Earth Scientist
Earth Scientist


Ning Sun is a hydrologist with more than 10 years of experience in multi-scale hydrological modeling from local to continental scales; her modeling work focuses on the context of climate change, climate extremes, and human-induced perturbations such as land use and land cover change, reservoir operations, and human decisions. Since 2012, Sun has been the administrator, and a core developer, of the regional Distributed Hydrology Soil Vegetation Model, or DHSVM. In pursuit of science and technology, she has developed and expanded capabilities in DHSVM to represent river thermal dynamics coupled with land surface processes, riparian shading effect on river temperature, urban water quality, and subgrid forest–snow interactions in canopy gaps. Under the Integrated Multisector Multiscale Modeling project, Sun also is leading the development of MOSART-WM to explore the dynamic interactions between water availability, water temperature, and power system operation at the continental United States and regional scales in response to compound influences of drought, urbanization, and population change.

Research Areas

  • Land surface hydrologic modeling and model development
  • Mountain snow hydrology
  • River temperature modeling
  • Climate-water-energy dynamics
  • Urban hydrology and water quality
  • Hydroclimatic extremes
  • Climate-forest-snow interactions
  • Hydrologic uncertainty assessment
  • Microalgae growth modeling


  • PhD in Environmental Science, Syracuse University, 2012
  • BE in Land Resource Management, China University of Geosciences, 2007

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • American Geophysical Union
  • Association of American Geographers
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Journal Academic Editor, PLOS ONE (2020-current)
  • Journal Manuscript Reviewer: Forest Ecology and Management; Global and Planetary Change; Hydrological Processes; Hydrology and Earth System Sciences; Journal of Geophysical Research; Journal of Hydrologic Engineering; Journal of Hydrology; Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment; Hydrology; Water; Water Resources Research
  • Review panelist, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Awards and Recognitions

  • PNNL Energy and Environment Directorate Project Team of the Year Award (2020)
  • AGU-Geophysical Research Letters Journal Cover Image (2019)
  • Excellence Paper Award, International Association of Chinese Youth in Water Sciences (2018)
  • AGU-Water Resources Research Journal Cover Image (2018)
  • Tuition Scholarship, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry(2007-2012)
  • Syracuse Center of Excellence Research Fellowship (2009)



  • Sun N, R Skaggs, MS Wigmosta, AM Coleman, M Huesemann, S Edmundson. 2020. “Growth modeling to evaluate alternative cultivation strategies to enhance national microalgal biomass production.” Algal Research.  DOI: 10.1016/j.algal.2020.101939
  • Lee S, A Fullerton, N Sun, C Torgersen. 2020. “Projecting spatiotemporally explicit effects of climate change on stream temperature: a model comparison and implications for coldwater fishes.” Journal of Hydrology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2020.125066
  • Xu H, U Lee, AM Coleman, MS Wigmosta, N Sun, TR Hawkins, MQ Wang. 2020. “Balancing water sustainability and productivity objectives in microalgae cultivation: Siting open ponds by considering seasonal water-stress impact using AWARE-US.” Environmental Science & Technology 54(4): 2091-2102. DOI:10.1021/acs.est.9b05347
  • Yan H, N Sun, MS Wigmosta, LR Leung, Z Hou, A Coleman, RL Skaggs. 2020. “Evaluating next-generation intensity-duration-frequency curves for design flood estimates in the snow-dominated western United States.” Hydrological Processes 34 (23): 1255-1268. DOI:10.1002/hyp.13673


  • Shah HL, T Zhou, N Sun, M Huang, V Mishra. 2019. “Roles of irrigation and reservoir operations in modulating terrestrial water and energy budgets in the Indian sub-continental river basins.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 124 (23): 12915-12936 DOI:10.1029/2019JD031059
  • Hou Z, H Ren, N Sun, MS Wigmosta, Y Liu, LR Leung, H Yan, R Skaggs, A Coleman. 2019. “Incorporating Climate Non-stationarity and Snowmelt Processes in Intensity-Duration-Frequency Analyses with Case Studies in Mountainous Areas.” Journal of Hydrometeorology 20 (12): 2331–2346 DOI: 10.1175/JHM-D-19-0055.1
  • Perkins WA, Z Duan, N Sun, MS Wigmosta, MC Richmond, X Chen, L Leung. 2019. “Parallel Distributed Hydrology Soil Vegetation Model Using Global Arrays.”Environmental Modelling & Software 122: 104533 DOI:10.1016/j.envsoft.2019.104533
  • Yearsley J, N Sun, M Baptiste, B Nijssen. 2019. “Assessing the Impacts of Hydrologic and Land Use Alterations on Water Temperature in the Farmington River Basin in Connecticut.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 23: 4491-4508 DOI:10.5194/hess-23-4491-2019
  • Yan H, N Sun, M Wigmosta, R Skaggs, LR Leung, A Coleman, Z Hou. 2019. “Observed Spatiotemporal Changes in the Mechanisms of Extreme Water Available for Runoff in the Western United States.” Geophysical Research Letters 46 (2): 767-775 DOI: 10.1029/2018GL080260 (featured on journal cover)
  • Sun N, H Yan, MS Wigmosta, LR Leung, R Skaggs, Z Hou. 2019. “Regional Snow Parameters Estimation for Large‐Domain Hydrological Applications in the Western United States.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 124 (10): 5296-5313 DOI: 10.1029/2018JD030140
  • Yan H, N Sun, M Wigmosta, R Skaggs, Z Hou, R Leung. 2019. “Next-Generation Intensity-Duration-Frequency Curves to Reduce Errors in Peak Flood Design.” Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 24 (7) :04019020 DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001799


  • Yan H, N Sun, M Wigmosta, R Skaggs, Z Hou, R Leung. 2018. “Next-Generation Intensity-Duration-Frequency Curves for Hydrologic Design in Snow-Dominated Environments.” Water Resources Research 54 (2): 1093–1108 DOI: 10.1002/2017WR021290 (featured on journal cover)
  • Sun N, M Wigmosta, T Zhou, J Lundquist, S Dickerson-Lange, N Cristea. 2018. “Evaluating the functionality and streamflow impacts of explicitly modelling forest-snow interactions and canopy gaps in a distributed hydrologic model.” Hydrological Processes 32 (13): 2128–2140 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.13150
  • Huesemann M, A Chavis, S Edmundson, D Rye, S Hobbs, N Sun, M Wigmosta. 2018. “Climate-simulated raceway pond culturing: quantifying the maximum achievable annual biomass productivity of Chlorella sorokiniana in the contiguous USA.” Journal of Applied Phycology 30 (1): 287–298 DOI: 10.1007/s10811-017-1256-6


  • Sun N, J Yearsley, M Baptiste, Q Cao, DP Lettenmaier, B Nijssen. 2016. “A spatially distributed model for assessment of the effects of changing land use and climate on urban stream quality.” Hydrological Processes 30 (25): 4779–4798 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10964
  • Cao Q, N Sun, J Yearsley, B Nijssen, DP Lettenmaier. 2016. “Climate and land cover effects on the temperature of Puget Sound streams.” Hydrological Processes 30 (13): 2286–2304 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10784
  • Sun N, M Hall. 2016. “Coupling human preferences with biophysical processes: modeling the effect of citizen attitudes on potential urban stormwater runoff.” Urban Ecosystems 19: 1433–1454. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-013-0304-5


  • Sun N, J Yearsley, N Voisin, DP Lettenmaier. 2015. “A spatially distributed model for the assessment of land use impacts on stream temperature in small urban watersheds.” Hydrological Processes 29 (10): 2331–2345 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10363


  • Sun N, M Hall, B Hong, L Zhang. 2014. ”Impact of SWMM Catchment Discretization: Case Study in Syracuse, New York.” Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 19 (1): 223–234 DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0000777
  • Sun N, B Hong, M Hall. 2014. ”Assessment of the SWMM model uncertainties within the generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation (GLUE) framework for a high-resolution urban sewershed.” Hydrological Processes 28(6): 3018-3034 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9869


  • Sun N, K Limburg, B and Hong. 2019. “The urban hydrological system. In: Hall M & Balogh S (Ed.). Understanding urban ecology: An interdisciplinary systems approach.” 119-136. Chama:Springer Nature DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-11259-2
  • Hall M, N Sun, S Balogh, C Foley, R Li. 2013. “Assessing the tradeoffs for an urban green economy. In: Richardson RB (Ed.). Building a green economy: Perspectives from ecological economics.” Michigan State University Press DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt76x