Wei Ren

Wei Ren

Assistant Professor

Phone (859) 257-1953
Fax (859) 257-2185

Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
1100 S Limestone St
Suite N-122L Lexington KY 40546-0091

Professional Profile


Ecosystem Ecology, Agroclimatology, Ecosystem Modeling


The Ren Lab is to study Climate-Human-Ecosystem interactions and feedbacks using an integrated systems approach, through the development of interdisciplinary, collaborative, and integrated research programs, for providing a scientific basis and potential climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for sustainable management of natural resources and agricultural systems.


Dr. Ren is broadly interested in understanding, assessing and predicting natural processes and human-caused changes in Earth’s Ecosystems and Climate System by using an integrated systems approach with a combination of numerical models, remote sensing/GIS, and field observations and measurements. She works at multiple spatiotemporal scales ranging from plot, landscape/watershed, regional, to the global levels, and over daily, seasonal, annual, decadal, and century scales. Her research is driven by scientific questions such as: How do multiple global change drivers influence ecosystem processes and exchanges (water, carbon, nutrients) across soil-plant-atmosphere interfaces?  How do human-induced changes in energy and matter movement through different biogeochemical cycles among terrestrial ecosystems affect the physical climate system and aquatic system? How can we identify and apply Climate-Smart Agricultural practices to enhance food production, soil carbon sequestration, and water/nutrients use efficiency while minimizing negative environmental effects on water quality and greenhouse gas emissions? Her research foci include:

  • Investigate the Single and Combination Effects of Natural and Anthropogenic Factors, including climate change/extremes (drought and flood), air pollution (tropospheric ozone), atmospheric CO2, nitrogen deposition, disturbance (fire), land cover change (e.g. crop expansion and urbanization) and land management practices (e.g., fertilizer use, irrigation, harvest, rotation, tillage, cover cropping, straw return), in the context of multiple global changes.
  • Assess Dynamics of Terrestrial Ecosystems(Cropland, Grassland, Forest) productivity, carbon/nitrogen storage in plant and soil; land-atmosphere exchange of water, energy and greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O); water discharge, carbon and nitrogen transport from land to ocean as influenced by those multiple global changes at broad scales (e.g., Mississippi river basin, southeastern US, North America, China, Monsoon Asia, and the globe).
  • Develop and Improve Land Ecosystem Model, by incorporating improved representations of physical, chemical, and biological processes, in simulating multiple global changes, fully coupled cycles of water-carbon-nitrogen-phosphorus, and human activities with an emphasis on diverse land management practices for climate change adaptation and mitigation. We aim to enhance the capability of Earth system models to simulate human activities (management practices) as an interdependent component of the Earth system.
  • Use, Analyze, and Synthesize Big Data derived from site-level observations/experiments to large-scale remote sensing monitoring for model parameterization, evaluation, and validation. We generate gridded datasets at multiple time and space scales as model inputs for different purposes in study regions. Through data-model fusion, we work toward developing systems-oriented thinking framework, tools and approaches to support stakeholder for the sustainable management and use of land and water resources, and facilitate the environmental policy and decision making. 


  • 2015 - present, Assistant Professor, Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, University of Kentucky
  • 2011 - 2015, Research Fellow, International Center for Climate and Global Change Research, Auburn University
  • 2009 - 2010, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ecosystem Dynamics and Global Ecology Laboratory, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University


  • Ph.D. Ecology, Auburn University, 2009
  • M.S. Meteorology, Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, Nanjing, China, 2003
  • B.S. Agricultural Meteorology, Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, Nanjing, China, 2000


Selected Journal Papers (since 2007)

  • Ren, W, Tian, H,Tao,B.,Yang, J.Pan,S, Cai, W.,Lohrenz, S., He, R.,Hopinson, C (2015), Large increase in dissolved inorganic carbon flux from the Mississippi River to Gulf of Mexico due to climatic and anthropogenic changes over the 21st century, DOI: 10.1002/2014JG002761
  • Zhang, J., W. Ren et al.Responses of crop water use efficiency to climate change and agronomic measures in the semiarid area of Northern China. PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137409
  • Tian, H., W. Ren, J. Yang , B. Tao, W. Cai , S.E. Lohrenz, C.S. Hopkinson, M. Liu, Q. Yang, C. Lu , B. Zhang, K. Banger, S. Pan, R. He, and Z. Xue, Climate extremes dominating seasonal and interannual variations in carbon export from the Mississippi River Basin, (2015) Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 29, doi:10.1002/ 2014GB005068.
  • Dang*, Y., W. Ren* (*contributed equally), B. Tao, G. S. Chen, C. Q. Lu, J. Yang, S. F. Pan, G. D. Wang, S. Q. Li, and H. Q. Tian (2014), Climate and Land Use Controls on Soil Organic Carbon in the Loess Plateau Region of China, Plos One, 9(5), e95548, DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0095548.
  • Tian et al.( 29 coauthors including W. Ren), Global Patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models: current status and future directions, (2015), Global Biogeochem. Cycles, doi: 10.1002/2014GB005021
  • Tao, B., H. Q. Tian, W. Ren, J. Yang, Q. C. Yang, R. Y. He, W. J. Cai, and S. Lohrenz (2014), Increasing Mississippi river discharge throughout the 21st century influenced by changes in climate, land use, and atmospheric CO2, Geophys Res Lett, 41(14), 4978-4986, doi:Doi 10.1002/2014gl060361.
  • Yang, J., H. Q. Tian, B. Tao, W. Ren, J. Kush, Y. Q. Liu, and Y. H. Wang (2014), Spatial and temporal patterns of global burned area in response to anthropogenic and environmental factors: Reconstructing global fire history for the 20th and early 21st centuries, J. Geophys Res-Biogeo, 119(3), 249-263, doi:Doi 10.1002/2013jg002532.
  • Pan, S. F., H. Q. Tian, S. R. S. Dangal, Z. Y. Ouyang, B. Tao, W. Ren, C. Q. Lu, and S. Running (2014), Modeling and Monitoring Terrestrial Primary Production in a Changing Global Environment: Toward a Multiscale Synthesis of Observation and Simulation, Adv Meteorol, doi:Artn 965936, Doi 10.1155/2014/965936.
  • Yang, Q., H Tian, X Li, B Tao, W Ren, G Chen, C Lu, J Yang, S Pan, K Banger, B Zhang, (2014) Spatiotemporal patterns of evapotrans piration along the North American east coast as influenced by multiple environmental changes, Ecohydrology, DOI: 10.1002/eco.1538
  • Tian, H., G. Chen, C. Lu, X. Xu, D. Hayes, W. Ren, S. Pan, D. Huntzinger, and S. Wofsy (2014), North American terrestrial CO2 uptake largely offset by CH4 and N2O emissions: toward a full accounting of the greenhouse gas budget, Climatic Change, 1-14, doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1072-9.
  • Tao, B., H. Q. Tian, G. S. Chen, W. Ren, C. Q. Lu, K. D. Alley, X. F. Xu, M. L. Liu, S. F. Pan, and H. Virji (2013), Terrestrial carbon balance in tropical Asia: Contribution from cropland expansion and land management, Global and Planetary Change, 100, 85-98, doi:DOI 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2012.09.006.
  • Ren, W., H. Q. Tian, B. Tao, Y. Huang, and S. F. Pan (2012), China's crop productivity and soil carbon storage as influenced by multifactor global change, Global Change Biology, 18(9), 2945-2957, doi:DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02741.x.
  • Tian, H. Q., C. Lu, J. Melillo, W. Ren, Y. Huang, X. Xu, M. Liu, C. Zhang, G. Chen, S. Pan, J. Liu, and J. Reilly (2012), Food benefit and climate warming potential of nitrogen fertilizer uses in China, Environ Res Lett, 7(4), n044020, Doi 10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044020.
  • Liu, M. L., H. Q. Tian, C. Q. Lu, X. F. Xu, G. S. Chen, and W. Ren (2012), Effects of multiple environment stresses on evapotranspiration and runoff over eastern China, Journal of Hydrology, 426, 39-54, doi:DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.01.009.
  • Lu, C. Q., H. Q. Tian, M. L. Liu, W. Ren, X. F. Xu, G. S. Chen, and C. Zhang (2012), Effect of nitrogen deposition on China's terrestrial carbon uptake in the context of multifactor environmental changes, Ecological Applications, 22(1), 53-75.
  • Xu, X. F., H. Q. Tian, G. S. Chen, M. L. Liu, W. Ren, C. Q. Lu, and C. Zhang (2012), Multifactor controls on terrestrial N2O flux over North America from 1979 through 2010, Biogeosciences, 9(4), 1351-1366, doi:DOI 10.5194/bg-9-1351-2012.
  • Tian, H. Q., G. Chen, C. Zhang, M. Liu, G. Sun, A. Chappelka, W. Ren, X. Xu, C. Lu, S. Pan, H. Chen, D. Hui, S. McNulty, G. Lockaby, and E. Vance.  (2012), Century-Scale Responses of Ecosystem Carbon Storage and Flux to Multiple Environmental Changes in the Southern United States, Ecosystems, 15(4), 674-694, doi:DOI 10.1007/s10021-012-9539-x.
  • Chen, G. S., H. Q. Tian, C. Zhang, M. L. Liu, W. Ren, W. Q. Zhu, A. H. Chappelka, S. A. Prior, and G. B. Lockaby (2012), Drought in the Southern United States over the 20th century: variability and its impacts on terrestrial ecosystem productivity and carbon storage, Climatic Change, 114(2), 379-397, doi:DOI 10.1007/s10584-012-0410-z.
  • Ren, W., H. Q. Tian, B. Tao, A. Chappelka, G. Sun, C. Q. Lu, M. L. Liu, G. S. Chen, and X. F. Xu (2011a), Impacts of tropospheric ozone and climate change on net primary productivity and net carbon exchange of China's forest ecosystems, Global Ecol Biogeogr, 20(3), 391-406, doi:DOI 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00606.x.
  • Ren, W., H. Q. Tian, X. F. Xu, M. L. Liu, C. Q. Lu, G. S. Chen, J. Melillo, J. Reilly, and J. Y. Liu (2011b), Spatial and temporal patterns of CO2 and CH4 fluxes in China's croplands in response to multifactor environmental changes, Tellus B, 63(2), 222-240, doi:DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2010.00522.x.
  • Tian, H. Q., J. Melillo, C. Lu, D. Kicklighter, M. Liu, W. Ren, X. Xu, G. Chen, C. Zhang, S. Pan, J. Liu, and S. Running.  (2011b), China's terrestrial carbon balance: Contributions from multiple global change factors, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 25, nGb1007, Doi: 10.1029/2010gb003838.
  • Ren, W., H. Tian, G. Chen, M. Liu, C. Zhang, A. H. Chappelka, and S. Pan (2007a), Influence of ozone pollution and climate variability on net primary productivit and carbon storage in China's grassland ecosystems from 1961 to 2000, Environ Pollut, 149(3), 327-335, doi:DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.05.029.
  • Ren, W., H. Q. Tian, M. L. Liu, C. Zhang, G. S. Chen, S. F. Pan, B. Felzer, and X. F. Xu (2007b), Effects of tropospheric ozone pollution on net primary productivity and carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems of China, J Geophys Res-Atmos, 112(D22), D22s09, Doi 10.1029/2007jd008521.
  • Zhang, C., H. Q. Tian, A. H. Chappelka, W. Ren, H. Chen, S. F. Pan, M. L. Liu, D. M. Styers, G. S. Chen, and Y. H. Wang (2007), Impacts of climatic and atmospheric changes on carbon dynamics in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Environ Pollut, 149(3), 336-347, doi:DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.05.028.

Book Chapters and Conference Proceedings

  • Tian H., Xu X., Zhang C., Ren, W., Chen G., Liu M., Lu D., Pan S. (2008). Forecasting and assessing the large scale and long term impacts of global environmental change on terrestrial ecosystems in the United States and China. In: Real World Ecology: large scale and long term case studies and methods. (Miao S., Carstenn S., and Nungesser M. eds), Springer, New York.
  • Liu, M., Tian H., Zhang C., Chen G., Ren, W., Xu X., Pan S., Wang X., and Nagy C.. (2007). Effects of urbanization and land use change on water yield – A case study of Haihe Basin in China. Laband, D. (eds.) Emerging Issues Along Urban/Rural Interfaces 2: Linking Land Use Science and Society. Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, Georgia, April 9 12, 2007.
  • Chen, G., Tian, H., Liu, M., Ren, W., Zhang, C., Pan, S., 2006. Climate Impacts on China's Terrestrial Carbon Cycle: An Assessment with the Dynamic Land Ecosystem Model. In: Tian, H.Q. (Eds.), Environmental Modelling and Simulation, ACTA Press, Anaheim/ Calgary/ Zurich, p56 70.


Ren, W., Climate change impacts on soil carbon storage in global croplands: 1901-2010. American Geophysical Union (AGU), Fall Meeting 2015,San Francisco, CA, USA (Talk)

Ren, W., Integrated agro-system modeling for achieving food security in the face of climate change and air pollution: A case study in China, Symposium: Air pollution, climate change and food security, 47th Air Pollution Workshop, May 17 - 21, 2015 in Auburn, AL (Talk)

Ren, W., Integrated Ag-Systems Modeling to Support Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices, Seminar in the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky (Invited Talk)

Ren, W., H. Tian, J. Yang, B. Tao, and S. Pan, Potential Impacts of Droughts on Crop Productivity in the United States over 21st Century, American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2014,San Francisco, CA, USA (Poster)

Ren, W., Evaluating natural and human impacts on carbon balance of global agro-ecosystems during 1901-2010 based on multiple terrestrial models and data American Geophysical Union (AGU), Fall Meeting 2013,San Francisco, CA, USA (Talk)

Ren, W., 2013. Climate change impacts on US crop productivity in the context of multiple global changes during 1951-2099.  ASA, CSSA and SSSA International Annual Meetings, Tampa, Florida (Talk)

Ren, W., H. Tian, J. Yang, B. Tao, Q. Yang, C. Lu, B. Zhang, S. Pan, W. Cai, C. Hopkinson. 2013. The dynamics of agricultural production and riverine carbon and nitrogen fluxes in the Mississippi River Basin as influenced by climate change and land use: 1901- 2010. 98th ESA Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, USA. (Poster).

Ren, W. 2012. Climate change, air pollution and food security in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, 97th Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, USA. (Invited talk)

Ren, W., H. Tian, M. Liu, B. Tao, C. Lu, X. Xu, G. Chen, J. Melillo, K. Vadrevu. 2010. Impacts of climate extreme disturbances on Monsoon Asian crop production and yield in the second half of the 20th century. 95th ESA Annual Meeting. Pittsburgh, PA (Poster)

Ren, W., H. Tian, M. Liu, G. Chen, C. Lu, X. Xu, C. Zhang, S. Pan, B. Felzer, D. Kicklighter, J. Melillo, Q. Mu, S. Runnning, M. Zhao. Comparative study of modeling the impacts of air pollution on carbon and water cycles in terrestrial ecosystems of China during 1980 2005. 2008 AGU fall meeting. San Francisco, CA, USA. (Poster)

Ren, W., H. Tian, M. Liu, G. Chen, G. Sun and A. Chappelka, Interactive effects of ozone pollution and drought on carbon and water fluxes in China’s forest ecosystems from 1961 to 2000, Air Pollution Workshop in 2008, Raleigh, NC,US (Student oral presentation and poster)

Ren, W., Urbanization and Its Effects on Air Quality and Plant Growth: A Case Study of the Yangtze Delta of China. Urbanization and land use change conference in 2007, Atlanta, GA, US. (Talk).

Ren, W., H. Tian, M. Liu, A. Chappelka, C. Zhang, G. Chen, Regional O3 pollution effects on Forest NPP and ET in Southeastern USA. 2006 91stEcological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting. Memphis, Tennessee, USA. (Poster).


  • The Ecological Society of America-Asian Ecology Section: Early Career Ecologist Award, 2012
  • Appreciation Award for Outstanding Service to Sino-Eco, 2008-2012
  • Distinguished Dissertation Award, Auburn University, 2011
  • Drummond Fellowship Awards in School of Forest and Wildlife Sciences, 2007-2008
  • Outstanding International Graduate Student Awards in Auburn University, 2007- 2008
  • NCAR Advanced Study Program (ASP) Colloquium Fellowship, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), 2007


  • The Global Gridded Crop Model Intercomparision (GGCMI)  led by Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) (2011-2016)
  • Wildfires and regional climate variability: Mechanisms, modeling, and prediction, supported by NSF EaSM program (Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models), Project (2013-2017)
  • Development of observational products and coupled models of land ocean atmospheric fluxes in the Mississippi River watershed and Gulf of Mexico in support of carbon monitoring, supported by NASA Carbon Monitoring System Program, Project (2012-2014)
  • Assessing and predicting impacts of climate change and land management practices on productivity, carbon sequestration capacity, and GHG emission in agricultural and forest systems, supported by AAES, project (2011-2013)
  • Land use-Ecosystem-Climate Interactions in Monsoon Asia: Evaluating the impacts of current and projected LCLUC on climate, water and carbon cycling in the first half of 21st century, US NASA LULCC program (2008-2012)
  • Linking Multi scale Remotely Sensed Data, Field Observations and Biogeochemistry Models to Evaluate Changes in the Terrestrial Ecosystems of China, US NASA Interdisciplinary Science Program (2004-2007)


  • Member of Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) (2014 to present)
  • Member of Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) (2013 to present)
  • Member of Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) (2013 to present)
  • Member of  Asian Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America (2009 to present)
  • Secretary and Treasurer of  Sino Ecologists Association Overseas (Sino-Eco) (2008 to present)
  • Member of North American Carbon Program (NACP) (2009 to present)
  • Member of Ecological Society of America (ESA) (2006 to present)
  • Member of American Geophysical Union (AGU) (2006 to present)
  • Member of Ecosystem and Regional Analysis Group (2003-present)
  • Member of NASA Interdisciplinary Science Team (2003-present)