Dr. Zachary Easton

Biological Systems Engineering

The primary focus of Dr. Easton’s work is to improve our understanding of hydrologic and terrestrial processes that control biogeochemical cycles and fluxes with the ultimate goal of developing policies and management practices that protect water, soil, and other natural resources. Water is typically Dr. Easton’s central focus because it is arguably the most critical and at-risk resource to humans and ecosystems. His research addresses both native and managed systems, considers processes at plot- to large river basin-scales, and is relatively evenly divided among field study/monitoring, modeling, and application of results to real world problems. Three broad and somewhat overlapping research themes around which Dr. Easton focuses are:


1. Impact of land use and climate change on water quality and quantity, 2. Impact of watershed management practices on water quality, and 3. Bridging basic research and modeling to management and application.

Dr. Easton has extensive international experience related to global change: evaluating the impact of climate change and intervention measures on erosion and sedimentation in the Ethiopian Blue Nile Basin; cloud forest hydrology in Central America; and evaluating weather patterns in Puerto Rico. Ongoing projects focus on determining relationships among biogeochemical hotspots, landscape hydrology, and the impact that climate change and variability have on these processes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and how climate change impacts the phenology of agricultural management and the ensuing effect on water quality, also in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

He is the Virginia representative to the Southeast Region Climate Hub, an elected member of the USEPA Chesapeake Bay Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, past chair of SERA-43 (the “Water” SERA), and an advisor to the NRCS on revisions to the 590 Nutrient Management Standard P-Index.



Recent Relevant Publications

Easton, Z.M., P.J. Kleinman, A.R. Buda, D. Goering, N. Emberston, S. Reed, P.J. Drohan, M.T. Walter, Guinan, J.A. Lory, A.R. Sommerlot*, A. Sharpley. 2017. Short-term forecasting tools for agricultural nutrient management. J. Environ. Qual. doi:10.2134/jeq2016.09.0377.

Sharpley, A., P. Kleinman, C. Baffuat, Z.M. Easton, J. Lory, D. Osmond, T. Veith. 2017. Verification of phosphorus site assessment tools: Lessons from The U.S. Environ. Qual. (In Press).

Rees, G.*, E.M. Bock*, K. Stephenson, and Z.M. Easton. 2017. Nutrient biofilters in the Virginia Coastal Plain: Nitrogen removal, cost, and potential adoption pathways. J. Soil and Water Conserv. (In Press).

Wagena, M.B.*, A.R. Sommerlot*, E.M. Bock*, D.R. Fuka*, and Z.M. Easton. 2017. Development of a nitrous oxide routine for the SWAT model to assess greenhouse gas emissions from agroecosystems. Environ. Model. Software. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.11.013.

Sommerlot, A.R.*, M.B. Wagena*, D.R. Fuka* and Z.M. Easton.2016. Coupling the short-term Global Forecast System weather data with a variable source area hydrologic model. Environ. Model. Software. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.09.0081364-8152.

Wagena, M,B,*,  A. Sommerlot*, A. Abiy, D.R. Fuka*, A.S. Collick*, Langan, and Z.M. Easton. 2016. Regional climate change In the Blue Nile Basin: Implications for water resource availability and sediment transport. Climatic Change doi: 10.1007/s10584-016-1785-z.

Fuka D.R.,* A.S. Collick*, P. Kleinman, D. Auerbach*, D, Harmel, Z.M. Easton. 2016. Improving the spatial representation of soil properties and hydrology using topographically derived initialization processes in the SWAT model. Hydrol. Proc. doi: 10.1002/hyp.10899.

Auerbach, D.*, Z.M. Easton, M.T. Walter, A.S. Flecker, D.R. Fuka*. 2016. Evaluation of alternative weather forcing for hydrologic modeling in tropical basins of Puerto Rico. Hydrol. Proc. doi:10.1002/hyp.10860.

Collick, A.S.*, T.L. Veith, D.R. Fuka*, P.J.A. Kleinman, A.R. Buda, J.L. Weld, R.B. Bryant, P.A. Vadas, M.J. White, D. Harmel, and Z.M. Easton. 2016. Improved simulation of edaphic and manure phosphorus loss in SWAT. J. Environ. Qual. doi:10.2134/jeq2015.03.0135

Bock, E.M.*, B. Coleman*, and Z.M. Easton. 2015. Effect of biochar on nitrate removal in a field-scale denitrifying bioreactor. J. Environ. Qual. doi:10.2134/jeq2015.04.0179