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Research Interests


Photosynthesis supports life on Earth and represents the largest carbon flux between the land and the atmosphere. We are interested in understanding the magnitude and variation of global photosynthesis in the context of climate change.

Sample studies:

1. How ecosystem photosynthesis responds to long-term light variation (Luo & Keenan, 2020, Nature Ecology & Evolution [Link])

2. Global leaf photosynthetic capacity (Luo et al. 2021. Nature Communications [Link])

3. Where are the plants that hold C4 photosynthesis pathway (Luo et al, 2024, Nature Communications [Link])

Terrestrial Carbon Cycle

In addition to photosynthesis, we are also interested in other carbon fluxes, such as the autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration of ecosystems, which are ultimately important in determining the net carbon sink.

Sample studies:

1. How to infer carbon use efficiency and autotrophic respiration from eddy covariance observations (Luo et al, preprint [Link])

2. The sensitivity of ecosystem respiration to temperature inferred from atmospheric inversion (Sun, Luo et al, 2023, Nature Ecology & Evolution [Link])

Tropical Asia

Situated in tropical Asia (Southeast Asia), we are keen to explore the functions of local ecosystems and their recent changes.

Sample studies:

1. The greenup of tropical Asia vegetation in a recent dry year - 2015/2016 El Nino  (Satriawan, Luo et al, 2024, Geophysical Research Letters [Link])

2. The role of tropical droughts in modulating the climate sensitivity of global carbon cycle (Luo et al, 2022, Nature Communications [Link])

Vegetation dynamics

The interannual and seasonal changes in vegetation greenness determine the rhythm of the Earth's metabolism. Greenness and growing season length vary according to various climate factors.

Sample studies:

1. How growing season in tropical drylands shifted in past 40 years (Tian, Luo, 2024, Global Change Biology [Link])

2. The strong changes in greenness and productivity of global mangroves (Zhang, Luo et al, 2023, Nature Ecology & Evolution [Link])


Evapotranspiration is a critical component of the global hydrological cycle and energy budget, and is undergoing significant changes due to anthropogenic climate and land use changes.

Sample studies:

1. The changes in global ET on a greening earth (Yang et al, (including Luo) 2023, Nature Review Earth & Environment [Link])

2. Improve the simulation of ecosystem ET by considering advanced radiative transfer scheme (Luo et al, 2018. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeoscience [Link])

Land use changes

Land use changes have substantially altered vegetation composition and ecosystem functions. Southeast Asia is also a global hotspot for land use change. We are increasingly interested in the interactions between land use change and ecosystems.

Sample studies:

1. The negative impacts of cropland expansion on vegetation greenness in insular Southeast Asia  (Zhao, Luo et al, preprint [Link])

2. The historical changes of oil palm yield in Southeast Asia (Syahid, Luo et al. in preparation [Link])


Eddy Covariance


Eddy covariance towers directly monitor the breath of ecosystem - CO2 and water fluxes. They provide key observations of ecosystem functions.

Sample study:

Luo et al. 2018. AFM

Terrestrial Biosphere Models


Terrestrial biosphere models are a principal tools to simulate carbon/water fluxes over large scales or for attribution analysis. We also use outputs from TRENDY and CMIPs.

Sample study:

Luo et al. 2019. GCB

Optimality theory


Leaves and ecosystems learn to adjust their activities to long-term climate, to reach an optimal status (e.g., minimize water loss or maxmize growth). It provides a wealth of theories for us to test.

Sample study:

Luo et al. 2024. Nature Communications

Remote sensing


Satellite monitors vegetation dynamics over large scales, using index from simple NDVI to advanced metric such as leaf chlorophyll content. We are particularly interested in geostationary satellites for tropic studies nowadays.

Sample study:

Tian et al. 2024. GCB

Leaf traits

nrf_leaf traits

Ecosystem functions is largely dependent on how individual leaf works. We are interests in leaf nutrient, optical properties and physiological properties.

Sample study:

Croft et al. 2017. GCB

Machine Learning


We are light user of various machine learning methods (e.g., NN, RF, XGboost) for attribution, extrapolation analyses and emulating models.

Sample study:

Luo et al. 2021. Nature Communications


National Environment Agency Climate Impact Science Research (CISR) (2024.01 - 2027.12)

Title: The Climate Resilience and Threshold of Trees in Singapore

Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund (AcRF) Tier 2 (2023.08 - 2026.07)

Title: Climate-driven changes in the terrestrial carbon sink of tropical Asia 

Singapore Energy Center Core Project (2022.04 - 2024.03)

Title: The gross CO2 emissions and removals from land-use change in Southeast Asia


NUS Presidential Young Professorship (2021.06 - 2027.05)

Title: Examining the structural and physiological changes of vegetation in tropical Asia

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