Modeling representation of the coupled biogeochemical and hydrological cycling with real-world practices

Apply modeling approach as a decision-support tool to identify optimized nutrient and water management options for reducing air and water pollution, mitigating climate warming, and maintaining food production.

Selected Publications:

  1. Yu, Z., C. Lu, D.A. Hennessy, H. Feng, H. Tian. 2020. Impacts of tillage practices on soil carbon stocks in the US corn-soybean cropping system during 1998 to 2016. Environmental Research Letters doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab6393

  2. Yu, Z., C. Lu, P. Cao, H. Tian. 2018. Long-term terrestrial carbon dynamics in the Midwestern United States during 1850-2015: Roles of land cover and land use change and agricultural management. Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14074

  3. Lu, C., H. Tian, M. Liu, W. Ren, X. Xu, G. Chen and C. Zhang. 2012. Effects of nitrogen deposition on carbon fluxes and carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems of China: from 1901 to 2005. Ecological Applications 22, 53–75.

  4. Tian, H., 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, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044020

Quantification of land-to-atmosphere greenhouse gas fluxes

Quantify net biogenic fluxes of CO2, CH4 and N2O in terrestrial ecosystem in response to natural and anthropogenic disturbances, and assess the consequences of management practices to three gas together.

Selected Publications:

  1. Tian, H., C. Lu, P. Ciais, A.M. Michalak, J.G. Canadell, E. Saikawa, D.N. Huntzinger, K. Gurney, S. Sitch, B. Zhang, J. Yang, P. Bousquet, L. Bruhwiler, G. Chen, E. Dlugokencky, P. Friedlingstein, J. Melillo, S. Pan, B. Poulter, R. Prinn, M. Saunois, C.R. Schwalm, and S.C. Wofsy. 2016. The terrestrial biosphere as a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, Nature DOI 10.1038/nature16946 

  2. Lu, C., and Tian, H. 2013. Net Greenhouse Gas Balance in Response to Nitrogen Enrichment: Perspectives from a Coupled Biogeochemical Model. Global Change Biology 19, 571-588. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12049.

Quantification of land-to-aquatic mass flow

Investigate how environmental changes taken place on land would affect river discharge and C and N export, and thus affect coastal productivity and water quality.


Current sponsor: Iowa Nutrient Research Center, NSF CAREER, NSF INFEWS

Selected Publications:

  1. Lu, C., J. Zhang, H. Tian, W. Crumpton, M. Helmers, W. Cai, C. Hopkinson, S. Lohrenz. 2020. Increased extreme precipitation challenges nitrogen load management to the Gulf of Mexico. Communications Earth & Environment

Agroecosystem modeling and sustainable agriculture assessment

Through modeling approach, we comprehensively assess the potential of agroecosystems in increasing crop yields, while maximizing resource use efficiency, and reducing GHG emissions and land-to-water nutrient loads


Current Sponsor: NSF CNH (Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems)

Selected Publications:

  1. Lu, C., J. Zhang, P. Cao, J. Hatfield. 2019. Are we getting better in using nitrogen? — Variations in nitrogen use efficiency of two cereal crops across the United States. Earth’s Future DOI: 10.1029/2019EF001155

  2. Lu, C., Z. Yu, H. Tian, D. Hennessy, H. Feng, M. Al-Kaisi, Y. Zhou, R. Arritt. 2018. Increasing carbon footprint of grain crop production in the U.S. Western Corn Belt. Environmental Research Letter

  3. Cao, P., C. Lu, and Z. Yu. 2018. Historical Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in Agricultural Ecosystem of the Continental United States during 1850–2015: Application rate, Timing, and Fertilizer Types. Earth System Science Data, 969-984. DOI:10.5194/essd-10-969-2018

  4. Yu, Z., and C. Lu. 2018. Historical cropland expansion and abandonment in the continental U.S. during 1850 to 2016. Global Ecology and Biogeography

  5. Tian, H., C. Lu, S. Pan, J. Yang, R. Miao, W. Ren, Q. Yu, B. Fu, F. Jin, J. Melillo, Z. Ouyang, C. Palm, J. Reilly. 2018. Optimizing resource use efficiencies in the Food-Energy-Water nexus for sustainable agriculture: From conceptual model to decision support system. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 33:104–113

Ecosystem model development and improvement

Use modeling approach to scale up plot-level field observation to watershed, landscape, regional and global, improve model representation of key biogeochemical and hydrological processes through data-model fusion.


Current Sponsor: NSF MacroSystems Biology and Early NEON Science

Selected Publications:

  1. Yu, Z., C. Lu, P. Cao, H. Tian, A. Hessl, and N. Pederson. 2018. Earlier leaf-flushing suppressed ecosystem productivity by draining soil water in Mongolia. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

  2. Tian, H., J. Yang, C. Lu, R. Xu, J. Canadell, R. Jackson, A. Arneth, and 18 others. 2018. The global N2O Model Intercomparison Project (NMIP): objectives, simulation protocol and expected products. Bulletin of American Meteorological Society

  3. Tian. H, C. Lu, J. Yang, K. banger, D.N. Huntzinger, C.R. Schwalm, A.M. Michalak, and MsTMIP modeling group. 2015. Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models: Current status and future directions. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 29, doi:10.1002/2014GB005021.

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Department of EEOB
2200 Osborn Dr.
Room 251 Bessey
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-1020 USA


Chaoqun (Crystal) Lu

Office: 241 Bessey Hall
Phone: (515) 294-7443
Fax: (515) 294-1337