Why Field Measurements Matter in the Amazon Rain Forest and the Drylands of the Southwest: Continuing the Legacy of Professor W. James Shuttleworth

Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
4 pm on Thursday, November 4, 2021
Available via zoom
Contact the department for zoom details or to subscribe to the seminar email list
Russell Scott
Research Hydrologist, USDA-ARS
Adjunct Faculty Member, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona


Twenty-five years ago, I moved to Tucson in search of a Ph.D. dissertation topic that would match my skills and passion. I left my Master's thesis topic of improving land surface models in GCMs in Boston to seek out a project where I could collect my own data that would help solve a more regional rather than, global, problem. I couldn't believe my luck when I met world famous Dr. Shuttleworth, or Jim, as I came to know him.

Like Jim's pioneering work on making some of the first direct measurements of evapotranspiration (ET) using eddy covariance (or eddy correlation, as it was once called) in the Amazon, I was motivated to continue this legacy in Arizona to directly measure the water use of riparian vegetation along the San Pedro River and address a major unknown in basin groundwater budgets. As technology improved, I began to look at the linkages between the water and carbon cycle in these systems. I also expanded my focus to outside of the riparian bottomlands to address a major gap in our measurements and understanding of how water limitation affects ecosystem carbon uptake and efflux in dryland regions. In this presentation, I'll show some of the things we have learned about 1) riparian ET, 2) riparian vs. upland vegetation functioning, 3) dryland water and carbon cycling in the shrublands, grasslands, savannas and forests of Arizona and across the greater Southwest, and 4) how these measurements, inspired directly from Jim's pioneering work and amazing mentorship, are being used to improve earth system and remote sensing models.


Image Russell Scott

Dr. Scott has been a research hydrologist for the USDA-ARS in Tucson since 2000. He is also an adjunct faculty member in HydroAtmo and SNRE at U. Arizona. He has a Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona, an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering (Hydrology focus) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Mathematics and Philosophy from Colorado State University. He has been doing riparian and dryland hydrological and ecological research since 1997, focusing primarily on issues of vegetation water use, riparian ecosystem evapotranspiration and carbon cycling, and semiarid ecosystem water and carbon balance. He is the author on more than 150 scientific, peer-reviewed, publications, and he serves as an associate editor for Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences and for the editorial board of the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. He is also one of the Chairs for the Science Steering Committee for AmeriFlux.