Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Nancy Y Kiang


Nancy Y Kiang's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 212.678.5553
Org Code: 611
Mail Code 611
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Kiang conducts research on the interaction between the biosphere and the atmosphere, focusing on life on land. Through photosynthesis and the evapotranspiration of water from plant leaves, seasonal cycles of growth and decay, and occasional big events like fires, the biosphere on Earth exchanges heat, water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen in different forms, and many other compounds with the atmosphere. These exchanges result in the biosphere actively controlling the climate and spectral properties of the Earth. Dr. Kiang also relates this work to research in astrobiology, particularly with regard to how photosynthetic activity produces signs of life at the global scale -- biogenic gases like oxygen and photosynthetic pigments like chlorophyll - and how these may exhibit adaptations to alternative environments on extrasolar planets, resulting in other “biosignatures” that might be detected by space telescopes. Her work includes computer simulation modeling of vegetation dynamics coupled to atmospheric general circiulation models (GCMs), occasional fieldwork, and theoretical studies on the thermodynamic efficiency of photon energy use in photosynthesis.


PhD, Biometeorology, Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy & Mgmt., University of Caifornia at Berkeley
M.S., Energy & Resources Group, University of Caifornia at Berkeley
B.S., Computer Science, Stanford University



2021. "CMIP6 Historical Simulations (1850‐2014) with GISS‐E2.1." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 13 e2019MS002034 [10.1029/2019ms002034] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Improving collaborations between empiricists and modelers to advance grassland community dynamics in ecosystem models." New Phytologist 228 (5): 1467-1471 [10.1111/nph.16900] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Feedbacks in the NASA GISS ModelE2.1." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 12 (10): [10.1029/2019ms002030] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "GISS‐E2.1: Configurations and Climatology." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 12 (8): [10.1029/2019ms002025] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Albedos, Equilibrium Temperatures, and Surface Temperatures of Habitable Planets." The Astrophysical Journal 884 (1): 75 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab3be8] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Habitable Climate Scenarios for Proxima Centauri b with a Dynamic Ocean." Astrobiology 19 (1): 99-125 [10.1089/ast.2017.1760] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Climates of Warm Earth-like Planets. I. 3D Model Simulations." The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 239 (2): 24 [10.3847/1538-4365/aae9e1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Exoplanet Biosignatures: At the Dawn of a New Era of Planetary Observations." Astrobiology 18 (6): 619-629 [10.1089/ast.2018.1862] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Exoplanet Biosignatures: A Framework for Their Assessment." Astrobiology 18 (6): 709-738 [10.1089/ast.2017.1737] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Exoplanet Biosignatures: A Review of Remotely Detectable Signs of Life." Astrobiology 18 (6): 663-708 [10.1089/ast.2017.1729] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Life’s Requirements." Handbook of Exoplanets 1-22 [10.1007/978-3-319-30648-3_74-1] [Article in Book]

2017. "Resolving Orbital and Climate Keys of Earth and Extraterrestrial Environments with Dynamics (ROCKE-3D) 1.0: A General Circulation Model for Simulating the Climates of Rocky Planets." The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 231 (1): 12 [10.3847/1538-4365/aa7a06] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Was Venus the first habitable world of our solar system?." Geophysical Research Letters 43 (16): 8376-8383 [10.1002/2016gl069790] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Variability of phenology and fluxes of water and carbon with observed and simulated soil moisture in the Ent Terrestrial Biosphere Model (Ent TBM version" Geosci. Model Dev. 8 (12): 3837-3865 [10.5194/gmd-8-3837-2015] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Future climate change under RCP emission scenarios with GISS ModelE2." J. Adv. Model. Earth Syst. 7 (1): 244-267 [doi:10.1002/2014MS000403] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Characterizing the purple Earth: Modelling the globally-integrated spectral variability of the Archean Earth." ApJ 780 (1): 52 [10.1088/0004-637X/780/1/52] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Looking for life elsewhere: Photosynthesis and astrobiology." Biochemist 36 (6): 24-30 [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "CMIP5 historical simulations (1850-2012) with GISS ModelE2." J. Adv. Model. Earth Syst. 6 (2): 441-477 [10.1002/2013MS000266] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Configuration and assessment of the GISS ModelE2 contributions to the CMIP5 archive." J. Adv. Model. Earth Syst. 6 (1): 141-184 [10.1002/2013MS000265] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Characterizing the purple Earth: Modelling the globally integrated spectral variability of the Archean Earth." Astrophys. J. 780 (1): 52 [10.1088/0004-637X/780/1/52] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Photosystem trap energies and spectrally-dependent energy-storage efficiencies in the Chl d-utilizing cyanobacterium, Acaryochloris marina." Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics 1827 (3): 255-265 [10.1016/j.bbabio.2012.11.002] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Photosynthesis-dependent isoprene emission from leaf to planet in a global carbon-chemistry-climate model." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 13 (20): 10243-10269 [10.5194/acp-13-10243-2013] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Efficiency of photosynthesis in a Chl d-utilizing cyanobacterium is comparable to or higher than that in Chl a-utilizing oxygenic species." Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics 1807 (9): 1231-1236 [10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.06.007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "A clumped-foliage canopy radiative transfer model for a global dynamic terrestrial ecosystem model II: Comparison to measurements." Agr Forest Meteorol 150 (7-8): 895-907 [10.1016/j.agrformet.2010.02.008] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "A clumped-foliage canopy radiative transfer model for a global dynamic terrestrial ecosystem model. I: Theory." Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 150 (7-8): 881-894 [10.1016/j.agrformet.2010.02.009] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Dangerous human-made interference with climate: a GISS modelE study." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 7 (9): 2287-2312 [10.5194/acp-7-2287-2007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Climate simulations for 1880–2003 with GISS modelE." Clim Dyn 29 (7-8): 661-696 [10.1007/s00382-007-0255-8] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Spectral Signatures of Photosynthesis. I. Review of Earth Organisms." Astrobiology 7 (1): 222-251 [10.1089/ast.2006.0105] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Spectral Signatures of Photosynthesis. II. Coevolution with Other Stars And The Atmosphere on Extrasolar Worlds." Astrobiology 7 (1): 252-274 [10.1089/ast.2006.0108] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "FLUXNET and modelling the global carbon cycle." Global Change Biology 13 (3): 610-633 [10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01223.x] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Detectability of Planetary Characteristics in Disk-Averaged Spectra II: Synthetic Spectra and Light-Curves of Earth." Astrobiology 6 (6): 881-900 [10.1089/ast.2006.6.881] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Present-Day Atmospheric Simulations Using GISS ModelE: Comparison to In Situ, Satellite, and Reanalysis Data." J. Climate 19 (2): 153-192 [10.1175/JCLI3612.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Efficacy of climate forcings." J. Geophys. Res. 110 (D18): D18104 [10.1029/2005JD005776] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Land Surface Model Development for the GISS GCM: Effects of Improved Canopy Physiology on Simulated Climate." J. Climate 18 (15): 2883-2902 [10.1175/JCLI3425.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "How plant functional-type, weather, seasonal drought, and soil physical properties alter water and energy fluxes of an oak–grass savanna and an annual grassland." Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 123 (1-2): 13-39 [10.1016/j.agrformet.2003.11.006] [Journal Article/Letter]

Selected Public Outreach

"Alien Planets Revealed," NOVA

February 2014 - Present

NOVA documentary.

"Space Pioneer - Exoplanet", Discovery Channel

2009 - Present

 Television documentary