Global Ecology Group
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About our group

Our research is motivated by the compelling need to understand the impacts of climate change and human activities on the Earth’s biosphere and the feedbacks to the climate. We strive to answer major science questions on global carbon/water cycles, climate-vegetation interactions, ecosystem dynamics, and coupled natural and human systems. We combine terrestrial biosphere modeling, remote sensing, field measurements, upscaling, model-data fusion, and statistical analysis to answer these science questions.


Dr. Jingfeng Xiao, Research Professor

E-mail: j dot xiao at unh dot edu


Highlights on recent papers: (* indicates advisees)

Chang, Y.*, Xiao, J., Li, X., Frolking, S., Zhou, D., Schneider, A., Weng, Q., Yu, P., Wang, X., Li, X., Liu, S., Wu, Y. (2021) Exploring diurnal cycles of surface urban heat island intensity in Boston with land surface temperature data derived from GOES-R geostationary satellites. Science of the Total Environment, 763, 144224. [PDF]

Li, X.*, Xiao, J., Kimball, J.S., Reichle, R.H., Scott, R.L., Litvak, M.E., Bohrer, G., Frankenberg, C. (2020) Synergistic use of SMAP and OCO-2 data in assessing the responses of ecosystem productivity to the 2018 U.S. drought. Remote Sensing of Environment, 251, 112062. [PDF]

Xu, H.*, Xiao, J., Zhang, Z., Ollinger, S.V., Hollinger, D.Y., Pan, Y., Wan, J. (2020) Canopy photosynthetic capacity drives contrasting age dynamics of resource use efficiencies between mature temperate evergreen and deciduous forests. Global Change Biology, 26, 6156-6167. [PDF]

Deng, J.*, Xiao, J., Ouimette, A., Zhang, Y., Sanders-DeMott, R., Frolking, S., Li, C. (2020) Improving a biogeochemical model to simulate surface energy, greenhouse gas fluxes, and radiative forcing for different land use types in Northeastern United States. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 34, e2019GB006520. [PDF]

Li, X.*, Xiao, J. (2019) Mapping photosynthesis solely from solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence: A global, fine-resolution dataset of gross primary production derived from OCO-2. Remote Sensing, 11(21), 2563; [PDF]

Xiao, J., Chevallier, F., Gomez, C., Guanter, L., Hicke, J.A., Huete, A.R., Ichii, K., Ni, W., Pang, Y., Rahman, A.F., Sun, G., Yuan, W., Zhang, L., Zhang, X. (2019) Remote sensing of the terrestrial carbon cycle: A review of advances over 50 years. Remote Sensing of Environment, 233, 111383. (A review article) [PDF]

Wang, X.*, Xiao, J., Li, X., Cheng, G., Ma, M., Zhu, G., Arain, M.A., Black, T.A., Jassal, R.S. (2019) No trends in spring and autumn phenology during the global warming hiatus. Nature Communications, 10:2389, [PDF]

Li, X.*, Xiao, J. (2019) A global, 0.05-degree product of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence derived from OCO-2, MODIS, and reanalysis data. Remote Sensing, 11, 517. [PDF]

Zhou, D., Xiao, J., Bonafoni, S., Berger, C., Deilami, K., Zhou, Y., Frolking, S., Yao, R., Qiao, Z., Sobrino, J.A. (2019) Satellite remote sensing of surface urban heat islands: Progress, challenges, and perspectives. Remote Sensing, 2019, 11, 48; doi:10.3390/rs11010048. (A review article) [PDF]


Group news:



Xiaojuan's paper titled Improving the global MODIS GPP model by optimizing parameters with FLUXNET data is now published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. We optimized parameters and quantified parameter uncertainty for the MODIS GPP model for all vegetation types with data from 110 FLUXNET sites and the MCMC method. It is an effort towards improving the globall MODIS GPP product. [PDF]

Jingfeng has agreed to serve as an associate editor for Ecological Processes, an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal devoted to ecological studies with a focus on the underlying processes of the dynamics and functions of ecological systems at multiple spatial and temporal scales.



For the first time, we used observations from new generation geostationary satellites to study diurnal cycling of surface urban heat island (SUHI). With GOES-R land surface temperature data, we found that (1) SUHI intensity in Boston varied over the course of diurnal cycle; (2) maximum and minimum SUHI intensity occurred near noon and at night, respectively; (3) maximum SUHI intensity was ~2–3 °C higher in urban-core than in suburban area; (4) relations of SUHI intensity with drivers varied over the course of diurnal cycle. Great job, Yue! [Full article]

Hang's paper titled Canopy photosynthetic capacity drives contrasting age dynamics of resource use efficiencies between mature temperate evergreen and deciduous forests is now published in Global Change Biology. [PDF]

Eight group members and alumni presented research findings at the AGU Fall Meeting (Online Everywhere).

Jingfeng presented the findings of our ECOSTRESS project at the ECOSTRESS Science and Applications Team Meeting.


Jing Zhao's paper titled Physiological and environmental control on ecosystem water use efficiency in response to drought across the northern hemisphere has been published in Science of the Total Environment. [PDF]


Xing's paper titled Synergistic use of SMAP and OCO-2 data in assessing the responses of ecosystem productivity to the 2018 U.S. drought has been published in Remote Sensing of Environment. [PDF]

Jingfeng and Xing gave a plenary talk on mapping terrestrial photosynthesis globally with solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and FLUXNET observations at the 2020 AmeriFlux Annual Meeting (October 6-8, 2020; Virtual meeting).


Jingfeng has been promoted to full research professor. Thanks, all our postdocs/scholars, students, collaborators, and funding agencies.

Jingfeng gave an invited talk at Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence (GSCE), South Dakota State University (remotely). The talk is titled Understanding global land photosynthesis with solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence measured from space.


Are you interested in DNDC - a widely used biogeochemical model for simulating CO2, CH4, & N2O from site to globe? Now DNDC has the capability to simulate surface energy exchange & radiative forcing. Read our Global Biogeochem. Cycles paper led by Jia: Improving a biogeochemical model to simulate surface energy, greenhouse gas fluxes, and radiative forcing for different land use types in Northeastern United States.


Hang's paper titled Heatwave effects on gross primary production of northern mid-latitude ecosystems has been published in Environmental Research Letters. Heat waves depress photosynthesis for most ecosystem types except C4 sites. Forests are most resistant and resilient; C4 ecosystems have weaker stomatal control on water loss. Understanding the post-effect of heat waves is also vital.


A nice web app for Manchester residential yard carbon stock measurements has been recently released: Residents can see above/belowground C & tree species in their own yards in comparison to other yards that we sampled. This is funded by our NASA Carbon Cycle Science project (NNX14AJ18G), and created by our project team members Apryl Perry and Alix Contosta.


Xing's paper titled Global climatic controls on interannual variability of ecosystem productivity: similarities and differences inferred from solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and enhanced vegetation index has been published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. [PDF]


Our new AFM paper shows that canopy conductance is the dominant factor regulating forest ecosystem WUE in spring & autumn, while the fraction of diffuse radiation (FDR) is the main driver in summer by depressing ET and promoting GPP. Nice work, Hang!


The new paper led by Dr. Li Zhang -Increased carbon uptake and water use efficiency in global semi-arid ecosystems came out in ERL today. In this study, we upscaled FLUXNET data to the globe and examined the trends in C uptake, ET, and WUE and their drivers for semi-arid regions globally over the period 1982-2015. Precipitation is the most important factor enhancing carbon uptake, ET, and WUE.

Jingfeng and Xing attended the ECOSTRESS Science and Applications Team Meeting at Ventura, California (February 11-13, 2020) and presented our early results from our recently funded ECOSTRESS project.


Our paper titled Biogeochemical and socioeconomic drivers of above- and below-ground carbon stocks in urban residential yards of a small city is published today in Landscape and Urban Planning. This is an outcome of our NASA Carbon Cycle Science project on the interactions between carbon cycling, land use and climate change within mixed agricultural, forested, suburban, and urban landscapes. Nice work, Alix!


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Prospective graduate students and postdocs (and visiting students or scholars):

Our group may have positions open for highly-motivated and productive graduate students or postdocs. Please contact me if you are interested. We also host highly-motivated visiting students or scholars.

Special issues:

Remote Sensing of Carbon Fluxes and Stocks, Remote Sensing, Guest Editors: Bassil El Masri, JIngfeng Xiao (deadline: November 30, 2019)


Afforestation and Reforestation: Drivers, Dynamics, and Impacts, Forests, Guest editors: J. Xiao, G. Sun, L. Hao, G. Dong, Z. Zhang


Impacts of Extreme Climate Events and Disturbances on Carbon Dynamics, Biogeosciences, Guest Editors: J. Xiao, S. Liu, P. Stoy


Advances in Upscaling of Eddy Covariance Measurements of Carbon and Water Fluxes, Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, Guest Editors: J. Xiao, K.J. Davis, M. Reichestein, J.Chen