Welcome to the MacBean Lab in the Department of Geography at Indiana University!

In the MacBean Lab we study the response vegetation, carbon, and water cycles to climate change, rising CO2, and land use and land cover change. Our approach is two-fold: 1) to develop, test and optimize process-based terrestrial biosphere models; and 2) to use spatiotemporal data analysis to interpret field and satellite observations. Our work spans scales from ecosystems to the globe, from boreal to tropical forests, and from temperate to semi-arid grasslands and shrublands.


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 feedbacks to climate and ecosystem functioning and sustainability. We need to better understand the impact of these environmental change agents on the terrestrial carbon cycle and vegetation 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 core to my research program.

Current research themes in the MacBean Lab
Patterns and drivers of vegetation seasonal phenology and long-term greening trends
The role of semi-arid ecosystems in the global carbon cycle
Improving terrestrial carbon cycle projection uncertainty
Mapping and modeling land cover change
Presentations resulting from this research can be viewed here.


Lab Group

cropped-20140809_1422411.jpgNatasha MacBean

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Indiana University

Email: nmacbean@indiana.edu
Phone: +1 (812) 855-7971
Twitter: @NatashaMacBean



Research interests: carbon cycle, vegetation dynamics (phenology and long-term trends), ecohydrology, physiology, ecosystem functioning, CO2 fertilization, global environmental change, climate change, land use and land cover change, terrestrial biosphere modeling, earth system modeling, data assimilation, remote sensing.


Rubaya Pervin

PhD Student, Department of Geography, Indiana University

Email: rpervin@iu.edu

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


Lab Group Address:
Department of Geography,
Indiana University,
Student Building 120,
701 E Kirkwood Ave,
Bloomington, IN 47405-7100


Google Scholar | ResearchGate

Submitted, under review, or in revision

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, The importance of global land product validation: towards a standardized protocol for aboveground biomass. Submitted to Surveys in Geophysics.

Exbrayat, J.-F., A. A. Bloom, N. Carvalhais, R. Fischer, A. Huth, N. MacBean and M. Williams, Understanding the land carbon cycle with space data: current status and prospects. Submitted to Surveys in Geophysics.

Bastrikov, V., N. MacBean, C. Bacour, D. Santaren, S. Kuppel and P. Peylin, Land surface model parameter optimisation using in-situ flux data: comparison of gradient-based versus random search algorithms. In revision for Geoscientific Model Development.



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, Evaluation of a Data Assimilation System for Land Surface Models using CLM4.5. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018MS001362. 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 based on plant functional types derived from the annual ESA CCI land cover maps. 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

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


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.  url

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

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.



Current postings

Data Scientist/Software Engineer

The Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University is hiring a Data Scientist/Software Engineer to provide data management and software engineering support for complex modeling systems on the high-performance computing environment. The successful candidate will provide support to researchers, including myself, conducting climate, vegetation, and hydrological modeling (e.g. ORCHIDEE, CLM) via software installation, customization, code development and/or upgrading modeling systems.

Full details and application here: https://iujobs.peopleadmin.com/postings/67957


I will soon be looking for a post-doctoral research scientist and/or scientific programmer (depending on the skills and interests of applicants) to work on reducing uncertainty in carbon cycle model projections. Strong programming skills are essential (preferably in Python and Fortran). Background in earth system or land surface modeling and data assimilation/Bayesian inversion is desirable but not essential. If you might be interested in this position, please send me an email with a CV and short summary of your research interests and experience.

Potential students and postdocs

I am always keen to hear from students and postdocs who are interested in working with me 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. The deadline for graduate student admissions in the Department of Geography at Indiana University is 15th December: http://geography.indiana.edu/graduate/admissions.shtml

Also take a look the opportunities to apply for funding below:

Graduate students

– NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=6201&org=DGE&from=home and https://www.nsfgrfp.org (usually due in October)
– NSF DDRI: Geography and Spatial Sciences: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503621
– NSF International Research Experience for Students: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=12831
– NASA Earth and Space Science (graduate) Fellowship: https://science.nasa.gov/learners/learner-opportunities#gradops


– NSF Earth Science Postdoctoral Fellowships: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503144&org=NSF
– (For European Citizens) European Commission Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship: https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/actions/individual-fellowships_en