About Me

Hi, I am Rich Norby. I am an ecosystem ecologist with over 40 years’ experience investigating ecosystem responses to atmospheric and climatic change. I retired from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in April, 2020, as a Corporate Research Fellow (currently Research Fellow Emeritus), but I continue research activities through associations with the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Birmingham (UK). I also am an editor of New Phytologist and a trustee of the New Phytologist Foundation. I have enjoyed conducting field research in diverse ecosystems including temperate forests, tropical forests, the arctic tundra, and a boreal bog. Much of my research has focused on the responses of forests to elevated CO2, starting with growth chamber experiments in the 1980s, open-top field experiments in the 1990s, and a FACE experiment from 1997 to 2010. Now I enjoy collaborating with other FACE experiments, including BIFoR FACE at the University of Birmingham and developing the AmazonFACE experiment in Brazil. Providing relevant field data to inform ecosystem models is an important priority, such as through the FACE Model-Data Synthesis project and field work through the NGEE-Tropics program to assemble data and insights into the interface between roots and soil important for phosphorus acquisition by tropical trees.  Please explore this website to learn more about these activities.


University of Tennessee Knoxville
    Research Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    Joint Professor, The Bredesen Center

Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    Research Fellow Emeritus

University of Birmingham (UK),
    Honorary Professor, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, 2022 –
    Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, 2019-2020


Carleton College, B.A. Chemistry, 1972
University of Wisconsin-Madison, PhD. Forestry and Botany, 1981

Professional Activities

  • Editor and Trustee, New Phytologist, 1996-present. See my NP profile
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Plant Ecology, 2008-present
  • Editorial Board, Ecological Applications, 1998-2002
  • Member, Advisory Group, Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, University of Birmingham (UK), 2020 –       
  • Member, AGU Fellows Selection Committee, 2018 –
  • Co-chair, Research Priorities for Tropical Ecosystems Under Climate Change Workshop, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, June, 2012
  • Science Steering Group for the North American Carbon Program, 2005-2008
  • Scientific Steering Committee, Terrestrial Ecosystem Responses to Atmospheric and Climatic Change, 2001-2007
  • Task Leader, Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Focus 1, 1997-2003
  • Member: American Geophysical Union, Ecological Society of America, Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Awards and Honors

  • Highly Cited Researcher, 2018-2021, Clarivate Analytics
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2017
  • Fellow, Ecological Society of America, 2016
  • Significant Event Award, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2015
  • Outstanding Mentor Award, U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science, 2007
  • UT-Battelle Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Science and Technology, 2004
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1995
  • Scientific Achievement Award, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1992

Advisor to

Recent and Significant Publications

Norby RJ, Warren JM, Iversen CM, Childs J, Jawdy SS, Walker AP. 2021. Forest stand and canopy development unaltered by 12 years of CO2 enrichment. Tree Physiology DOI:

Yaffar D, Defrenne CE, Cabugao KG, Kivlin SN, Childs J, Carvajal N, Norby RJ. 2021. Trade-offs in phosphorus acquisition strategies of five common tree species in a tropical forest of Puerto Rico. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 4(85), doi: 10.3389/ffgc.2021.698191.

Yaffar D, Wood TE, Reed SC, Branoff BL, Cavaleri MA, Norby RJ. 2021.Experimental warming and its legacy effects on root dynamics following two hurricane disturbances in a wet tropical forest. Global Change Biology, DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15870

Cordeiro AL, Norby RJ, Andersen KM, Valverde-Barrantes O, Fuchslueger L, Oblitas E, Hartley IP, Iversen CM, Gonçalves NB, Takeshi B, Lapola DM, Quesada CA.2020. Fine-root dynamics vary with soil depth and precipitation in a low nutrient tropical forest in the Central Amazonia. Plant-Environment Interactions 1:3-16, doi.org/10.1002/pei3.10010. PDF

Yaffar D, Norby RJ. 2020. A historical and comparative review of 50 years of root data collection in Puerto Rico. Biotropica 52: 563-576, doi.org/10.1111/btp.1277. PDF

Norby RJ, Childs J, Hanson PJ, Warren JM. 2019. Rapid loss of an ecosystem engineer: Sphagnum decline in an experimentally warmed bog. Ecology and Evolution 9:12571-12585.  doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5722. PDF

Norby RJ, Sloan VL, Iversen CM, Childs J. 2019. Controls on fine-scale spatial and temporal variability of plant-available inorganic nitrogen in a polygonal tundra landscape. Ecosystems 22: 528-543. doi.org/10.1007/s10021-018-0285-6. PDF

Cabugao KG, Timm CM, Carrell AA, Childs J, Lu TS, Pelletier DA, Weston DJ, Norby RJ. 2017.  Root and rhizosphere bacterial phosphatase activity varies with tree species and soil phosphorus availability in Puerto Rico tropical forest. Frontiers in Plant Science 8:1834. doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01834. PDF

Norby RJ, De Kauwe MG, Domingues TF, Duursma RA, Ellsworth DS, Goll DS, Lapola DL, Luus KA, MacKenzie AR, Medlyn BE, Pavlick R, Rammig A, Smith B, Thomas R, Thonicke K, Walker AP, Yang X, Zaehle S. 2016. Model-data synthesis for the next generation of forest FACE experiments. New Phytologist 209: 17-28. PDF

Medlyn BE, Zaehle S, De Kauwe MG, Walker AP, Dietze MC, Hanson PJ, Hickler T, Jain AK, Luo Y, Parton W, Prentice IC, Thornton PE, Wang S, Wang YP, Weng E, Iversen CM, McCarthy HR, Warren JM, Oren R, Norby RJ. 2015. Using ecosystem experiments to improve vegetation models. Nature Climate Change 5: 528-534. PDF

Norby RJ, Zak DR. 2011. Ecological lessons from free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 42: 181-203. PDF

Norby RJ, Warren JM, Iversen CM, Medlyn BE, McMurtrie RE. 2010. CO2 enhancement of forest productivity constrained by limited nitrogen availability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107: 19368-19373. PDF

Finzi AC, Norby RJ, Calfapietra C, Gallet-Budynek A, Gielen B, Holmes WE, Hoosbeek MR, Iversen CM, Jackson RB, Kubiske ME, Ledford J, Liberloo M, Oren R, Polle A, Pritchard S, Zak DR, Schlesinger WH, Ceulemans R. 2007. Increases in nitrogen uptake rather than nitrogen-use efficiency support higher rates of temperate forest productivity under elevated CO2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 14014-14019. PDF

Norby RJ, DeLucia EH, Gielen B, Calfapietra C, Giardina CP,King JS, Ledford J,  McCarthy HR, Moore DJP, Ceulemans R, De Angelis P, Finzi AC, Karnosky DF, Kubiske ME, Lukac M, Pregitzer KS, Scarascia-Mugnozza GE, Schlesinger WH, Oren R. 2005. Forest response to elevated CO2 is conserved across a broad range of productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102:18052-18056. PDF

Norby RJ, Cotrufo MF, Ineson P, O’Neill EG, Canadell JG. 2001. Elevated CO2, litter quality, and decomposition: A synthesis. Oecologia 127: 153-165. PDF

Norby RJ, SD, Gunderson CA, Johnson DW, Ceuleman Rs. 1999. Tree responses to rising CO2: implications for the future forest. Plant, Cell & Environment 22: 683-714. PDF

Norby RJ. 1994. Issues and perspectives for investigating root responses to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. Plant and Soil 165: 9-20. PDF

Norby RJ, Gunderson CA, Wullschleger SD, O’Neill EG, McCracken MK. 1992. Productivity and compensatory responses of yellow‑poplar trees in elevated CO2. Nature 357:322‑324. PDF