Dr. Thomas is an associate professor of forest dynamics and ecosystem modeling in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech. Before arriving to Virginia Tech, he was a postdoctoral scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.
Thomas’ research at Virginia Tech focuses on the interactions among ecosystem dynamics, climate change, and air pollution, with a particular emphasis on carbon cycling in forests. Key areas of global change research include: 1) investigating how forests and forest management influence climate through numerous pathways that include altering greenhouse gas exchange and surface energy balance, 2) simulating coupled biogeochemical cycles in Earth System Models that are used in climate change predictions, and 3) studying how nitrogen pollution and climate impact carbon storage in forests.
In the News:
Recent relevant publications:
Van Houtven, G., J. Phelan, C. Clark, R. Sabo, J. Buckley, R. Q. Thomas, K. J. Horn, and S.D. LeDuc. Nitrogen Deposition and Climate Change Effects on Tree Species Composition and Ecosystem Services: A Cohort Analysis. Ecological Monographs. Accepted.
Jinshi, J., M.K. Steele, S. Day, and R. Q. Thomas. 2018. Future global soil respiration rates will swell despite regional decreases in temperature sensitivity caused by rising temperatures. Earth’s Future 6: 1539 – 1554 [link]
Chu, H., D. D. Baldocchi, C. Poindexter, M. Abraha, A. Desai, G. Bohrer, A. Arain, T. Griffis, P. Blanken, T. O’Halloran, R. Q. Thomas, Q. Zhang, S. Burns, D. Christian, S. Brown, A. Black, C. Gough, B. E. Law, X. Lee, Ji. Chen, D. Reed, K. Clark, J. Hatfield, J. Prueger, R. Bracho, and T. A. Martin. 2018. Temporal dynamics of aerodynamic canopy height derived from eddy covariance momentum data collected across North American Flux Networks. Geophysical Research Letters 45: 9275-9287 [link]
Thomas. R. Q., A. Jersild, E. Brooks, V. A. Thomas, and R. H. Wynne. 2018. A mid-century ecological forecast with partitioned uncertainty predicts increases in loblolly pine forest productivity. Ecological Applications 28: 1503-1519 [link]
Jian, J., M.K. Steele, R. Q. Thomas, S. Day, and S. Hodges. 2018. Constraining global soil respiration by quantifying sources of uncertainty. Global Change Biology 24: 4143- 4159 [link]
Ahlswede, B. J. and R. Q. Thomas. 2017. Community Earth System Model Simulations Reveal the Relative Importance of Afforestation and Forest Management to Surface Temperature in Eastern North America. Forests 8: 499 [link]
Thomas, R. Q., E. Brooks, A. Jersild, E. Ward, R. H. Wynne, T.J. Albaugh, H. D. Aldridge, H. E. Burkhart, J-C Domec, T. R. Fox, C. A. Gonzalez-Benecke, A. Noormets, D. A. Sampson, and R. O. Teskey. 2017. Leveraging 35 years of Pinus taeda research in the southeastern US to constrain forest carbon cycle predictions: regional data assimilation using ecosystem experiments. Biogeosciences 14: 3525 – 3547 [link]
Niu, S, A.T. Classen, J. Dukes, P. Kardol, L. Liu, Y. Luo, L. Rustad, J. Tang, P.H. Templer, R. Q. Thomas, D. Tian, S. Vicca, Y-P Wang, J. Xia, and S. Zaehle. 2016. Global Patterns and Fundamental Mechanisms of the Terrestrial Nitrogen Cycle. Ecology Letters 19: 697-709. [link]
Hurtt, G.C., R.Q. Thomas, J. Fisk, R. Dubayah, and S. Sheldon. 2016. The Impact of Fine-scale Disturbances on the Predictability of Vegetation Dynamics and Carbon Flux. PLOS ONE 11: e0152883 [link]
Burd, A.B., S. Frey, A. Cabre, T. Ito, N.M. Levine, C. Lønborg, M. Long, M. Mauritz, R.Q. Thomas, B. Stevens, T. Vanwallenghem, and N. Zeng. 2015. Terrestrial and marine perspectives on modeling organic matter degradation pathways. Global Change Biology 22, 121–136 [link]
Bracco, A.B, M.C. Long, N.M. Levine, R.Q. Thomas, C. Deutsch, and G.A. McKinely. 2015. NCAR’s Summer Colloquium: Capacity building in Cross-disciplinary Research of Earth System Carbon-climate Connections. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 96: 1381–1384. [link]
Thomas, R.Q., E.N.J. Brookshire, and S. Gerber. 2015. Nitrogen limitation on land: How can it occur in Earth system models? Global Change Biology 21: 1777–1793 [link]