Accessible Navigation. Go to: Navigation Main Content Footer

Faculty Image John S. Kimball
Office: DHC 005
Phone: (406) 243-4922
Website: Click Here
Curriculum Vita: View/Download CV


Current Position:

Research Professor

Flathead Lake Biological Station, Division of Biological Sciences


John S. Kimball is a Professor of Systems Ecology at the University of Montana. He received the B.A. and M.A. degrees in Physical Geography at San Diego State University in 1987 and 1990, and the Ph.D. in Bioresource Engineering from Oregon State University in 1995. His research interests include the integration of ecological theory with satellite remote sensing and computer modeling for better understanding terrestrial ecosystem structure and function, from single plot to global scales. Dr. Kimball is a member of the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission Science Definition Team and EOS MODIS and AMSR-E instrument science teams, and is working towards improved measurement and monitoring of global carbon and water cycles through synergistic use of biophysical process models and satellite remote sensing. He is an avid swimmer, hiker and kayaker and enjoys the wilds of NW Montana with his family.

Field Of Study:

Hydrology / Ecology Research

Research Interests:

My expertise and interests include the study of climate impacts to water resources and ecosystems; water, energy and carbon cycle interactions; remote sensing; hydrological and ecosystem process modeling. My research activities integrate ecological theory, field measurements and emerging technologies including satellite optical and microwave remote sensing, geographic information systems, and computer simulation models to describe the function, distribution and condition of vegetation and underlying environmental drivers across the landscape. I emphasize an ecosystem perspective for understanding physical and biological processes and interactions, integrating across disciplines and various scales.

Examples of recent research projects:

Title: An Earth system data record for land surface freeze/thaw state: Quantifying terrestrial water mobility constraints to global ecosystem processes; Sponsoring agency: NASA (MEaSUREs program); Role: PI;

Title: Vegetation phenology assessment using satellite radar remote sensing: Global monitoring of daily and seasonal changes in canopy structure and water status; Sponsoring agency: NASA (Terrestrial Ecology program); Role: PI;

Title: Pan-Arctic assessment of terrestrial freeze-thaw state and associated biophysical constraints to northern vegetation productivity; Sponsoring agency: NASA (Earth System Science Research); Role: PI;

Title: Satellite monitoring of landscape freeze-thaw state and associated constraints to the North American carbon budget; Sponsoring agency: NASA (NACP program); Role: PI;

Title: Warming and drying of the Arctic: Surface moisture as an integrator of the interactions of biological, geochemical, geological, physical and anthropogenic processes at diverse temporal and spatial scales; Sponsoring agency: NSF (Biocomplexity program); Role: PI.


Ph.D. 1995. Bioresource Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR.
M.A. 1990. Physical Geography, San Diego State University, San Diego CA
B.A. 1987. Physical Geography, San Diego State University, San Diego CA


-  NASA Polar Data Advisory Group (PoDAG);

-  NASA EOS MODIS and AMSR-E instrument science teams;

-  NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission science transition & definition Teams;

-  Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing;

-  NASA ESSP Hydros mission science team;

-  NASA Earth Science Data System Working Group (DSWG);

-  Land Product Validation Sub-Group of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites Working Grooup on Calibration and Validation (CEOS WGCV);

-  NASA Terrestrial Ecology program Working Group on Modeling;

-  NSF SEARCH program Cooperative Data and Information Service (AON-CADIS) data advisory group;

-  University of Montana NSF EPSCoR Steering Committee;

-  Member: American Geophysical Union (AGU);

-  Member: IEEE Geoscience & Remote Sensing Society.

International Experience:

Visiting Professor, Dept. of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing China (2011).



Selected Publications:

Jones, M.O., J.S. Kimball, K.C. McDonald, and L.A. Jones, 2011. Utilizing satellite passive microwave remote sensing for monitoring global land surface phenology. Remote Sensing of Environment 115, 1102-1114.

Kim, Y., J.S. Kimball, K. Zhang, and K.C. McDonald, 2012. Satellite detection of increasing northern hemisphere non-frozen seasons from 1979 to 2008: Implications for regional vegetation growth. Remote Sensing of Environment 121, 472-487.

Kimball, J.S., L.A. Jones, K. Zhang, F.A. Heinsch, K.C. McDonald, and W.C. Oechel, 2009. A satellite approach to estimate land-atmosphere CO2 exchange for Boreal and Arctic biomes using MODIS and AMSR-E. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 47(2), 569-587.

Velicogna, I., J. Tong, T. Zhang, and J.S. Kimball, 2012. Increasing subsurface water storage in discontinuous permafrost areas of the Lena River basin, Eurasia, detected from GRACE. Geophysical Research Letters 39, doi: 10.1029/2012GL051623.

Whited, D., J.S. Kimball and J.A Stanford, 2011. Estimation of juvenile salmon habitat in Pacific Rim rivers using multi-scalar remote sensing and geospatial analysis. River Research and Applications doi:10.1002/rra.1585.

Whited, D.C., J.S. Kimball, J.A. Lucotch, N.K. Maumenee, H. Wu, S.D. Chilcote, and J.A. Stanford, 2012. A riverscape analysis tool developed to assist wild salmon conservation across the north pacific rim. Fisheries 37 (7), 305-314 (cover article).

Wu, H., J.S. Kimball, N. Mantua, and J.A. Stanford, 2011. Automated upscaling of river networks for macroscale hydrological modeling. Water Resources Research 47, W03517, doi:10.1029WR008871.

Yi, Y., J.S. Kimball, L.A. Jones, R.H. Reichle and K.C. McDonald, 2011. Evaluation of MERRA land surface estimates in preparation for the Soil Moisture Active Passive Mission. Journal of Climate 24(15), 3797-3816.

Zhang, K., J.S. Kimball, R.R. Nemani, and S.W. Running, 2010. A continuous satellite-derived global record of land surface evapotranspiration from 1983-2006. Water Resources Research 46, W09522, doi:10.1029/2009WR008800.

Other Publications:

Jones, L.A., and J.S. Kimball, 2010. Daily Global Land Surface Parameters Derived from AMSR-E. Boulder Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media (

Kim, Y., J.S. Kimball, and K.C. McDonald, 2010. MEaSUREs Global Record of Daily Landscape Freeze/Thaw Status, Version 01 [1988 to 2007]. Boulder Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media (

McDonald, K.C, and J.S. Kimball, 2005. Hydrological application of remote sensing: Freeze-thaw states using both active and passive microwave sensors. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. Part 5. Remote Sensing. M.G. Anderson and J.J. McDonnell (Eds.), John Wiley & Sons Ltd. DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa059a.

McDonald, K.C., and J.S. Kimball, 2006. Boreal Forests: A lengthening growing season. In: King, M. D., C. L. Parkinson, K. C. Partington, and R. G. Williams (Eds): Our Changing Planet: The View from Space, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., pp. 86-88.