John Knowles

INSTAAR Affiliate

  • Research Ecologist, USDA ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center



  • PhD: University of Colorado, Boulder, 2015
  • MA: University of Colorado, Boulder, 2009
  • BA: Vassar College, 2003

Contact Information

(Office) 303 735-5688


Ecohydrology; Micrometeorology; Biogeochemistry; Earth System Science

Research Interests

My research incorporates eddy covariance, isotopic, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and modeling techniques to investigate the multi-scale impacts of climate change and management practices on water and nutrient cycling at Earth’s surface.




John Knowles, Russell L. Scott, Rebecca L. Minor, Greg A. Barron-Gafford 2020: Ecosystem carbon and water cycling from a sky island montane forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 281: 107835. DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107835

John Knowles, Peter D. Blanken, Corey R. Lawrence, Williams, M. W. 2019: Evidence for non-steady-state carbon emissions from snow-scoured alpine tundra. Nature Communications, 10: article 1306. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09149-2

Ravindra Dwivedi, Christopher Eastoe, John Knowles, William E. Wright, Lejon Hamann, Rebecca Minor, Bhaskar Mitra, Tom Meixner, Jennifer McIntosh, Paul A. Ty Ferré, Christopher Castro, Guo-Yue Niu, Greg A. Barron-Gafford, Nate Abramson, Shirley A. Papuga, Michael Stanley, Jia Hu, Jon Chorover 2020: Vegetation source water identification using isotopic and hydrometric observations from a subhumid mountain catchment. Ecohydrology, 13(1): article e2167. DOI: 10.1002/eco.2167

William Kolby Smith, Matthew P. Dannenberg, Dong Yan, Stefanie Herrmann, Mallory L. Barnes, Greg A. Barron-Gafford, Joel A. Biederman, Scott Ferrenberg, Andrew M. Fox, Amy Hudson, John Knowles, Natasha MacBean, David J.P. Moore, Pamela L. Nagler, Sasha C. Reed, William A. Rutherford, Russell L. Scott, Xian Wang, Julia Yang 2019: Remote sensing of dryland ecosystem structure and function: Progress, challenges, and opportunities. Remote Sensing of Environment, 233: article 11401. DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111401

Yaniv Olshansky, John Knowles, Greg A. Barron-Gafford, Craig Rasmussen, Nate Abramson, Jon Chorover 2019: Soil fluid biogeochemical response to climatic events. Journal of Geophysical Research—Biogeosciences, 124(9): 2866-2882. DOI: 10.1029/2019JG005216

Sean P. Burns, Sean C. Swenson, Will Wieder, David M. Lawrence, Gordon B. Bonan, John Knowles, Peter D. Blanken 2018: A comparison of the diel cycle of modeled and measured latent heat flux during the warm season in a Colorado subalpine forest. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10(3): 617-651. DOI: 10.1002/2017MS001248

Graham A. Sexstone, David W. Clow, Steven R. Fassnacht, Glen E. Liston, Christopher A. Hiemstra, John Knowles, Colin A. Penn 2018: Snow sublimation in mountain environments and its sensitivity to forest disturbance and climate warming. Water Resources Research, 54(2): 1191-1211. DOI: 10.1002/2017WR021172

All publications by John Knowles >

Theses & Dissertations



Past Courses

  • GEOG 1001: Climate and Vegetation This course will provide you with an introduction and overview of Earth’s vegetation and climate system. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the many linkages and feedbacks between Earth’s living biota and climate, and we will discuss the global distribution of vegetation. Topics will include radiation, temperature, winds and pressure, the water cycle, vegetation, and climate change.
  • GEOG 1011: Landscapes and Water This course will introduce you to the sciences of hydrology and geomorphology, which are two branches of physical Geography that deal with Earth surface processes. In the first few weeks, we will discuss deep-seated geologic processes, which build mountain ranges and volcanoes, and generate earthquakes along plate boundaries. For the remainder of the semester, we will focus on near-surface processes that serve to modify and wear down Earth’s surface, such as weathering, soil erosion, landslides, floods, and glaciation.
  • GEOG 3251: Mountain Geography Mountain geography presents a geographic overview of major mountain ranges in the world, and provides an introduction to the physical, biological, and anthropogenic processes that shape these mountain environments. Changes in the mountain environment caused by humans will be evaluated and current strategies to minimize these impacts will be discussed.
  • GEOG 3601/ENVS 3600/ATOC 3600: Principles of Climate This course describes the basic components of the climate system: the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and lithosphere. A specific focus is placed on the basic physical processes that determine climate and the link between the components of the climate system, including the hydrologic cycle and its role in climate, climate stability, and global change.
  • GEOG 4241/GEOL 4241: Principles of Geomorphology This course covers glaciers, weathering, tectonic geomorphology, slope processes, rivers, hillslope hydrology, and the effects of wind. The material is based in physics and chemistry, and therefore you must be prepared to think quantitatively. Laboratory exercises will provide experience in making measurements and going through simple calculations relevant to surface processes.
  • GEOG 3511: Introduction to Hydrology The objective of this course is to provide a balanced view of hydrology that includes a description of the physical processes of precipitation, evapotranspiration, snowmelt, infiltration, groundwater and surface water runoff, and a coherent presentation of the theories and techniques that are used in practice.