Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Sonia Wharton

Atmospheric Scientist and Acting Group Leader
(Energy Group)

Atmospheric, Earth and Energy Division

 +1 925-422-9295

Ph.D. Atmospheric Science
University of California at Davis
B.S. Biology - Environmental Studies
Baylor University

Research Interests

I am a micrometeorologist with interests in wind energy and land surface-atmosphere flux exchange. My experience in wind energy research ranges from deploying lidar and in situ instrumentation to evaluating turbine power performance response. Currently I work on DOE funded projects in wind resource characterization. These include measurement studies to better understand flow over complex terrain, flow within wind farms, and plant-scale plant response to atmospheric conditions. I am also the PI of the Diablo Grassland AmeriFlux tower at Site 300 (Altamont, California) and co-PI of the Wind River Old-Growth Forest AmeriFlux tower in Washington State. At these sites we are measuring net carbon, water and energy exchange between natural ecosystems and the atmosphere. These measurements quantify whether these systems are a net carbon sink or source to the atmosphere.

Honors and Awards

  • 2014 Global Security Directorate Silver Award, LLNL, for recognition of wind energy research
  • 2012 Global Security Directorate Silver Award, LLNL, for recognition of educational outreach
  • 2012 SPOT Award, Physical and Life Sciences, LLNL, for recognition of Newsline article
  • 2012 SPOT Award, Physical and Life Sciences, LLNL, for recognition of community outreach
  • 2012 Global Security Directorate Bronze Award, LLNL, for recognition of work safety
  • 2012 Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award for carbon-climate links, World Meteorological Organization, in recognition of co-authorship of "Climate Control of Terrestrial Carbon Exchange Across Biomes and Continents", Yi, C. et al., ERL (5) 2010
  • 2010 Outstanding Postdoctorate Fellow, Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, LLNL
  • 2010 Global Security Directorate Silver Award, LLNL, for recognition of PI leadership
  • Scholar, National Science Foundation Debating Science Program: Climate Change, University of Montana, Missoula, August 2007
  • Scholar, Advanced Study Program Summer Colloquium at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, "Regional Biogeochemistry: Needs and Methodologies", Boulder, CO, June 2007
  • Scholarship, awarded by the Regional Forest Responses to Environmental Change Traveling Workshop 2006, sponsored by International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Boston University, USDA Forest Service, U.S.-China Carbon Consortium, September 2006
  • Jastro-Shields Research Scholarship, UC Davis, 2005-2008
  • Fellowship, Atmospheric Science Graduate Group, UC Davis, 2002-2003

Selected (Recent) Publications

Wharton, S., Newman, J.F., Qualley, G., Miller, W.O. Measuring turbine inflow with vertically-profiling lidar in complex terrain. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, doi: 10.1016/j.jweia.2015.03.023, in press

Klein, P, Bonin, T.A., Newman, J.F., Turner, D.D., Chilson, P.B., Wainwright, C.E., Blumberg, W.G., Mishra, S., Carney, M., Jacobsen, E.P., Wharton, S., Newsom, R.K. LABLE: A multi-institutional, student-led, atmospheric boundary-layer experiment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00267.1, in press

Taylor, A.J., Lai, C.-T., Hopkins, F., Wharton, S., Bible, K., Xu, X.-M., Phillips, C., Bush, S., Ehleringer, J.R. (2015) Radiocarbon-based partitioning of soil respiration in an old-growth coniferous forest. Ecosystems 18: 459-470

Toomey, M., Friedl, M., Frolking, S., Hufkens, K., Klosterman, S., Sonnentag, O., Wharton, S., et al. (2015) Greenness indices from digital cameras predict the timing and seasonal dynamics of canopy-scale photosynthesis. Ecological Applications 25(1): 99-115

Bulaevskaya, V., Wharton, S., Clifton, A., Qualley, G., Miller, W.O. (2015) Power curve modeling in complex terrain using statistical models. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 7: 013103: doi: 10.1063/1.4904430

Wharton, S., Simpson, M., Osuna, J.L., Newman, J.F., Biraud, S.C. (2015) Role of surface energy exchange for simulating wind turbine inflow: a case study in the Southern Great Plains, USA. Atmosphere 6: 21-49

Marjanovic, N., Wharton, S., Chow, F.K. (2014) Investigation of model parameters for high-resolution wind energy forecasting: case studies over simple and complex terrain. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 134: 10-24

Wharton, S., Lundquist, J.K. (2012) Assessing atmospheric stability and its impact on rotor-disk wind characteristics at an onshore wind farm. Wind Energy 15: 525-546

Wharton, S., Falk, M., Bible, K., Schroeder, M., Paw U, K.T. (2012) Old-growth CO2 flux measurements reveal high sensitivity to climate anomalies across seasonal, annual and decadal time scales. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 161: 1-14

Peltoniemi, M., Pulkkinen, M., Kolari, P., Duursma, R., Montagnani, L., Wharton, S., et al. (2012) Does canopy mean nitrogen concentration explain variation in canopy light use efficiency across 14 contrasting forest sites? Tree Physiology 32: 200-218

Wharton, S., Lundquist, J.K. (2012) Atmospheric stability affects wind turbine power collection. Environmental Research Letters 7(1): doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/014005

Xiao, J.-F., Zhuang, Q., Law, B.E., Baldocchi, D.D., Chen, J., Richardson, A.D., Melillo, J.M., Davis, K.J., Hollinger, D.Y., Wharton, S. et al. (2011) Assessing net ecosystem carbon exchange of U.S. terrestrial ecosystems by integrating eddy covariance flux measurements and satellite observations. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 151: 60-69

Yi, C., Ricciuto, D., Runze, L., Wolbeck, J., Xu, X., Nilsson, M., Wharton, S. et al. (2010) Climate controls of terrestrial carbon exchange across biomes and continents. Environmental Research Letters 5(3), doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/3/034007

Gea-Izquierdo G., Bergeron, Y., Margolis, H., Makela, A., Black, T.A., Dunn, A., Hadley, J., Paw U, K.T., Falk, M., Wharton, S. et al. (2010) Modeling acclimation of photosynthesis to temperature in evergreen conifer forests. New Phytologist 188: 175-186

Xiao, J.-F., Zhuang Q., Law, B.E., Chen, J., Baldocchi, D.D., Cook, D.R., Oren, R., Richardson, A.D., Wharton, S. et al. (2010) A continuous measure of gross primary production for the Conterminous U.S. derived from MODIS and AmeriFlux data. Remote Sensing of Environment 114: 576-591

Wharton, S., Chasmer, L., Falk, M., Paw U, K.T. (2009) Strong links between teleconnections and canopy CO2 exchange found at a Pacific Northwest old-growth forest from flux tower and MODIS EVI data. Global Change Biology 15: 2187-2205

Wharton, S., M. Falk, M. Schroeder and K.T. Paw U. "Stand-Level Gas-Exchange Responses to Seasonal Drought in Very Young Versus Old Douglas-fir Forests of the Pacific Northwest, USA," Tree Physiology 29, 959-974 (2009).

van Gorsel, E., N. Delpierre, R. Leuning, T.A. Black, J.W. Munger, S. Wofsy, M. Aubinet, C. Feigenwinter, …S. Wharton. "Estimating Nocturnal Ecosystem Respiration from the Vertical Flux and Change in Storage of CO2," Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 149, 1919-1930 (2009).

Wharton, S., L. Chasmer, M. Falk, and K.T. Paw U. "Strong Links Between Teleconnections and Canopy CO2 Exchange Found at a Pacific Northwest Old-Growth Forest," Global Change Biology 15, 2187-2205 (2009).

Wharton, S., M. Schroeder, K.T. Paw U, M. Falk, and K. Bible. "Turbulence Considerations for Comparing Ecosystem Exchange over Old-Growth and Clear-Cut Stands for Limited Fetch and Complex Canopy Flow Conditions," Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 149, 1477-1490 (2009).

Turner, D.P., W.D. Ritts, S. Wharton, C. Thomas, R. Monson, T.A. Black, and M. Falk. "Assessing FPAR Source and Parameter Optimization Scheme in Application of a Diagnostic Carbon Flux Model," Remote Sensing of Environment 113, 1529-1539 (2009).

Xiao, J.-F., Q. Zhuang, D. Baldocchi, B. Law, A. Richardson, J. Chen, R. Oren, G. Starr, A. Noormets, S. Ma, S. Verma, Wharton, S., et al., "Estimation of Net Ecosystem Carbon Exchange for the Conterminous United States by Combining MODIS and AmeriFlux Data," Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 148, 1827-1847 (2008).

Falk, M., S. Wharton, M. Schroeder, S.L. Ustin, and K.T. Paw U. "Flux Partitioning in an Old-Growth Forest: Seasonal and Interannual Dynamics," Tree Physiology 28, 509-520 (2008).

Cheng, Y.-B., S. Wharton, S.L. Ustin, P.J Zarco-Tejada, M. Falk, and K.T. Paw U. "Relationships Between MODIS Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Water Indices and Tower Flux Data in an Old-Growth Conifer Forest," Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 1, 1-26 (2007).

Falk, M., K.T. Paw U, S. Wharton, and M. Schroeder. "Is Soil Respiration a Major Contributor to the Carbon Budget Within a Pacific Northwest Old-Growth Forest?" Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 135, 269-283 (2005).

Paw U, K.T., S. Wharton, J. Kochendorfer. "Evapotranspiration: Measuring and Modeling," Acta Hort. (ISHS) 664, 537-554 (2004).

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