Univerisity of Kentucky



College of Agriculture,
Food and Environment

Ren Lab


RESEARCH

Global Changes and Ecosystem Dynamics


The Earth's system has been experiencing rapidly multiple global changes. We investigate the impacts of coupled natural and anthropogenic factors in the context of multiple global changes. 

• Climate change/extremes (e.g. drought and flood) 

• Air pollution (e.g. tropospheric ozone, aerosol) 

• Land use and land cover change (e.g. crop expansion) 

• Land management practices (e.g. fertilizer use, irrigation, harvest, rotation, and tillage) 

• Soil health and Climate-smart agriculture (e.g. conservation tillage, cover crop, and biochar) 

The dynamics of terrestrial ecosystem structure and functioning are important indicators to measure the resilience and capacity of ecosystem goods and services. We assess biogeochemical dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems (cropland, grassland, and forest) as influenced by global changes at broad scales (e.g. Mississippi River Basin, southeastern US, North America, China, India, Monsoon Asia, and the Globe). 

• Ecosystem productivity and crop yield 

• Soil carbon/nitrogen storage and fluxes 

• Land-atmosphere exchange of water and greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, and N2O) 

• Water, carbon, and nutrients transport from land to aquatic environment (e.g. dissolved organic/inorganic carbon/nitrogen leaching and export) 


Integrated Ecosystem Modeling

Develop and Improve Land Ecosystem Models, by incorporating improved representations of biophysical, biogeochemical, and biological processes, to enhance the capability in simulating human activities as an interdependent component of the Earth system. To develop sustainable management of natural resources and human-dominant systems, we particularly need to enhance the capability of Earth system models to simulate human activities as an interdependent component of the Earth system. Agroecosystems play the key role for future climate change mitigation and adaption. We are dedicated to improve agroecosystem-modeling approach in simulating diverse land management practices impacts for the development of climate-smart agricultural management. 

• Coupled water-carbon-nutrient cycling 

• Diverse land management practices 

• Integrated agroecosystem modeling 


Big Data Use, Analysis, and Synthesis 

We use, analyze, and synthesize Big Data derived from site-level observations/experiments and remote sensing platforms for addressing broad-scaled ecological research questions. 

• Data model assimilation 

• Spatially explicit environmental data development and application 

• Decision-making supporting tools for sustainable use of land and water resources, enhanced food security, and climate mitigation and adaptation