Skip to Main Content

 The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group

Tristram West

Tristram West conducts analyses of the impact of land management on carbon dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions.  His work includes the development of empirical models, mechanistic models, and the use of satellite remote sensing.  His research to date has focused on agricultural systems, particularly changes in soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that occur following changes in agricultural management, and improvement of agricultural carbon flux estimates.  He has contributed to IPCC, EPA, and USDA guidelines for greenhouse gas accounting.  Dr. West is also involved in the North American Carbon Program where he quantifies carbon sources and sinks associated with agricultural practices that are then compared and integrated with eddy covariance flux estimates and with atmospheric inverse model results.  Dr. West has contributed to the POLYSYS agricultural economics model since 2004 by helping with the integration of carbon dynamics into the model.  This has included CO2 from energy use and fossil fuel emissions from agricultural production inputs, changes in soil carbon, emissions of N2O from fertilizer use, and CO2 emission from the application of lime.  Remote sensing products, including MODIS, Landsat, and the USDA Cropland Data Layer, have also been used within POLYSYS to better represent the spatial heterogeneity of environmental variables.  Dr. West applies his research to address issues of carbon sequestration, bioenergy production, carbon monitoring and verification, and future land management and land-use change.

Current Position

Research Scientist, 2010 – present.
Pacific Northwest Nat. Lab.
, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland.


Ph.D., Agronomy, Ohio State University, 1999.
Concentrations: Landscape Ecology and Ecological Modeling
M.S., Natural Resources, Ohio State University, 1996.
Concentrations: Ecosystem Rehabilitation and Ecological Modeling
B.S., Agriculture, University of Kentucky, 1994.
Curriculum: Natural Resources Conservation and Management

Primary Research Interests

  • Effects of land management on biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Quantitative modeling of the impacts of carbon sequestration strategies and other climate change mitigation options on net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere
  • Use of remote sensing and geographic information systems to quantify soil attributes and biogeochemical cycling
  • Integrated assessment of climate change impacts and mitigation
  • Environmental effects of policies intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Professional Service And Activities

  • Elected member to the North American Carbon Program, Mid-Continent Intensive Campaign Task Force, 2005-present.
  • Associate Editor, Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2007 - present.
  • USDA Croplands/Grazing Lands Working Group for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from forest and agricultural sectors, 2011- present.
  • NASA Terrestrial Ecology Working Group, 2010 - present.
  • Team member of the Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group, University of Tennessee
  • Reviewed manuscripts for over 30 professional research journals, several federal agency reports on greenhouse gas mitigation and carbon sequestration, and IPCC assessments and special reports, 2000-present.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Soil Science Society of America


  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Environmental Sciences Division, Stanley I. Auerbach Award for Excellence in Environmental Science, 2009
  • Soil Science Society of America, Best Division S-6 Paper, 1st Place, 2008
  • Soil Science Society of America, Best Division S-6 Paper, Honorable Mention, 2003
  • AAAS Environmental Fellowship, Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship, 2002
  • US Department of Defense Fellowship, 1996-1999
  • Ohio State, Mapping and GIS Laboratory Fellowship, 1996-1999

Selected Publications

  • West, T.O., V. Bandaru, C.C. Brandt, A.E. Schuh, and S.M. Ogle. 2011. Regional uptake and release of crop carbon in the United States. Biogeosciences 8: 2037-2046.
  • Brown, D.J., E.R. Hunt, R.C. Izaurralde, K.H. Paustian, C.W. Rice, B.L. Schumaker, and T.O. West. 2010. Soil organic carbon change monitored over large areas. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 91: 441-442.
  • Larson, J.A., B.C. English, D.G. De La Torre Ugarte, R.J. Menard, C.M. Hellwinckel, and T.O. West. 2010. Economic and environmental impacts of the corn grain ethanol industry on the United States agricultural sector. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 65(5): 264-279.
  • West, T.O. 2010. Integrative approaches for estimating current and future feedstock availability. GCB Bioenergy 2: 215-216, DOI 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2010.01057.x.
  • Zhang, X., R.C. Izaurralde, D. Manowitz, T.O. West, W.M. Post, A.M. Thomson, V. Bandaru, J. Nichols, J.R. Williams. 2010. An integrative modeling framework to evaluate the productivity and sustainability of biofuel crop production systems. GCB Bioenergy 2:258-277, DOI 10.111/j.1757-1707.2010.01046.x.
  • Hellwinckel, C.M., T.O. West, D.G. De La Torre Ugarte, R.D. Perlack. 2010. Evaluating possible cap and trade legislation on cellulosic feedstock availability. GCB Bioenergy 2: 278-287, DOI 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2010.01052.x.
  • West, T.O., C.C. Brandt, L.M. Baskaran, C.M. Hellwinckel, R. Mueller, C.J. Bernacchi, V. Bandaru, B. Yang, B.S. Wilson, G. Marland, R.G. Nelson, D.G. De La Torre Ugarte, and W.M. Post. 2010. Cropland carbon fluxes in the United States: Increasing geospatial resolution of inventory-based carbon accounting. Ecological Applications 20 (4): 1074-1086.
  • Garten, C.T., J.L. Smith, D.D. Tyler, J.E. Amonette, V.L. Bailey, D.J. Brice, H.F. Castro, R.L. Graham, C.A. Gunderson, R.C. Izaurralde, P.M. Jardine, J.D. Jastrow, M.K. Kerley, R. Matamala, M.A. Mayes, F.B. Metting, R.M. Miller, K.K. Moran, W.M. Post III, R.D. Sands, C.W. Schadt, J.R. Phillips, A.M. Thomson, T. Vugteveen, T.O. West, and S.D. Wullschleger. 2010. Intra-annual changes in biomass, carbon, and nitrogen dynamics at 4-year old switchgrass field trials in west Tennessee, USA. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 136: 177-184.
  • De La Torre Ugarte, D., B.C. English, C. Hellwinckel, T.O. West, K.L. Jensen, C.D. Clark, R.J. Menard. 2009. Analysis of the Implications of Climate Change and Energy Legislation to the Agricultural Sector. Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • West, T.O., N. Singh, G. Marland, B.L. Bhaduri, A. Roddy. 2009. The human carbon budget: An estimate of the spatial distribution of metabolic carbon consumption and release in the United States. Biogeochemistry 94: 29-41, DOI 10.1007/s10533-009-9306-z.


Tristram West

Joint Global Change Research Institute
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/
University of Maryland

5825 University Research Court Suite 3500
College Park, Maryland 20740

Phone: 301-314-6705,
Fax: 301-314-6719

Fulll Bio