Wei Ren

Wei Ren
Associate Professor

Additional Information


The Ren Lab is to study Climate-Ecosystem-Human interactions and feedbacks by using an integrated systems approach and developing interdisciplinary, collaborative, and integrated research programs, for providing a scientific basis and potential climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

Visit the Ren Lab website at www.ren-lab.com to learn more about our research.

Research Interests

Dr. Ren is broadly interested in understanding, assessing, and predicting interactions and feedbacks between natural and anthropogenic processes in Earth's Ecosystems and Climate System by integrating field observations/measurements, remote sensing/GIS, and numerical models. Her recent research foci include three areas: (I) Assessment of climate-smart agriculture effectiveness at multiple scales; (II) Investigation of carbon, nitrogen, and water fluxes across agroecosystems; (III) Big-data synthesis for sustainable agricultural development.


Agroclimatology, Ecosystem Modeling, Global Change Ecology


Ph.D., Ecosytem Ecology, Auburn University

Professional Experience

Associate Professor, Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, University of Kentucky, 2021 – present

Assistant Professor, Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, University of Kentucky, 2015 – 2021

Research Fellow, International Center for Climate and Global Change Research, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 2011 – 2015

Selected Publications

  • Huang, Y., B. Tao, X. Zhu, Y. Yang, L. Liang, L. Wang, P. Jacinthe, H. Tian, and W. Ren (2021), Conservation tillage increases corn and soybean water productivity across the Ohio River Basin. Agricultural Water Management, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2021.106962

  • Yang, Y., B. Tao, L. Liang, Y. Huang, C. Matocha, C. Lee, M. Sama, B. Masri, and W. Ren (2021). Detecting Recent Crop Phenology Dynamics in Corn and Soybean Cropping Systems of Kentucky. Remote Sensing, 13(9), 1615.

  • Shrestha, D., K. Jacobsen, W. Ren, and O. Wendroth (2021), Understanding soil nitrogen processes in diversified vegetable systems through agroecosystem modelling. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 120: 49-68

  • Yang, Y., W. Ren, B. Tao, L. Ji, L. Liang, A. Ruane, J.B. Fisher, J.G. Liu, M. Sama, Z. Li, and Q.G. Tian (2020), Characterizing spatial and temporal patterns of crop phenology across North America during 2000-2016 using MODIS time series and agricultural survey data. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 170:156-173

  • Huang, Y. , W. Ren, J. Grove, H. Poffenbarger, K. Jacobsen, B. Tao, X. Zhu and D. McNear (2020), Assessing synergistic effects of no-tillage and cover crops on soil carbon dynamics in a long-term maize cropping system under climate change, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2020.108090 

  • Tao, B., Y.J. Yang, J. Yang, R. Smith, J. Fox, A. Ruane, J.Z. Liu, W. Ren (2020), Recent Shrinkage and Fragmentation of Bluegrass Landscape induced by crop expansion in Kentucky, Remote Sensing,12(11):1815
  • Ren, W., K. Banger, B. Tao, J. Yang, Y. Huang, and H. Tian (2020), Global pattern and change of cropland soil organic carbon during 1901-2010: Roles of climate, atmospheric chemistry, land use and management, Geography and Sustainability, 1(1),59-69.
  • Bai, X.X.,Y. Huang, W. Ren, M. Coyne, P. A. Jacinthe, B. Tao, D. Hui, J. Yang, and C. Matocha (2019), Responses of soil carbon sequestration to climate‐smart agriculture practices: A meta-analysis, Global Change Biology, 25(8), 2591-2606.
  • Yang, J., W. Ren, Y. Ouyang, G. Feng, B. Tao, J.J. Granger, K.P. Poudel (2019). Projection of the 21st-century irrigation water requirement across the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Agricultural Water Management, 217, 60-72.
  • Huang, Y., W. Ren, L. Wang, D. Hui, J. Grove, X. Yang, B. Tao, and B. Goff (2018), Greenhouse gas emissions and crop yield in no-tillage systems: a meta-analysis.  Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 268: 144-153.

  • Ren W. (2018) Towards an Integrated Agroecosystem Modeling Approach for Climate-Smart Agricultural Management. In: Wendroth, O., R.J. Lascano, and L. Ma (Eds.) Bridging among disciplines by synthesizing soil and plant processes. Advances in Agricultural Systems Modeling, Volume 8: 127-144, ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison, WI 53711-5801, USA.

  • Dangal, Shree R.S., H. Tian, C. Lu, W. Ren, S. Pan, J. Yang, N. Di Cosmo, A. Hessl (2017), Integrating Herbivore Population Dynamics into a Global Land Biosphere Model: Plugging Animals into the Earth System. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. 9, 2920–2945, DOI: 10.1002/2016MS000904
  • Zhang, C. and W. Ren (2017), Complex climatic and CO2 controls on net primary productivity of temperate dryland ecosystems over central Asia during 1980–2014, Journal of Geophysical Research:Biogeosciences, 122, doi:10.1002/ 2017JG003781.
  • Pan, S., G. Chen, W. Ren, SRS Dangal, K. Banger, J. Yang, B. Tao, and H. Tian (2017), Responses of global terrestrial water use efficiency to climate change and rising atmospheric CO2 concentration in the twenty-first century, International Journal of Digital Earth, 1-25, DOI: 10.1080/17538947.2017.1337818
  • Ren, W., H.Q. Tian, W. Cai, S.E. Lohrenz, C.S. Hopkinson, W. Huang, J. Yang, B. Tao, S.F. Pan, and R. He (2016), Century-long increasing trend and variability of dissolved organic carbon export from the Mississippi River basin driven by natural and anthropogenic forcing, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 30(9):1288-1299, DOI: 10.1002/2016GB005395.
  • Tian, H.Q., W. Ren, B. Tao, G. Sun, A. Chappelka, X. Wang, S. Pan, J. Yang, J. Liu, B. S. Felzer, J. M. Melillo, and J. Reilly (2016), Climate extremes and ozone pollution: a growing threat to China's food security, Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, 2(1), DOI:10.1002/ehs2.1203.
  • Jin, N., B. Tao, W. Ren, M. Feng, R. Sun, L. He, W. Zhuang, and Q. Yu (2016), Mapping irrigated and rainfed wheat areas using multi-temporal satellite data, Remote Sensing, 8(3):207, DOI: 10.3390/rs8030207.
  • Zhang, B., H.Q. Tian, W. Ren, B. Tao, C. Lu, J. Yang, K. Banger, and S. Pan (2016), Methane emissions from global rice fields: magnitude, spatiotemporal patterns and environmental controls, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 30(9):1246-1263, DOI: 10.1002/2016GB005381.
  • An, P., W. Ren, X. Liu, M. Song, and X. Li (2016), Adjustment and optimization of the cropping systems under water constraint, Sustainability, 8 (12): 1207, DOI: 10.3390/su8121207.
  • 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, Journal of Geophysical Research:Biogeosciences DOI: 10.1002/2014JG002761 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 Biogeochemical Cycles, 29, doi:10.1002/ 2014GB005068.
  • Tian et al. (29 coauthors), Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models: current status and future directions, (2015), Global Biogeochemical Cycles, doi: 10.1002/2014GB005021
  • Dang, Y., W. Ren , 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.
  • 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, Environmental Research Letters, 7(4), n044020, Doi 10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044020.
  • 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 (2011a), 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.
  • Ren, W., H. Q. Tian, B. Tao, A. Chappelka, G. Sun, C. Q. Lu, M. L. Liu, G. S. Chen, and X. F. Xu (2011b), Impacts of tropospheric ozone and climate change on net primary productivity and net carbon exchange of China's forest ecosystems, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20(3), 391-406, doi:DOI 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00606.x.
  • 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 productivity and carbon storage in China's grassland ecosystems from 1961 to 2000, Environmental Pollution, 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, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 112(D22), D22s09, Doi 10.1029/2007jd008521.