Dr Kurt Kipfmueller

Photo of Dr Kurt Kipfmueller

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Room 568 Soc Sci

267 19th Ave S

Kurt Kipfmueller is an Associate Professor of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. His research explores the intersection of climate variability and forest vegetation patterns, particularly with respect to disturbance regimes. He utilizes the information contained within the annual rings of trees to reconstruct and better understand variations in past environments. His work takes place in the Rockies, Pacific Northwest, and Upper Great Lakes. Born and raised in Michigan, Kurt has a passion for the Great Lakes and its forest communities. Kurt teaches courses in climate variability, biogeography, dendrochronology, and fire ecology. He is the 2010 winner of the Arthur "Red" Motley Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota and a 2017 recipient of the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • B.S.: Geography and Earth Science, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI, 1993.
  • M.A.: Geography, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 1997.
  • Ph.D.: Geography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 2003.


  • Biogeography
  • Climatology
  • Paleo-environments
  • Landscape ecology and natural disturbances
  • Dendrochronology
  • Climate Change
  • global change
  • forest dynamics
  • whitebark pine ecology
  • forest ecology
  • mountain pine beetles
  • physical geography
Courses Taught
  • GEOG 3431/5431 - Plant and Animal Geography
  • GEOG 1403 - Biogeography of the Global Garden
  • GEOG 1901 - Is Climate Really Changing? (Freshmen Seminar)
Research & Professional Activities


  • Collaborative Research: Seeking legacies of Ojibwe landuse in the fire regimes and vegetation communities of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: Fire history development in red pine forests of the BWCAW to assess the potential for anthropogenic impacts on fire regimes, July 2014 - July 2018
  • Kipfmueller, K.F., E.A. Schneider, S.A. Weyenberg, & L.B. Johnson. 2017. Historical drivers of a frequent fire regime in the red pine forests of Voyageurs National Park, MN, USA. Forest Ecology and Management, 405 (2017): 31-43.
  • Johnson, L.B., Johnson, L.R., Larson, E.R., and Kipfmueller, K.F. 2017. Culturally-modified red pine, birch-bark canoes, and the fur trade on Lake Saganaga, Minnesota, USA. Historical Archaeology, doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41636-018-0102-2
  • Johnson, L.B. & K.F. Kipfmueller. 2016. A Fire History Derived from Pinus resinosa Ait. for the Islands of Eastern Lac La Croix, Minnesota, USA. Ecological Applications, 26(4):1030–1046. Download· Image
  • Crawford, C.J., Griffin, D. & K.F. Kipfmueller. 2015. Capturing season-specific precipitation signals in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA using Douglas-fir earlywood and latewood tree rings. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 120: 428–440, doi: 10.1002/2014JG002740
  • Larson, E.R. and K.F. Kipfmueller. 2012. Ecological disaster or the limits of observation? Reconciling modern declines with the long-term dynamics of whitebark pine communities. Geography Compass, 6/4: 189-214.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F., Larson, E.R., and St. George, S. 2012. Does proxy uncertainty affect the relations inferred between the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and wildfire activity in the western United States? Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, L4703, doi: 10.1029/2011GL050645
  • Elliott, G.P. & Kipfmueller, K.F. 2011. Multi-Scale Influences of Climate on Upper Treeline Dynamics in the Southern Rocky Mountains, USA: Evidence of Intra-Regional Variability and Bioclimatic Thresholds in Response to 20th Century Climate. The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101(6): 1181–1203.
  • Elliott, G.P., and Kipfmueller, K.F. 2010. The multi-scale influences of topography and spatial pattern on ecotonal dynamics at upper treeline in the Southern Rocky Mountains, USA. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 42(1): 45–56.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F., G.P. Elliott, E.R. Larson, & M.W. Salzer. 2010. An assessment of the dendroclimatic characteristics of three conifer species in northern Minnesota. Tree-Ring Research, 66(2):113-126.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F., and Salzer, M.W. 2010. Linear trend and climate response of five-needle pines in the western United States related to treeline proximity. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 40(1): 131–142.
  • Larson, E.R., Kipfmueller, K.F., Hale, C.M., Frelich, L.E., & Reich, P.B. 2010. Tree Rings Detect Earthworm Invasions and their Effects in Northern Hardwood Forests. Biological Invasion, 12(5):1053–1056.
  • Salzer, M.W., Hughes, M.K., Bunn, A.G., and Kipfmueller, K.F. 2009. Recent unprecedented tree-ring growth in bristlecone pine at the highest elevations and possible causes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106:20348-20353.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F. 2008. Reconstructed temperature in a northern Rocky Mountains Wilderness. Quaternary Research, 70: 173–187.
  • Brunelle, A., C. Whitlock, P. Bartlein, & K.F. Kipfmueller. 2005. Holocene fire and vegetation along environmental gradients in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Quaternary Science Reviews, 24: 2281–2300.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F. & J.A. Kupfer. 2005. Complexity of successional pathways in subalpine forests of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, USA. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 95(3): 495–510.
  • Salzer, M.W., & K.F. Kipfmueller. 2005. Reconstructed temperature and precipitation on a millennial timescale from tree-rings in the Southern Colorado Plateau, USA. Climatic Change, 70: 465–487.
  • "Using Dendrochronology to Reconstruct the History of Ecosystems" in The Historical Ecology Handbook, ed. D. Egan and E. Howell: Kipfmueller, Kurt, T.W. Swetnam, Washington, DC: Island Press, The Historical Ecology Handbook, 199-228, 2001.
  • "Spatial Ecology of Pre-EuroAmerican Fires in a Southern Rocky Mountain Subalpine Forest Landscape.": Kipfmueller, Kurt, W. L. Baker, The Professional Geographer, 53 248-262, 2001.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F. & W.L. Baker. 2000. A fire history of a subalpine forest in southeastern Wyoming. Journal of Biogeography, 27 (1): 71–85.
  • Kipfmueller, K.F. & W.L. Baker. 1998. A comparison of three techniques to date stand-replacing fires in lodgepole pine forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 104: 171–177.
  • Horace T. Morse/University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education
  • Denali Award for Recent Achievement in Mountain Geography, Mountain Geography Specialty Group, Association of American Geographers, 2011
  • Arthur "Red" Motley Exemplary Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, 2010
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor, Supporting Women in Geography, 2008