Earth Systems Science & Engineering

Jasper w/ Norman Bean for the Huntington Beach 4th of July fireworks display

w/ Norman Bean for the Huntington Beach 4th of July fireworks display

Research Interests

My research group combines deterministic, stochastic, and analytic modeling with small and large-scale measurements to improve theory, understanding and predictability of complex Earth systems. Current emphasis is on the development of advanced model-data fusion methods (optimization, Bayesian analysis, model averaging, data assimilation) to reconcile (high-order) system models with data, with specific goal to detect model structural deficiencies for the purpose of learning and scientific discovery. We regularly use high-performance computing to solve computationally demanding (inverse) problems. We are currently working on diagnostic methods for model evaluation, likelihood free estimation, Bayesian model selection and emulation of CPU-intensive models.

Our papers appear in statistics and optimization journals, and applied journals covering surface hydrology, soil physics, fluid mechanics, hydrogeophysics, geostatistics, hydrogeology, avian biology, ecohydrology, water resources, agriculture, and geophysics. Recent work includes analysis of marine plankton biogeography and composition, cloud-aerosol interactions, global and local soil moisture estimation using remote sensing and geophysical data, scaling and estimation of soil hydraulic properties using pore size distribution data, and large-scale hydrologic modeling. Publications on these topics are forthcoming.

NEW: Slides of NASA Seminar (Dec. 11, 2012) (Link)

NEW: You can see video lectures of class (Link)

Recent Publications

G.J.M. De Lannoy, R.H. Reichle, and J.A. Vrugt, Uncertainty quantification of GEOS-5 L-Band radiative transfer model parameters using Bayesian inference and SMOS observations, Remote Sensing of Environment, 148, 146-157, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2014.03.030.

J.A. Vrugt, D. Or, and M.H. Young (2013), Vadose Zone Journal: The first ten years, Vadose Zone Journal, 12, 1-3, doi:10.2136/vzj2013.10.0186.

J.A. Vrugt, and M. Sadegh (2013), Towards diagnostic model calibration and evaluation: Approximate Bayesian computation, Water Resources Research, 49, 4335-4345, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20354.

E. Laloy, B. Rogiers, J.A. Vrugt, D. Mallants, and D. Jacques (2013), Efficient posterior exploration of a high-dimensional groundwater model from two-stage MCMC simulation and polynomial chaos expansion, Water Resources Research, 49, 2664-2682, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20226.

P. Nasta, N. Romano, S. Assouline, J.A. Vrugt, and J.W. Hopmans (2013), Prediction of spatially variable unsaturated hydraulic conductivity using scaled particle-size distribution functions, Water Resources Research, 49, 4219-4229, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20255.

P. Flombaum, J.L. Gallegos, R.A. Gordillo, J. Rincón, L.L. Zabala, N. Jiao, D.M. Karl, W.K.W. Li, M.W. Lomas, D. Veneziano, C.S. Vera, J.A. Vrugt, and A.C. Martiny (2013), Present and future global distributions of the marine Cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(24), 9824-9829, doi:10.1073/pnas.1307701110.

A.C. Martiny, C.T.A. Pham, F.W. Primeau, J.A. Vrugt, J.K. Moore, S.A. Levin, and M.W. Lomas (2013), Strong latitudinal patterns in the elemental ratios of marine plankton and organic matter, Nature Geoscience, 6, 279–283, doi:NGS-2012-07-01120B.

N. Linde, and J.A. Vrugt (2013), Distributed soil moisture from crosshole ground-penetrating radar travel times using stochastic inversion, Vadose Zone Journal, 12, doi:10.2136/vzj2012.0101.

J.A. Vrugt, C.J.F. ter Braak, C.G.H. Diks, and G. Schoups (2013), Advancing hydrologic data assimilation using particle Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation: theory, concepts and applications, Advances in Water Resources, Anniversary Issue – 35 Years, 51, 457–478, doi:10.1016/j.advwatres.2012.04.002.

E. Laloy, N. Linde, and J.A. Vrugt (2012), Mass conservative three-dimensional water tracer distribution from MCMC inversion of time-lapse GPR data, Water Resources Research, 48, W07510, doi:10.1029/2011WR011238.

Short CV

2011 Associate Professor (0.2 FTE), Faculty of Science (CGE), University of AmsterdamNetherlands

2010 Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), University of California IrvineUSA

/Assistant Professor (Joint Appointment), Earth System Science (ESS), University of California, Irvine, USA. 

2007 J. Robert Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow, LANL, USA

2005 Directors Funded Postdoctoral Fellow, LANL, USA

2004 PhD in Science, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

1999 MS in Physical Geography, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands


UC Irvine

2011 – present CEE-20: Problem Solving in Engineering using MATLAB: Undergraduate

2010 – present CEE-271: Unsaturated Zone Hydrology: Graduate

2007 – present CEE-290: Merging Models and Data: Graduate


Main Lecturer for a week long short-course on “Bayesian inverse modeling and data assimilation methods in the Earth Sciences“. Once or twice a year, at a different University worldwide. Look for more information under “Teaching / Outreach”

Editorial Boards

2008 – present Vadose Zone Journal

2008 – present Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences

2009 – present Environmental Modeling & Software

2010 – present Water Resources Research

Other Professional Activities

2004 – present Chair and Organizer of 20+ sessions at (inter)National conferences

2004 – present About 60 invited talks and seminars at Universities, Inter(National) Meetings, and Labs.