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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

William P Kustas (Bill)


 photo of Bill Kustas  William P. Kustas, Ph.D.
Research Hydrologist
USDA-ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory
Bldg. 007, Rm. 104, BARC-West
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 USA
Voice: (301) 504-8498
Fax: (301) 504-8931


Research Interests: (click here to see a list of current research projects)

  • Modeling radiation and turbulent energy flux exchange across the soil-vegetation-atmosphere interface.
  • Remote sensing-based models for evapotranspiration estimation over complex landscapes.
  • Develop synergistic techniques that combine optical and microwave remote sensing for computing land surface fluxes.


  • 1981 B.S. (Forest Engineering) State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY.
  • 1983 M.S. (Hydrology and Hydraulics) School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
  • 1986 Ph.D. (Major in Hydrology with minors in Water Resource Systems and Atmospheric Sciences) School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Professional Experience:

  • 1982 - 1986: Research Assistant, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University.
  • 1986 - Present: Hydrologist, USDA-ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, MD. (Previously the USDA - ARS Hydrology Laboratory).
  • 1991 - 1993: Visiting Research Scholar, College of Marine Studies, Center for Remote Sensing, University of Delaware.
  • 1999 - 2000: Visiting Research Fellow, College of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia.


  • 1980: Alumni Award, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
  • 1981: Scholarly Honor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
  • 1990, 1992, 1995-2004: USDA Certificate of Merit Awards for Outstanding Research.
  • 2003: Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for "Pioneering leadership in large-scale experiments and analysis of land-surface atmosphere interactions".
  • 2004: Elected to serve as Chief Editor of the Journal of Hydrometeorology, American Meterorological Society.
  • 1989: Principle Investigator of a 3-year $360,000 research grant from NASA's Interdisciplinary Research Program in the Earth Sciences to study the energy and water balance of a semiarid rangeland.
  • 1990: Principle Investigator of a 2-year $50,000 USDA-ARS Research Associate grant for developing remote sensing techniques to quantify spatially distributed water and energy fluxes over semiarid rangelands.
  • 1994: Principle Investigator of a 2-year $80,000 USDA-ARS Global Change Program award to develop a coupled carbon and energy balance model that uses remote sensing data to scale-up from the plant to basin and regional scales.
  • 1999: Principle Investigator of a 3-year $250,000 research grant from NASA's Land Surface Hydrology Program to evaluate the utility of quantifying spatially-distributed surface heat fluxes at different resolutions with remotely sensed soil moisture data for the Southern Great Plains 1997 (SGP 97) Experimental Region.
  • 2001: Principle Investigator of a 3-year $575,000 research grant from NASA's Office of Earth Science Program for investigating the impact of field-scale heterogeneity in surface moisture and vegetation cover on regional-scale fluxes using remote sensing and land-atmosphere modeling (Soil Moisture Atmosphere Coupling Experiment-SMACEX conducted in conjunction with the Soil Moisture Experiment 2002-SMEX02). 2001
  • 2003: Principle Investigator of a 3-year $680,000 research grant from NASA's Earth Science Enterprise's Earth Observing System Interdisciplinary Science Program (EOS/IDS) to combine remotely sensed data from the Terra and Aqua platforms with LES to investigate the role of land surface heterogeneity on surface-atmospheric coupling.
  • 2003: Co-Investigator of a 3-year $670,000 research grant from NASA's Earth Science Enterprise's Earth Observing System Science Research Using Data and Products from Terra, Aqua and ACRIMM Satellites for assessment of land-surface hydrologic response to natural and anthropogenic stressors in the Florida Everglades.
  • 2005: Co-Investigator of a 3-year $300,000 NASA research grant from NASA's Terrestrial Hydrology Program for monitoring root-zone soil moisture through the assimilation of remotely-sensed surface soil moisture and evapotranspiration retrievals.

Professional Service:

  • 1989-1996: American Meteorological Society (AMS) Committee on Hydrology.
  • 1990-present: AGU Remote Sensing Committee.
  • 1993, 1995, 1996-1998, 2000, 2004: AGU Special Session Convener.
  • 1994-1998: American Geophysical Union (AGU) Hydrology Section Executive Committee.
  • 1994: AGU Spring Program Chair.
  • 1994-2000: EOS Physical Climate and Hydrology Panel.
  • 1994-2001: World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Commission for Hydrology Member.
  • 1995-2000: Associate Rapporteur of the WMO Commission for Hydrology.
  • 1995-1996: AMS Committee on Hydrology Chair.
  • 1995: AMS Conference Organizer, Conference on Hydrology.
  • 1996-1998: AGU Remote Sensing Committee Chair.
  • 1995-1998: Member of CASES (Cooperative Atmosphere -Surface Exchange Study) project organized by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • 1995: Panel Member to IAHS Workshop Use of Remotely Sensed Data for the Estimation of Evapotranspiration.
  • 1999: NASA Review Panel Member for the Land Surface Hydrology Program.
  • 1999: International Scientific Committee Member for the 2nd International Conference on Environment-Water.
  • 2000: International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) Member of Editorial Committee for Remote Sensing and Hydrology 2000 Symposium.
  • 2000: Committee Member for the Anheuser Busch Coastal Research Center.
  • 2002-2005: AGU Water Resources Research Associate Editor.
  • 2004-present: Advances in Water Resources Editorial Board.
  • 2004: Committee Member "Validation of Hydrologic Remote Sensing" Workshop for Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences.
  • 2004-present: AMS Board of the Journal of Hydrometeorology, Chief Editor.


Selected Publications: (Over 200 scientific publications of which 135 appear in peer reviewed journals and book chapters.  Please contact the author to determine reprint availability.)

(view author's publications/interpretive summaries/technical abstracts since 1999)

Kustas, W. P. and Brutsaert, W. Wind profile constants in a neutral atmospheric boundary layer over complex terrain. Boundary-Layer Meteorology. 34:35-54. 1986.

Kustas, W. P. and Brutsaert, W. Virtual heat entrainment in the mixed layer over very rough terrain. Boundary-Layer Meteorology. 38:141-157. 1986.

Kustas, W. P. and Brutsaert, W. Budgets of water vapor in the unstable boundary layer over rugged terrain. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology. 26:607-620. 1987.

Kustas, W. P. and Daughtry, C. S. T. Estimation of the soil heat flux/net radiation ratio from spectral data. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 49:205-223. 1990.

Kustas, W. P. Estimates of evapotranspiration with a one- and two-layer model of heat transfer over partial canopy cover. Journal of Applied Meteorology 29:704-715. 1990.

Kustas, W. P., Schmugge, T. J., Humes, K. S., Weltz, M. A., Moran, M. S., Jackson, T. J., and Parry, R. Relationships between evaporative fraction and remotely sensed vegetation index and microwave brightness temperature for semiarid rangelands. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 32:1781-1790. 1993.

Kustas, W. P. and Goodrich, D. C. Preface to special section on Monsoon '90. Water Resources Research. 30(5):1211-1225. 1994.

Kustas, W. P., Humes, K. S., Norman, J. M., and Moran, M. S. Single-and dual-source modeling of surface energy fluxes with radiometric surface temperature. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 35:110-121. 1995.

Kustas, W. P., Hipps, L. E., and Humes, K. S. Calculation of basin-scale surface fluxes by combining remotely sensed data and atmospheric properties in a semiarid landscape. Boundary.-Layer Meteorology. 73:105-124. 1995.

Kustas, W. P. and Norman, J. M. A two-source approach for estimating turbulent fluxes using multiple angle thermal infrared observations. Water Resources Research. 33:1495-1508. 1997.

Kustas, W. P., Zhan, X., and Schmugge, T. J. Combining optical and microwave remote sensing for mapping energy fluxes in a semiarid watershed. Remote Sensing of Environment. 64:116-131. 1998.

Kustas, W. P., and Norman, J. M. Evaluation of soil and vegetation heat flux predictions using a simple two-source model with radiometric temperatures for partial canopy cover. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 94:13-29, 1999.

Kustas, W. P., Prueger, J. H., Humes, K. S., and Starks, P. J. Estimation of surface heat fluxes at field scale using surface layer versus mixed layer atmospheric variables with radiometric temperature observations. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 38: 224-238, 1999.

Norman, J.M., Kustas, W. P., Prueger, J.H., and Diak, G.R. Surface flux estimation using radiometric temperature: a dual temperature difference method to minimize measurement error. Water Resources Research. 36:2263-2274. 2000.

Kustas, W. P. and Norman. J. M. Evaluating the effects of sub-pixel heterogeneity on pixel average fluxes. Remote Sensing of Environment. 74:327-342. 2000.

Kustas, W. P., Jackson, T. J. , French, A. N., and MacPherson, J. I. Verification of patch and regional scale energy balance estimates derived from microwave and optical remote sensing during SGP97. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 2(3):254-273. 2001.

Albertson, J. D., Kustas, W.P., and Scanlon, T. M. Large eddy simulation over heterogeneous terrain with remotely sensed land surface conditions. Water Resources Research. 37(7):1939-1953. 2001.

Kustas, W. P., Prueger J. H. , and Hipps. L.E. Impact of using different time-averaged inputs for estimating sensible heat flux of riparian vegetation using radiometric surface temperature. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 41:319-332. 2002.

Kustas W. P., Bindlish, R., French, A. N., and Schmugge, T. J. Comparison of energy balance modeling schemes using microwave-derived soil moisture and radiometric surface temperature. Water Resources Research 30:1039-1049. 2003.

Kustas, W. P., and Albertson, J.D. Effects of surface temperature contrast on land-atmosphere exchange: A case study from Monsoon 90. Water Resources Research. 39(6), 1159. DOI:10.1029/2001WR001226. 2003.

Kustas, W. P., Anderson, M.C. , Norman, J.N., and French, A.N. Estimating subpixel surface temperatures and energy fluxes from the vegetation index-radiometric temperature relationship. Remote Sensing of Environment. 85:429-440. 2003.

Anderson, M.C., Kustas, W.P., and Norman, J.M., Upscaling and downscaling - a regional view of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, Agronomy Journal. 95:1408-1423. 2003.

Kustas, W. P., Norman, J. M. , Schmugge, T. J., and Anderson, M. C. Mapping surface energy fluxes with radiometric temperature. Chapter 7 in: Thermal Remote Sensing in Land Surface Processes (Editors D. Quattrochi and J. Luvall), pp. 205-253. 2004. CRC Press Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

Kustas, W. P., Li, F., Jackson, T.J., Pruger, J.H., MacPherson, J.I., Wolden, M. Effects of remote sensing pixel resolution on modeled energy flux variability of croplands in Iowa. Remote Sensing of Environment. 92:535-547. 2004.

Crow, W.T., Kustas, W.P. Utility of assimilating surface radiometric temperature observations for evaporative fraction and heat transfer coefficient retrieval. Boundary-Layer Meteorology. 115: 105-130. 2005.

Kustas, W. P., Anderson, M.C., French, A.N., Vickers, D. Using a remote sensing field experiment to investigate flux-footprint relations and flux sampling distributions for tower and aircraft-based observations. Advances in Water Resources. 29:355-368. 2006.

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