Professor Dev Niyogi

Research Background and Synergies

My research deals with the understanding and representation of the effects of vegetation – land surface processes in environmental processes at different scales. I am one of the three invited, non-federal representatives to the community modeling effort of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model working group on Land Surface Models, and to the Federal Geophysical Data Commission (FGDC) Spatial ClimateWorking Group.

The research activities are based on the synthesis of field observations and modeling analysis, for process studies, hypothesis – driven experimentation, and applications of the model results for interdisciplinary climate change problems. The research improves the understanding of the effect of environmental changes on the plant and landsurface response and the representation of the land surface processes in models for understanding the nonlinear feedback between plant and landsurface changes on regional scale environmental processes. Past and ongoing research is largely federally funded through a variety of competitive research grants through NSF, NASA, NOAA, and USDA NRI CGP. I have authored or co-authored 25 successful proposals for external grants totaling over $3M. I vertically integrate undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers in my research and am very interdisciplinary in developing collaborative projects.

A list of peer reviewed publications resulting from my research is available in the publications section. Five papers I have co-authored have received good recognition in the popular press following a NASA Earth System Science press release, Associated Press releases, and three more published papers have been highlighted by the American Geophysical Union in its proceedings Eos as feature articles. All the papers can be found at

My overall research activities are targeted towards: (a) developing and evaluating process scale models for better representation of leaf and canopy scale processes; (b) testing and applying these models for regional studies; and (c) using statistical-dynamical approaches for assessing the coupling between the various land surface components for weather, air quality, and climate studies.

My current research projects are in following areas: Land Surface Process Modeling, Satellite Data Assimilation, Terrestrial Ecosystem and Atmosphere, Land Atmosphere Interactions, Agricultural Air Quality, Carbon and Hydrological Cycle, Biospheric Processes in Weather and Regional Climate Models, Integrating Isotopic and Dynamical Models, and Synthesis of Multiscale/Multisensor Remote and Land based Observational Systems.

The specific objectives of this research are based on the systematic investigation of five questions from leaf/ canopy, to landscape, to regional and continental scales:

1) What do field observations from insitu and remote sensed datasets reveal about the effect of environmental changes such as radiation, temperature, humidity, and soil moisture on plant response such as evapotranspiration, photosynthesis, and productivity?

2) What is the ability of the different modeling systems and leaf and canopy scale models for simulating the observed environmental response on the plant scale, and what improvements are needed to represent the processes more accurately?

3) What is the impact of incorporating improvements in the terrestrial biosphere processes and enhanced landuse/land cover scaling within land surface models on the dynamical predictions of the environmental and weather/climate processes such as convection, precipitation, and surface moisture at regional scales?

4) What is the effect of landuse/land cover changes (such as urbanization) on the regional water cycle components such as precipitation and evaporation/transpiration?

5) What is the relative role and impact of local to regional scale land surface representation versus large-scale changes due to greenhouse gases and sea surface temperature changes and atmospheric radiative changes on the regional and global climate variability?

The research improves the understanding of the environmental changes on terrestrial biosphere and the representation of the biosphere – atmosphere interactions in regional scale models of environmental, weather and climate systems. The research seeks to understand the processes affecting land surface processes at regional scales and has an applied component which seeks to improve the accuracy of these models by representing correct feedbacks between land and the atmosphere and by incorporating in-situ and remote sensing information coupled with a hierarchy of modeling systems.

A highlighted feature of my work is to assess the impact of land surface heterogeneity on severe weather systems and the Indian Monsoon region. I look forward to synergizing the interactions by using collaborations to advance scientific discoveries, and improvements in modeling systems. This will be interwoven along the theme of improving land surface processes and their representation in micro, meso and regional scale models and further contribute to enhance the reputation of the department and the university.

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