiversity Research Centre, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES), the Atmospheric Sciences Program, and very possibly seventeen other programs I am forgetting.

I came to UBC after a few years in the Science, Technology and Environment Program in the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and working on some international projects. Before that, I spent my undergraduate days in the terrific interdisciplinary Arts and Science Programme at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario learning just enough philosophy to make the rest of life difficult. I also did a master’s degree in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University where like most transplants to North Carolina I conducted research on lake ice. After a break from academe, I moved to the land-locked island of Madison, Wisconsin to do a PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin with the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.


GEOB 102 Our Changing Planet: Climate and Ecosystems
GEOG 312 Climate Change Science and Society
GEOB 400 Global Biogeochemistry

Selected Publications

Google Scholar

DONNER, S.D., KANDLIKAR, M. and WEBBER, S. 2016 ‘Measuring and tracking the flow of climate change adaptation aid to the developing world’ Environmental Research Letters 11(5), 054006 DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054006

BUGLASS, S., DONNER, S.D. and ALEMU, J.I. 2016 ‘A study on the recovery of Tobago’s coral reefs following the 2010 mass bleaching event’ Marine Pollution Bulletin 104(1-2), 198-206 DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.01.038

DONNER, S.D. 2015 ‘The legacy of migration in response to climate stress: learning from the Gilbertese resettlement in the Solomon Islands’ Natural Resources Forum 39:191-201 DOI 10.1111/1477-8947.12082

LEONG, D.N.S. and DONNER, S.D. 2015 ‘Climate change impacts on streamflow availability for the Athabasca Oil Sands’ Climatic Change 133(4), 651-663 DOI 10.1007/s10584-015-1479-y

DONNER, S.D. 2014 ‘Finding your place on the Science-Advocacy continuum’ Climatic Change 124(1-2), 1–8 DOI 10.1007/s10584-014-1108-1

BANHOLZER, S. and DONNER, S.D. 2014 ‘The influence of different El Niño types on global average temperature’ Geophysical Research Letters 41(6), 2093–2099 DOI 10.1002/2014GL059520

DONNER, S.D. and WEBBER, S. 2014 ‘Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of sea-level rise and coastal protection measures in Kiribati’ Sustainability Science 9(3), 331-345 DOI 10.1007/s11625-014-0242-z

DONNER, S.D. and MCDANIELS, J. 2013 ‘The influence of national temperature fluctuations on opinions about climate change in the U.S. since 1990’ Climatic Change 118(3-4), 537-550 DOI 10.1007/s10584-012-0690-3

DONNER, S.D. 2012 ‘Sea Level Rise and the Ongoing Battle of Tarawa’ EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 93(17), 169-70 DOI 10.1029/2012EO170001

CARILLI, J., DONNER, S.D. and HARTMANN, A. 2012 ‘Historical Temperature Variability Affects Coral Response to Heat Stress’ PLoS-One 7(3), e34418 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0034418

DONNER, S.D., KANDLIKAR, M. and ZERRIFFI, H. 2011 ‘Preparing to manage climate change financing’ Science 334, 908-909 DOI 10.1126/science.1211886

DONNER, S.D. 2011 ‘Making the climate a part of the human world’ Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 92(10), 1297-1302 DOI 10.1175/2011BAMS3219.1

DONNER, S.D. 2011 ‘An evaluation of the effect of recent temperature variability on the prediction of coral bleaching events’ Ecological Applications 21(5), 1718–1730 DOI 10.1890/10-0107.1

DONNER, S.D. 2009 ‘Coping with Commitment: Projected thermal stress on coral reefs under different future scenarios’PLoS ONE 4 (6), e5712, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005712

DONNER, S.D., KUCHARIK C.J. (2008) ‘Corn-based ethanol production compromises goal of reducing nitrogen export by the Mississippi River’. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (11), 4513–4518, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0708300105

DONNER SD, KNUTSON TR, OPPENHEIMER M (2007) ‘Model-based assessment of the role of human-induced climate change in the 2005 Caribbean coral bleaching event’. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104 (13), 5483-5488, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0610122104