Nathaniel Brunsell

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Geography and Atmospheric Science
Chair, Geography
Primary office:
Lindley Hall
Room 214A
University of Kansas
1475 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7613

Land-atmosphere interactions, remote sensing, micrometeorology. Research on the spatial and temporal variability of water, carbon, and energy cycling.  Please visit my website.


ATMO/GEOG 731 - Land-Atmosphere Interactions

ATMO 731 - Atmospheric Turbulence

ATMO/GEOG 521- Microclimatology

ATMO 680 - Physical Meteorology

ATMO 642 - Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere

Research Interests

  • Biometeorology
  • Scaling processes from leaf to pixel
  • Remote sensing of the surface energy balance
  • Turbulence measurements using large aperture scintillometry and eddy covariance
  • Ecological consequences of regional climate change
  • Surface-precipitation feedbacks
  • Implications of regional climate change on extreme value statistics
  • Application of non-linear time series analysis to meteorological datasets
  • Renewable energy

Selected Publications

Gerken, T. Ruddell, B. Fuentes, J. D., Arujo, A. Brunsell, N. A., Maia, J. Nasciemento dos Santos, R. von Randow, C. & Stoy, P. C. (in press). Investigating the mechanisms responsible for the lack of surface energy balance closure in a central Amazonian tropical rainforest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.

de Oliveira, G. Brunsell, N. A., Sutherlin, C. E., Crews, T. E., & de Haan, L. R. (2018). Energy, water and carbon exchange over a perennial Kernza wheatgrass crop. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 249, 120-137.

Vico, G. & Brunsell, N. A. (2018). Tradeoffs between water requirements and yield stability in annual vs. perennial crops. Advances in Water Resources, 112, 189-202.

Cochran, F. V., & Brunsell, N. A. (in press). Biophysical Metrics for Detecting More Sustainable Urban Forms at the Global Scale. International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment.

Wagle, P. Xiao, X. Gowda, P. Basara, J. Brunsell, N. A., Steiner, J. & Anup, K. C. (2017). Analysis and estimation of tallgrass prairie evapotranspiration in the central United States. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 232, 34-47.

Brunsell, N. A., van Vleck, E. S., Nosshi, M. Ratajczak, Z. & Nippert, J. B. (2017). Assessing the roles of fire frequency and precipitation in determining woody encroachment in central U.S. grasslands. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 122, 2683-2698, doi:10.1002/2017JG004046.

Vargas, R. Alcaraz-Segura, D. Birdsey, R. Brunsell, N. A., Cruz-Gaistardo, C. O., de Jong, B. Etchevers, J. Guevara, M. Hayes, D. J., Johnson, K. Loescher, H. W., Paz, F. Ryu, Y. Sanchez, Z. & Toledo-Gutierrez, K. P. (2017). Enhancing interoperability to facilitate implementation of REDD+: case study of Mexico. Carbon Management, 10(491).

de Oliveira, G. Brunsell, N. A., Moraes, E. C., Shimabukuro, Y. E., Bertani, G. dos Santos, T. V., & Aragao, L. C. (2017). Evaluation of MODIS-based estimates of water-use efficiency in Amazonia. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 38, 5291-5309, 10.1080/01431161.2017.1339924.

de Oliveira, G. Moraes, E. C., Brunsell, N. A., Shimabukuro, Y. E., Aragao, L. E., Mataveli, G. A., & dos Santos, T. V. (2016). Analysis of Precipitation and Evapotranspiration in Atlantic Rainforest Remnants in Southeastern Brazil from Remote Sensing Data. In J. A Blanco (Ed.), Tropical Forests - The Challenges of Maintaining Ecosystem Services while Managing the Landscape (pp. 93-112). InTech - Open Science. DOI:

Ratajczak, Z. D'Odorico, P. Nippert, J. B., Collins, S. L., Brunsell, N. A., & Ravi, S. (2016). Changes in spatial variance during a grassland to scrubland state transition. Journal of Ecology. DOI:10.1111/1365-2745.12696

Figueiredo, G. A., Brunsell, N. A., Higa, B. H., Rocha, J. V., & Lamparelli, R. C. (2016). Correlation maps to assess soybean yield from EVI data in Parana state, Brazil. Scientia Agricola, 73(5), 462-470.

Hufkens, K. Keenan, T. F., Flanagan, L. B., Scott, R. Bernacchi, C. J., Joo, E. Brunsell, N. A., Verfaillie, J. & Richardson, A. D. (2016). Despite increasing aridity, climate change promotes growth of North American grasslands. Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2942. DOI:10.1038/NCLIMATE2942

Eck, D. Qin, M. Hirmas, D. Gimenez, D. & Brunsell, N. A. (2016). Relating quantitative soil structure metrics to saturated hydraulic conductivity. Vadose Zone Journal, 15(1), 10.2136/vzj2015.05.0083.

Petrie, M. D., Brunsell, N. A., Vargas, R. Collins, S. L., Flannagan, L. B., Hanan, N. P., Litvak, M. E., & Sukyer, A. E. (2016). The sensitivity of carbon exchanges in Great Plains grasslands to precipitation variability. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 121, doi:10.1002/2015JG003205.

Cochran, F. Brunsell, N. & Sukyer, A. (2016). Thermodynamic entropy production as a measure of agroecosystem sustainability. Ecological Indicators, 67, 204-214.

de Oliveira, G. Brunsell, N. A., Moraes, E. C., Bertani, G. dos Santos, T. V., Shimabukuro, Y. E., & Aragao, L. E. (2016). Use of MODIS Sensor Images Combined with Reanalysis Products to Retrieve Net Radiation in Amazonia. Sensors, 16, doi:10.3390/s16070956.

Figueiredo, G. A., Brunsell, N. A., Rocha, J. V., & Lamparelli, R. A. (2016). Using temporal stability to estimate soybean yield. A case study in Parana state, Brazil. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 10.1080/01431161.2016.1148280.

Wolf, S. Keenan, T. F., Fisher, J. B., Baldocchi, D. D., Desai, A. R., Richardson, A. D., Scott, R. L., Law, B. E., Litvak, M. E., Brunsell, N. A., Peters, W. & van der Laan-Luijkx, I. T. (2016). Warm spring reduced carbon cycle impact of the 2012 US summer drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 10.1073/pnas.1519620113.

Hu, L. & Brunsell, N. (2015). A new perspective to assess the urban heat island through remotely sensed atmospheric profiles. Remote Sensing of Environment, 158, 393-406/

Wagle, P. Xiao, X. Scott, R. Kolb, T. Cook, D. Brunsell, N. A., Baldocchi, D. Basara, J. Matamala, R. Zhou, Y. & Bajgain, R. (2015). Biophysical Controls on Carbon and Water Budgets across a Grassland Climatic Gradient in the United States. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 214-215, 293-305.

El Kenawy, A. Lopez-Moreno, J. I., McCabe, M. F., Brunsell, N. A., & Vicente-Serrano, S. M. (2015). Daily Temperature Changes and Variability in ENSEMBLES Regional Models Predictions: Evaluation and Intercomparison for the Ebro Valley (NE Iberia). Atmospheric Research, 155, 141-157.

Cochran, F. V., Brunsell, N. A., Cabalzar, A. van der Veld, P. Azevedo, E. Pedrosa, R. A., & Winegar, L. J. (2015). Indigenous ecological calendars define scales for climate change and sustainability assessments. Sustainability Science, 10.1007/s11625-015-0303-y.

Logan, K. E., & Brunsell, N. A. (2015). Influence of drought on growing season carbon and water cycling with changing land cover. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 213, 217-225.

Oleson, K. W., Monaghan, A. Barlage, M. Brunsell, N. A., Feddema, J. Hu, L. Wilhelmi, O. & Steinhoff, D. F. (2015). Interactions between urbanization, heat stress, and climate change . Climatic Change, 129, 10.1007/s10584-013-0936-8.

Hu, L. Monaghan, A. J., & Brunsell, N. A. (2015). Investigation of urban air temperature and humidity patterns during extreme heat conditions using satellite-derived data. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 54(11), doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-15-0051.1.

Miller, L. Brunsell, N. A., Mechem, D. B., Gans, F. Monaghan, A. J., Vautard, R. Keith, D. W., & Kleidon, A. (2015). Two methods for estimating limits to large-scale wind power generation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1408251112

Shi, Z. Thomey, M. L., Mowll, W. Litvak, M. Brunsell, N. A., Collins, S. L., Pockman, W. T., Smith, M. D., Knapp, A. K., & Luo, Y. (2014). Differential effects of extreme drought on production and respiration: Synthesis and modeling analysis. Biogeosciences, 11, 621-633.

Huber, D. B., Mechem, D. B., & Brunsell, N. A. (2014). Effects of Great Plains irrigation on regional climate . Climate, 2, 103-128.

Brown, J. C., Hanley, E. Bergtold, J. Caldas, M. Barve, V. Peterson, D. Callihan, R. Gibson, J. Gray, B. Hendricks, N. Brunsell, N. Dobbs, K. & Earnhart, D. (2014). Ethanol plant location and intensification vs. extensification of corn cropping in Kansas. Applied Geography, 53, 141-148.

Monaghan, A. J., Hu, L. Brunsell, N. A., Barlage, M. & Wilhelmi, O. V. (2014). Evaluating the impact of urban morphology configurations on the accuracy of urban canopy model temperature simulations with MODIS: Validating urban simulations with MODIS. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres [2169897X], 119(11), 6376–6392. DOI:10.1002/2013JD021227

Barve, N. Martin, C. Brunsell, N. A., & Peterson, A. T. (2014). Exploration of physiological optima in shaping the geographic distribution of Spanish Moss. Global Ecology and Biogeography , 23, 633-645.

Hu, L. Brunsell, N. Monahan, A. J., Barlage, M. & Wilhelmi, O. V. (2014). How can we use MODIS land surface temperature to validate long-term urban model simulations? Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 119, 3185–3201.

Brunsell, N. A., Nippert, J. B., & Buck, T. L. (2014). Impacts of seasonality and surface heterogeneity on water-use efficiency in mesic grasslands. Ecohydrology , 7, 1223–1233. DOI:10.1002/eco.1455

Brunsell, N. A., & Hu, L. (2013). The role of scale in determining surface energy fluxes from remote sensing . In G. Petropoulos (Ed.), Remote Sensing of Land Surface Turbulent Fluxes and Soil Surface moisture Content: State of the Art (pp. 283-300). CRC Press.

El Kenawy, A. Lopez-Moreno, J. I., Brunsell, N. A., & Vicente-Serrano, S. M. (2013). Anomalously severe cold nights and warm days in northeast Spain: their spatial variability, driving forces and future projections. Global and Planetary Change, 101, 12-32.

Ruddell, B. L., Brunsell, N. A., & Stoy, P. (2013). Applying information theory in the geosciences to quantify process uncertainty, feedback, scale. Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union, 94(5), 56. DOI:10.1002/2013EO050007

Lin, P. & Brunsell, N. A. (2013). Assessing regional climate and local landcover impacts on vegetation with remote sensing. Remote Sensing , 5, 4347-4369.

Cochran, F. V., Brunsell, N. A., & Mechem, D. B. (2013). Comparing surface and mid-troposphere CO2 concentration from central U.S. grasslands. Entropy, 15, 1324-1341.

Campbell, P. K., Middleton, E. Thome, K. J., Kokaly, R. F., Huemmrich, K. F., Lagomasino, D. Novik, K. & Brunsell, N. A. (2013). EO-1 Hyperion reflectance time series at calibration and validation sites: Stability and sensitivity to seasonal dynamics . IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing , 6, 276-290.

Brunsell, N. A., & Wilson, C. J. (2013). Multiscale controls on water and carbon cycling in a central US grassland . Entropy, 15, 1324-1341.

Hu, L. & Brunsell, N. A. (2013). The impact of temporal aggregation of land surface temperature data for urban heat island (UHI) monitoring. Remote Sensing of Environment , 134, 162-174.

Petrie, M. D., Brunsell, N. A., & Nippert, J. B. (2012). Climate change alters growing season flux dynamics in mesic grasslands . Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 107, 427-440.

Barve, N. A., Bonilla, A. J., Brandes, J. Brown, J. C., Brunsell, N. Cochran, F. V., Crosthwait, R. Gentry, J. Gerhart, L. M., Jackson, T. Kern, A. J., Owens, H. Peterson, A. T., Reed, A. S., Soberón, J. Sundberg, A. D., & Williams, L. M. (2012). Climate-change causation of mass mortality events in overwintering monarch butterflies . Revista Mexicana de la Biodiversidad , 83, 817-824.

Cochran, F. V., & Brunsell, N. A. (2012). Temporal scales of tropospheric CO2, precipitation, and ecosystem responses in central Great Plains. Remote Sensing of Environment, 127, 316-328.

Wohl, E. Barros, A. Brunsell, N. Chappell, N. Coe, M. Giambelluca, T. Goldsmith, S. Harmon, R. Hendrickx, J. Juvik, J. McDonnell, J. & Ogden, F. (2012). The hydrology of the humid tropics. Nature Climate Change , 2, 655-662. DOI:10.1038/NCLIMATE1556

Petrie, M. D., & Brunsell, N. A. (2012). The role of precipitation variability on the ecohydrology of grasslands . Ecohydrology, 5, 337-345. DOI:10.1002/eco.224

Craine, J. M., Nippert, J. B., Elmore, A. J., Skibbe, A. M., Hutchinson, S. L., & Brunsell, N. A. (2012). The timing of climate variability and grassland productivity . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 109, 3401-3405. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1118438109

Brunsell, N. A., & Anderson, M. C. (2011). Characterizing the multiscale spatial structure of remotely sensed evapotranspiration with information theory . Biogeosciences, 8, 2269-2280. DOI:10.5194/bg-9-2269-2011

Brunsell, N. A., Schymanski, S. & Kleidon, A. (2011). Quantifying the thermodynamic entropy budget of the land surface: is this useful? Earth System Dynamics , 2, 87-103. DOI:10.5194/esd-2-87-2011

Nippert, J. B., Ocheltree, T. Skibbe, A. Kangas, L. Ham, J. M., Arnold, K. & Brunsell, N. A. (2011). Scaling above-ground growth by landscape position in mesic grassland . Oecologia, 1-12. DOI:10.1007/s00442-011-1948-6

Brunsell, N. A., Mechem, D. B., & Anderson, M. C. (2011). Surface heterogeneity impacts on boundary layer dynamics via energy balance partitioning . Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics , 11, 3403-3416. DOI:10.5194/acp-11-1-2011

Brunsell, N. A., Ham, J. M., & Arnold, K. A. (2011). Validating remotely sensed land surface fluxes in heterogeneous terrain with large aperture scintillometry . International Journal of Remote Sensing, 32, 6295-6314.

Brunsell, N. A. (2010). A multiscale information theory approach to assess spatial-temporal variability of daily precipitation. Journal of Hydrology , 385, 165-172. DOI:j.jhydrol.2010.02.016

Selected Grants

Brunsell, Nathaniel, (Principal), Konza Cluster for the Ameriflux Network (Annually Renewed), DOE - Subcontract from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, $410,000, (01/01/2014 - 12/31/2019) . Federal. Status: Funded.

O'Neill, B., (Principal), Brunsell, N. A., (Co-Investigator), Lawrence, P., (Co-Investigator), Feddema, J., (Co-Investigator), Oleson, K., Jain, A., Barton, M., Collaborative Research EaSM2: Linking Human and Earth System Models to Assess Regional Impacts and Adaption in Urban Systems and their Hinterlands, NSF, $699,606, (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2018) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Vargas, Rodrigo, (Principal), Brunsell, Nathaniel, (Co-Principal), Hayes, Daniel, (Co-Principal), , Reducing uncertainty in carbon cycle science of North Amer- ica: a synthesis program across United States and Mexico., USDA, $537,741, (01/01/2014 - 12/31/2017) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Brunsell, Nathaniel, (Principal), Subcontract to Konza Prairie Long Term Ecological Station (Annually Renewed: $25,000/year), NSF, $125,000, (01/01/2010 - 12/31/2015) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Brunsell, N. A., (Principal), Mechem, D. B., (Co-Investigator), Ma, C., (Co-Investigator), Assessing regional scale variability in extreme value statistics under altered climate scenarios, DOE, $510,544, (01/01/2011 - 12/31/2013) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Wilhelmi, O., (Principal), Brunsell, N. A., (Co-Investigator), Feddema, J, (Co-Investigator), Monaghan, A, (Co-Investigator), Oleson, K, (Co-Investigator), System for Integrated Modeling of Metropolitan Extreme Heat Risk (SIMMER), NASA, $367,116, (01/01/2010 - 12/31/2013) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Brunsell, N. A., (Co-Principal), Stoy, P., (Principal), Scaling ecosystem function: Novel approaches from MaxEnt and Multiresolution, NSF, $135,803, (01/01/2011 - 12/31/2012) . Federal. Status: Funded.

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