Welcome to the MacBean Lab in the Department of Geography & Environment and the Department of Biology at Western University! Our research focuses on interactions between terrestrial vegetation, carbon, and water cycles in response to global climate and environmental change.

Human activity is directly altering the earth system via atmospheric CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and land use and land cover change. These emissions result in indirect feedbacks to the climate and to ecosystem functioning and sustainability. We need to better understand the impact of these environmental change agents on the terrestrial biosphere in order to adapt to, or mitigate, the harmful impact of climate change and human activity on our environment and society. Addressing this issue is the core of our research program.


In the MacBean Lab, we use process-based terrestrial biosphere models, together with field and satellite data analysis, to study the impact of global climate change, rising CO2 and land use/cover change and management on terrestrial ecosystems.

Our approach is two-fold: 1) to develop, test and optimize process-based terrestrial biosphere models within a statistical data assimilation framework; and 2) to use spatiotemporal data analysis to interpret field and satellite observations of ecosystem responses.

Our work spans boreal to tropical forests, temperate to semi-arid grasslands and shrublands, and scales from field site to the globe.

Current research themes in the MacBean Lab

Lab Group


Natasha MacBean

Assistant Professor

Department of Geography & Environment and Department of Biology, Western University

Email: nmacbean@uwo.ca
Twitter: @NatashaMacBean

Address: Social Science Centre Rm 2322, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5C2


Research interests: carbon cycle, vegetation dynamics, (eco)hydrology, physiology, CO2 fertilization, climate and environmental change, land management, terrestrial biosphere and earth system modeling, data assimilation, remote sensing.

Rubaya Pervin

PhD Student

Department of Geography, Indiana University – Bloomington

Email: rpervin@iu.edu

Twitter: @PervinRubaya


Research interests: Land use and land cover change, climate change, mangrove change monitoring and impact of mangrove change on the carbon sink, carbon fertilization, greening trend and land cover change, ecohydrology, remote sensing, and spatial analysis.

Past Lab Members

Kashif Mahmud

Postdoctoral Researcher (2019-2022)

Now at: Assistant Professor in the Kimbell School of Geosciences at Midwestern State University.


Heidi Takada

Undergraduate in Geography and
IU 2020 Sustainability Scholar

Now at: Carbon Neutral Indiana

Lab Group Address

Social Science Centre Rm 2322, Western University,
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5C2.


Google Scholar | ResearchGate

Student () and Postdoc () advisees are underlined

Submitted, under review, or in revision  

Bacour, C., N. MacBean, F. Chevallier, S. Léonard, E. Koffi, and P. Peylin (2022), Assimilation of multiple different datasets results in large differences in regional to global-scale NEE and GPP budgets simulated by a terrestrial biosphere model. In revision for Biogeosciences.



Wang, L., W. Jiao, N. MacBean, M. C. Ruilli, S. Manzoni, G. Vico and P. D’Odorio (2022), Dryland productivity under a changing climate: global trends, key drivers, and uncertainties. Accepted in Nature Climate Change.

Kumar, S., J. Kolassa, R. Reichle, W. Crow, G. de Lannoy, P. de Rosnay, N. MacBean, M. Girotto, A. Fox, T. Quaife, C. Draper, B. Forman, G. Balsamao, S. Steele-Dunne, C. Albergel, B. Bonan, J.-C. Calvet, J. Dong, H. Liddy, and B. Ruston (2022), An Agenda for Land Data Assimilation Priorities: Realizing the Promise of Terrestrial Water, Energy, and Vegetation Observations From Space, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 14, e2022MS003259.

Pervin, R., S. Robeson, and N. MacBean (2022), Fusion of airborne hyperspectral and LiDAR canopy-height data for estimating fractional cover of tall woody plants, herbaceous vegetation, and other soil cover types in a semi-arid savanna ecosystem, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 43, 3890-3926.

Fox, A., X. Huo, T. Hoar, H. Dashti, W. K. Smith, N. MacBean, J. A. Anderson, M. C. Roby, and D. J. P. Moore (2022), Assimilation of Global Satellite Leaf Area Estimates Reduces Modeled Global Carbon Uptake and Energy Loss by Terrestrial Ecosystems, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 127, e2022JG006830.

MacBean, N., C. Bacour, N. Raoult, V. Bastrikov, E. N. Koffi, S. Kuppel, F. Maignan, C. Ottlé, M. Peaucelle, D. Santaren, and P. Peylin (2022), Quantifying and Reducing Uncertainty in Global Carbon Cycle Predictions: Lessons and Perspectives From 15 Years of Data Assimilation Studies with the ORCHIDEE Terrestrial Biosphere Model, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 36, e2021GB007177. url

Novick, K., D. L. Ficklin, D. Baldocchi, K. J. Davis, T. Ghezzehei, A. G. Konings, N. MacBean, N. Raoult, R. L. Scott, Y. Shi, B. N. Sulman, and J. D. Wood (2022), Confronting the Water Potential Information Gap, Nature Geosciences, 15, 158-164. url

MacBean, N., H. Liddy, T. Quaife, J. Kolassa, and A. Fox (2021), Building a land data assimilation community to tackle technical challenges in quantifying and reducing uncertainty in land model predictions, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 103, E733-E740. url


Barnes, M. L., M. M. Farella, R. L. Scott, D. J.P. Moore, G. E. Ponce-Campos, J. A. Biederman, N. MacBean, M. E. Litvak, and D. D. Breshears (2021), Improved dryland carbon flux predictions with explicit consideration of water-carbon coupling, Communications: Earth & Environment, 2, 248, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00308-2. url

Mahmud, K, J. A. Biederman, R. L. Scott, M. E. Litvak, T. Kolb, T. P. Meyers, P. Krishnan, V. Bastrikov, and N. MacBean(2021), Optimizing Carbon Cycle Parameters Drastically Improves Terrestrial Biosphere Model Underestimates of Dryland Mean Net CO2 Flux and its Inter-Annual Variability, Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, 126, e2021JG006400. url

MacBean, N., R. L. Scott, J. A. Biederman, P. Peylin, T. Kolb, M. Litvak, P. Krishnan, T. Meyers, V. Arora, V. Bastrikov, D. Goll, D. L. Lombardozzi, J. Nabel, J. Pongratz, S. Sitch, A. P. Walker, S. Zaehle, and D. J. P. Moore (2021), Dynamic Global Vegetation Models Underestimate Net COFlux Mean and Inter-Annual Variability in Semiarid Ecosystems, Environmental Research Letters, 16, 094023. url pdf


MacBean, N., R.L. Scott, J.A. Biederman, C. Ottlé, N. Vuichard, A. Ducharne, T. Kolb, S. Dore, M. Litvak and D.J.P. Moore (2020), Testing water fluxes and storage from two hydrology configurations within the ORCHIDEE land surface model across US semi-arid sites, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 24, 5203-5230. pdf url

Walker, A. P., M. G. De Kauwe, A. Bastos, S. Belmecheri, K. Georgiou, R. Keeling, S. McMahon, B. E. Medlyn, D. J. P. Moore, R. J. Norby, S. Zaehle, K. J. Anderson-Teixeira, G. Battipaglia, R. J. W. Brienen, K. Cabugao, M. Cailleret, E. Campbell, J. Canadell, P. Ciais, M. E. Craig, D. Ellsworth, G. Farquhar, S. Fatichi, J. B. Fisher, D. Frank, H. Graven, L. Gu, V. Haverd, K. Heilman, M. Heimann, B. A. Hungate, C. M. Iversen, F. Joos, M. Jiang, T. F. Keenan, J. Knauer, W. K. Smith, C. Körner, V. O. Leshyk, S. Leuzinger, Y. Liu, N. MacBean, Y. Malhi, T. McVicar, J. Penuelas, J. Pongratz, A. Shafer Powell, T. Riutta, M. E. B. Sabot, J. Schleucher, S. Sitch, B. Sulman, B. Taylor, C. Terrer, M. Torn, K. Treseder, A. T. Trugman, S. Trumbore, P. J. van Mantgem, S. L. Voelker, M. Whelan, and P. Ziudema (2020), Integrating evidence for a terrestrial carbon sink caused by increasing atmospheric CO2New Phytologist, 229, 2413–2445. url

Parazoo, N., T. Magney, A. Norton, B. Raczka, C. Bacour, F. Maignan, I. Baker, Y. Zhang, B. Qiu, M. Shi, N. MacBean, D. Bowling, S. Burns, P. Blanken, J. Stutz, K. Grossman, and C. Frankenberg (2020), Wide Discrepancies in the Magnitude and Direction of Modelled SIF in Response to Light Conditions, Biogeosciences, 17, 3733-3755. pdf

Smith, W.K., A. Fox, N. MacBean, D.J.P. Moore and N. Parazoo (2020), Constraining estimates of terrestrial carbon uptake: New opportunities using long-term satellite observations and data assimilation, New Phytologist, 225, 105-112, doi: 10.1111/nph.16055. (Invited Tansley Insight). url pdf


Smith, W.K., M. Dannenberg, D. Yan, S. Herrmann, M.L. Barnes, G.A. Barron-Gafford, J.A. Biederman, S. Ferrenberg, A.M. Fox, A.R. Hudson, J.F. Knowles, N. MacBean, D.J.P. Moore, P.L. Nagler, S.C. Reed, W.A. Rutherford, R.L. Scott, X. Wang and J. Yang (2019), Remote sensing of dryland ecosystem structure and function: Progress, challenges and opportunities, Remote Sensing of Environment, 233, 111401. url.

Bacour, C., F. Maignan, P. Peylin, N. MacBean, V. Bastrikov, J. Joiner, P. Köhler, L. Guanter, and C. Frankenberg (2019), Differences between OCO2 and GOME2 SIF products from a model-data fusion perspective, JGR-Biogeosciences, 124, 31433157url.

Bacour, C., F. Maignan, N. MacBean, A. Porcar-Castell, J. Flexas, C. Frankenberg, P. Peylin, F. Chevallier and N. Vuichard (2019), Improving estimates of Gross Primary Productivity by assimilating solar-induced fluorescence satellite retrievals in a terrestrial biosphere model using a mechanistic SIF model,  JGR-Biogeosciences 124, doi: 10.1029/2019JG005040. url.

Duncanson, L., J. Armston, M. Disney, V. Avitabile, N. Barbier, K. Calders, S. Carter, J. Chave, M. Herold, T. Crowther, M. Falkowski, J. Kellner, N. Labrière, R. Lucas, N. MacBean, R.E. McRoberts, V. Meyer, E. Næsset, J.E. Nickeson, K.I. Paul, O.L. Phillips, M. Réjou- Méchain, M. Román, S. Roxburgh, S. Saatchi, D. Schepashenko, K. Scipal, P.R. Siqueira, M. Williams, and A. Whitehurst (2019), The Importance of Consistent Global Forest Aboveground Biomass Product Validation. Surveys in Geophysics, 40, 979-999. doi: 10.1007/s10712-019-09538-8. url

Exbrayat, J.-F., A. A. Bloom, N. Carvalhais, R. Fischer, A. Huth, N. MacBean and M. Williams (2019), Understanding the land carbon cycle with space data: current status and prospects. Surveys in Geophysics, 40, 735-755. doi: 10.1007/s10712-019-09506-2. url


Bastrikov, V., N. MacBean, C. Bacour, D. Santaren, S. Kuppel and P. Peylin (2018), Land surface model parameter optimisation using in-situ flux data: comparison of gradient-based versus random search algorithms, Geoscientific Model Development, 11, 4739-4754. pdf

Fox, A.M., T.J. Hoar, J.L. Anderson, A.F. Arellano, W.K. Smith, M.E. Litvak, N. MacBean, D.S. Schimel, and D.J.P. Moore (2018), Evaluation of a Data Assimilation System for Land Surface Models using CLM4.5. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10, 2471–24942. pdf

Liu, D., Y. Li, T. Wang, P. Peylin, N. MacBean, P. Ciais, G. Jia, M. Ma, Y. Ma, M. Shen,  X. Zhang and S. Piao (2018), Contrasting responses of grassland water and carbon exchanges to climate change between the Tibetan Plateau and Inner Mongolia, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 249, 163-175. url

MacBean, N., F. Maignan, C. Bacour, P. Lewis, P. Peylin, L. Guanter, P. Köhler, J. Gomez-Dans and M. Disney (2018), Strong constraint on modeled global carbon uptake using solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence data, Scientific Reports, 8, 1973, doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20024-w. pdf

Li, W., N. MacBean, P. Ciais, P. Defourny, C. Lamarche, S. Bontemps, R. A. Houghton and S. Peng (2018), Gross and net land cover changes in the main plant functional types derived from the annual ESA CCI land cover maps (1992–2015). Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 219-234. pdf

Smith, W.K., J.A Biederman, R.L. Scott, D.J.P. Moore, M. He, J.S. Kimball, D. Yan, A. Hudson, M.L. Barnes, N. MacBean, A. Fox and M.E. Litvak (2018), Chlorophyll fluorescence better captures seasonal and interannual gross primary productivity dynamics across dryland ecosystems of southwestern North America, Geophys. Res. Lett., 45, 748757url


Hartley, A., N. MacBean, G. Georgievski and S. Bontemps (2017), Uncertainty in plant functional type distributions and its impact on land surface models. Remote Sensing of Environment, 203, 71-89. url

Montané, F., Fox, A. M., Arellano, A. F., MacBean, N., Alexander, M. R., Dye, A., Bishop, D. A., Trouet, V., Babst, F., Hessl, A. E., Pederson, N., Blanken, P. D., Bohrer, G., Gough, C. M., Litvak, M. E., Novick, K. A., Phillips, R. P., Wood, J. D., and Moore, D. J. P. (2017), Evaluating the effect of alternative carbon allocation schemes in a land surface model (CLM4.5) on carbon fluxes, pools and turnover in temperate forests, Geosci. Model Dev. 10, 3499-3517, https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-10-3499-2017.  pdf

Li, Y., H. Yang, T. Wang, N. MacBean, C. Bacour, P. Ciais, Y. Zhang, G. Zhou and S. Piao (2017), Reducing the uncertainty of parameters controlling seasonal carbon and water fluxes in Chinese forests, and its implication for simulated climate sensitivities, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 31, doi:10.1002/2017GB005714.

Walker, A. P., T. Quaife, P. M. van Bodegom, M. G. De Kauwe, T. F. Keenan, J. Joiner, M. R. Lomas, N. MacBean, C. Xu, X. Yang and F. I. Woodward (2017), The impact of alternative trait-scaling hypotheses for the maximum photosynthetic carboxylation rate (Vcmax) on global gross primary production, New Phytologist, 215, 1370–1386, doi:10.1111/nph.14623. url

Thum, T., N. MacBean, P. Peylin, C. Bacour, D. Santaren, B. Longdoz, D. Loustau and P. Ciais (2017) The potential benefit of using forest biomass data in addition to carbon and water flux measurements to constrain ecosystem model parameters: case studies at two temperate forest sites, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 234, 48-65. url


MacBean, N., P. Peylin, F. Chevallier, M. Scholze, M., and G. Schürmann (2016) Consistent assimilation of multiple data streams in a carbon cycle data assimilation system, Geoscientific Model Development, 9, 3569-3588, doi:10.5194/gmd-9-3569-2016. url pdf

Peylin, P., C. Bacour, N. MacBean, S. Leonard, P.J. Rayner, S. Kuppel, E.N. Koffi, A. Kane, F. Maignan, F. Chevallier, P. Ciais and P. Prunet (2016), A new step-wise Carbon Cycle Data Assimilation System using multiple data streams to constrain the simulated land surface carbon cycle, Geoscientific Model Development, 9, 3321-3346, doi:10.5194/gmd-9-3321-2016. url pdf

Li, W., P. Ciais, N. MacBean, S. Peng, P. Defourny and S. Bontemps (2016), Major forest changes and land cover transitions based on plant functional types derived from the ESA CCI Land Cover product. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 47, 30-39. url 


MacBean, N., F. Maignan, P. Peylin, C. Bacour, P. Ciais and F.-M. Bréon (2015), Using satellite data to improve the leaf phenology of a global terrestrial biosphere model, Biogeosciences, 12, 7185-7208. url pdf

Bacour, C., P. Peylin, N. MacBean, P. J. Rayer, F. Delage, F. Chevallier,  M. Weiss, J. Demarty, D. Santaren,  F. Baret, D. Berveiller, E. Dufrêne and P. Prunet (2015), Joint assimilation of eddy-covariance flux measurements and satellite observations within a process-oriented biosphere model, Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences, 120, 1839–1857, doi: 10.1002/2015JG002966. url pdf

Poulter, B., N. MacBean, A. Hartley, I. Khlystova, O. Arino, R. Betts,
 S. Bontemps, M. Boettcher, C. Brockmann, P. Defourny, S. Hagemann, M. Herold, G. Kirches, C. Lamarche, D. Lederer, C. Ottlé, M. Peters, and P. Peylin (2015), Plant functional type classification for Earth System Models: results from the European Space Agency’s Land Cover Climate Change Initiative, Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 2315-2328, doi:10.5194/gmd-8-2315-2015. url pdf

Naudts, K., J. Ryder, M. J. McGrath, J. Otto, Y. Chen, A. Valade, V. Bellasen, G. Berhongaray, G. Bönisch, M. Campioli, J. Ghattas, T. De Groote, V. Haverd, J. Kattge, N. MacBean, F. Maignan, P. Merilä, J. Penuelas, P. Peylin, B. Pinty, H. Pretzsch, E. D. Schulze, D. Solyga, N. Vuichard, Y. Yan, and S. Luyssaert (2015) A vertically discretised canopy description for ORCHIDEE (SVN r2290) and the modifications to the energy, water and carbon fluxes, Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 2035-2065. url pdf

Wang, X., S. Piao, X. Xu, P. Ciais, N. MacBean, R.B. Myneni and L. Li (2015) Has the advancing onset of spring vegetation green-up slowed down or changed abruptly over the past three decades? Global Ecology and Biogeography, 24, 621-631, doi: 10.1111/geb12289. url pdf


MacBean, N. and P. Peylin (2014), Biogeochemistry: Agriculture and the Global Carbon Cycle, Nature (News and Views), 515, 351-352, doi: 10.1038/515351a. url pdf

Traore, A., P. Ciais, N. Vuichard, N.MacBean, C. Dardel, B. Poulter, S.    Piao, J.B. Fisher, N. Viovy, M. Jung and R. Myneni (2014) 1982-2010 Trends of Light use Efficiency and Inherent Water use Efficiency in African vegetation: Sensitivity to Climate and Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations, Remote Sensing, 6, 8923-8944, doi: 10.3390/rs6098923. url pdf


Walker, R.T., M. Talebian, S. Saiffori, R.A. Sloan, A. Rasheedi, N. MacBean and A. Ghassemi (2010) Active faulting, earthquakes, and restraining bend development near Kerman city in southeastern Iran, Journal of Structural Geology, 32(8), 1046-1060. url pdf

Book chapters and other published works

Duncanson, L., Armston, J., Disney, M., Avitabile, V., Barbier, N., Calders, K., Carter, S., Chave, J., Herold, M., MacBean, N., McRoberts, R., Minor, D., Paul, K., Réjou-Méchain, M., Roxburgh, S., Williams, M., Albinet, C., Baker, T., Bartholomeus, H., Bastin, J.F., Coomes, D., Crowther, T., Davies, S., de Bruin, S., De Kauwe, M., Domke, G., Dubayah, R., Falkowski, M., Fatoyinbo, L., Goetz, S., Jantz, P., Jonckheere, I., Jucker, T., Kay, H., Kellner, J., Labriere, N., Lucas, R., Mitchard, E., Morsdorf, F., Naesset, E., Park, T., Phillips, O.L., Ploton, P., Puliti, S., Quegan, S., Saatchi, S., Schaaf, C., Schepaschenko, D., Scipal, K., Stovall, A., Thiel, C., Wulder, M.A., Camacho, F., Nickeson, J., Román, M., Margolis, H. (2021). Aboveground Woody Biomass Product Validation Good Practices Protocol. Version 1.0. In L. Duncanson, M. Disney, J. Armston, J. Nickeson, D. Minor, and F. Camacho (Eds.), Good Practices for Satellite Derived Land Product Validation, (p. 236): Land Product Validation Subgroup (WGCV/CEOS), doi:10.5067/doc/ceoswgcv/lpv/agb.001.

Conference proceedings

Kato, T., F. Maignan, N. MacBean, P. Peylin, N. Vuichard, Y. Goulas, F. Daumard, I. Moya, A. Porcar-Castell and C. Nicol (2014) Relationship of the model-simulated productivity with the in-situ fluorescence measurements at two flux sites, 5th International Workshop on Remote Sensing of Fluorescence. Paris, France.

MacBean, N., M. Disney, J. Gomez-Dans, P. Lewis and P. Ineson (2010) Using satellite measurements of surface soil moisture to improve estimates of CO2 and CH4 from peatlands, European Space Agency Living Planet Symposium. Bergen, Norway.


Potential students and postdocs

I am happy to hear from students and postdocs who are interested in working with me on using land surface/terrestrial biosphere models to study the impacts of climate and environmental change on terrestrial ecosystems. Please email me with a CV and brief statement of research interests and experience.

Currently I’m seeking MSc and PhD students focused on one of the two topics (although exact research questions are open):

1) Application of statistical model-data integration (data assimilation) to constrain process-based model global carbon budgets and carbon-climate feedbacks.

2) Field and satellite data analysis and process based terrestrial ecosystem modelling to improve understanding and predictions of dryland ecosystem structure and functioning under a changing climate.

Graduate students

Students interested in pursuing an MSc or PhD at Western University in either the Department of Geography & Environment or Department of Biology should take a look at the following webpages for admissions requirements and application process at the following websites: https://geoenvironment.uwo.ca/graduate/future_students/index.html and https://www.uwo.ca/biology/graduate/prospective/index.html. 

Note that you must have secured a supervisor before applying to the program. Please contact nmacbean@uwo.ca if you are interested in working with the MacBean Lab. 

A complete funding package is provided by the department and university. I will support all graduate students in applying for additional internal and external research grants such as:

NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s Program

NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral Program

Ontario Graduate Scholarship

For more information on all external funding sources please see this page: https://grad.uwo.ca/finances/external_funding/index.html

Undergraduate students

Undergraduate students wishing to pursue honours theses or summer research internships in my lab should contact nmacbean@uwo.ca to inquire whether I am taking new students for the following terms/summer. Please also include a CV and a brief statement on why you are interested in pursuing research and which topics or skillsets you are interested in. 

If I am accepting new students for the following summer, I will support students in applying for the following internal and external funding opportunities:

Western Undergraduate Summer Research Internship

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Postdoctoral Scholars

Postdocs wishing to pursue research in my lab should email me with a CV and research proposal (noting the current research themes I am focused on, as listed above).

Please note: I do not currently have postdoc positions available in my lab; however, several internal and external fellowship opportunities exist. Please see the following pages for more information: 

 Also see the links in this article for a free database of worldwide funding opportunities.