The SFS Center for Climate Studies


Patagonia is a stage for true wild. Towering pinnacles clash with rivers of ice, and life persists here in the face of challenging seasonal extremes. Penguins, foxes, sea lions, and guanaco are just a few of the region’s hardy wildlife. Situated in the Ring of Fire, Patagonia’s stunning, snow-covered volcanic range presents an unmatched opportunity to study complex geological and seismic processes.

The fragile ecosystems of southern Chile and Argentina are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – unpredictable storms, glacial melt, shifting temperatures, fires, and droughts. Our research in Patagonia examines ecology and geologic systems, the motivations and trade-offs of conservation decisions in the region, and species found nowhere else on the planet.



Wild Patagonia: Fire and Ice

Spend a semester amid the soaring peaks, massive glaciers, and narrow fjords of Patagonia, where the trails of Torres del Paine National Park become your classroom for research and field work. Embark on expeditions to the southernmost tip of South America and the volcanic lakes region of northern Patagonia to study climate change impacts, diverse ecosystems, and conservation in one of the world’s most iconic regions.
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15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2019

Sep 9 - Dec 18


Spring 2020

Jan 27 - May 6

Filling Fast

Life In The Field

Surrounded by the jagged peaks of Cerro Benítez and the deep blue waters of the Señoret Channel lies the port city of Puerto Natales – the gateway to the famous Torres del Paine National Park. Located in this bustling tourist hub is the Center for Climate Studies, your home base for expeditions throughout the region.

  • Dorm living with 4-person bunkrooms
  • Classroom and study spaces
  • Kitchen and dining hall, on-site cooking staff
  • Nearby hiking trails and running routes
  • Steps away from the town square, shops, and cafes of Puerto Natales
  • Short walk to the Señoret Channel, a scenic fjord with views of the Andes
Click here to read the stories from students, staff and faculty in the field

The wind owns Patagonia. Everything here knows it. The rocks weather, the ice sculpts, the forests stunt, and the animals adapt or die. The people of Patagonia battle the constant force with fortitude and heart. Existing at the bottom of the world certainly isn’t easy. Our research won’t be easy either. But that’s why we need to be here.

Mark Seifert, Ph.D.
SFS Dean of Academic Programs


The research agenda at the SFS Center for Climate Studies mirrors the goals of the Chilean government’s 2017 national plan on climate change. This plan identifies four themes for action: adaptation, mitigation, means of implementation, and climate change management on the regional and communal levels. Students will work with these communities, NGOs and local landholders to measure and observe vulnerable ecosystems and communities as Patagonian climatic conditions continue to change.

Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Climate change resilience
  • Glacial dynamics
  • Ecological succession
  • Penguin behavior
  • Coastal and alpine ecology
  • National park management

Environmental Issues

Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In Chile, we will be investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Land Use Change
Tourism Impacts
Natural Resource & Water Management
Sustainable Livelihoods
Learn More About the Issues


The Local Community

SFS is new to the Puerto Natales community in Southern Patagonia but will quickly become an active part of the community. During the program, students participate in community volunteer projects including environmental awareness in local schools, attend area festivals, assist in local conservation projects, and play sports with the locals. SFS research data will be made available to the local communities and Chilean government.