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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Ronald L. Sass
Professor Emeritus
Harry C. and Olga K. Weiss Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences
 
e-mail:sass@ruf.rice.edu
 
  • B.A. Augustana College (1954)
  • Ph. D. University of Southern California (1957)
 
Primary Department
   Department of BioSciences
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Department Affiliations
 
  • Center for Education
  • Center for the Study of the Environment and Society
  •  
    Websites
     Ron Sass
     Activities Home Page
     
    Research Areas
     Wetland trace gas processes, biosphere/atmosphere interactions, biogeochemical cycles and science policy
     
    Research Statement
     Research activity in my laboratory is directed toward the solution of biological
    problems using the techniques of physical chemistry. An area of currentinterest is a study of the biogenic emission of radiatively active atmospheric trace gases, particularly methane and nitrous oxide.


    Major identified biological sources of global atmospheric methane are enteric fermentation in ruminants and insects, combustion of biomass, and anaerobic decay of organic matter in rice fields, natural wetlands and landfills. Because methane emission from rice fields to the atmosphere accounts for a significant fraction of the global total, our research is directed toward reducing the uncertainty in estimates of its extent and defining the environmental and biological principles and processes whereby it is generated. We are investigating the physical and biotic factors affecting the production and emission to the atmosphere of biogenic methane through a combination of
    field, greenhouse and laboratory studies. Another important source of methane is natural wetlands. Field and laboratory work is currently underway in the coastal wetlands of Texas and in Jiangsu, China.

     
    Greenhouse gas emissions from Rice Agriculture
     Since 1988, our research group has studied the emission of methane and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The international science community recognizes our group as one of the very best and most productive laboratories in process level research, numerical modeling, and mitigation strategies of trace-gas emissions to the atmosphere from rice agroecosystems. We have determined how the emission of methane from rice fields is controlled and have recommended agricultural practices that will reduce this emission essentially to zero. In addition to field and laboratory research, We have worked closely with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) developing the Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories for Methane Emissions in Rice Cultivation and a methodology for countries to report their emission inventories, through the construction of Good Practices in National Inventories. Work with the IPCC on country level inventories has yielded invitations from various countries to help them further develop their measurement and reporting processes. These countries include China, Brazil, Thailand, and the United States.
     
    Teaching Areas
     Global Ecosystem Dynamics, Environmental Sustainability
     
    Selected Publications
     Refereed articles
     

    K. R. Redeker, S. Meinardi, D Blake and R. Sass "Gaseous emissions from flooded rice paddy agriculture." Journal of Geophysical Research, 108 (2003)

     
     

    Li, C. Qiu, J.J., Frolking, S, Xiao, X. M., Salas, W, Moore, B, Boles, S, Yao,H.,3, and Sass, R. "Changing Water Management in China¿s Rice Paddies and the Decline in the Growth Rate of Atmospheric Methane 1980-2000." Geophysical Research Letters, 29 (2002) : 10.1029/2002GL015370.

     
     

    Zou Jianwen, Huang Yao, Zong Lianggang, Wang Yuesi, and Ronald L. Sass "Integrated Effect of Incorporation with Different Organic Manures on Methane and Nitrous OxideEmissions from Rice Paddies." Environmental Science, 24 (2003) : 7-12.

     
     

    Changsheng Li, J. J. Qiu, Steve Frolking, X. M. Xiao, William Salas, B. Moore, S. Boles, Huang Yao, Sass, R. "Changing Water Management in China?s Rice Paddies and the Decline in the Growth Rate of Atmospheric Methane 1980-2000." Geophysical Research Letters, 29 (2002) : 10.1029/2002GL015370.

     
     

    Huang Y, Jiao Y, Zong LG, Zheng XH, Sass, R., Fisher, F. "Quantitative dependence of methane emission on soil properties." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 64 (2002) : 157-167.

     
     

    Huang Yao, Jiao Yan, Zong Lianggang, Zheng Xunhua, Zhou Quansu, Sass, R. "Nitrous oxide emission from wheat cultivated soils as influenced by soil physico-chemical properties." Acta Scientiae Circumstantiae, 22 (2002) : 598-602.

     
     

    Jiao Yan, Huang Yao, Zong Lianggong, Zhou Zuansu, Sass, R., Fisher, F. "Methane emission from rice paddy soils as influenced by soil physico-chemical properties." Environmental Science, 23 (2002) : 1-7.

     
     

    Kelly Redeker, Ralph Cicerone, Jeffrey Andrews, Fisher, F., Sass, R. "Inter-and Intra-Field Variability of Methyl Halide Emissions from Rice Paddies." Global Biogeochemical Cycles (2003) In Press

     
     

    Sass, R., J. A. Andrews, Aiju Ding, Fisher, F. "Spatial and temporal variability in methane emissions from rice paddies: Implications for assessing regional methane budgets." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 64: 3-7.

     
     

    Sass, R., Jeff Andrews, Fisher, F. "Spatial Variability in Methane Emissions from A Texas Rice Field with Some General Implications." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 16 (2002) : 10.1029/2000GB001355.

     
     

    Yao Huang, Jiao, Y, Wang, Y. S., Zong, L., Sass, R. "Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Wheat Growing Season with Eighteen Chinese Soils: An Outdoor Pot Experiment." Biology and Fertility of Soils, 36 (2002) : 411-417.

     
     Articles
     

    Sass, R., A. Mosier, X.H. Zheng "Introduction and Summary: International Workshop on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Rice Fields in Asia." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 64 (2002) : ix-xv.

     
     

    Sass, R., Ralph Cicerone "Photosynthate allocations in rice plants: food production or atmospheric methane." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 99 (2002) : 11993-11995.

     
     Book chapters
     

    Sass, R. L. (Contributing Author) "Environmental Defense." Manual for Accounting for Greenhouse Gas Offsets

     
     

    R. L. Sass "CH4 Emissions from Rice Agriculture." IPCC Expert Meetings on Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (2003) : 399-417.

     
     Other
     

    Sass, R. "Factors Affecting Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies." Encyclopedia of Soil Sciences, R. Lal, Ed. (2002) : 819-821.

     
     

    Sass, R. "Methane in Flooded Rice." Encyclopedia of Soil Sciences, R. Lal, Ed (2002) : 822-825.

     
     

    R. L. Sass, F. M. Fisher, Jr. and Y. Huang "A process-based model for methane emissions from irrigated rice fields: experimental basis and assumptions." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 58 (2000) : 249-2589.

     
     

    R.L. Sass "Processes of Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies." In: Encyclopedia of Soil Sciences, R. Lal, Ed. Marcel Dekker, New York, NY (accepted)

     
     

    Y. Huang, J. Jiang, L. Zong, R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher "Comparison of Field Measurements of Methane Emission from Rice Cultivation in Nanjing, China and in Texas, USA." Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 18 (2001) : 1121-1130.

     
     

    Y. Huang, Jiang, J., Sass, R. L., Fisher, F. M., and Zong, L. "Seasonal Determination of Methane Emission from Rice Paddies in Nanjing, China and Texas, USA." Global Biogeochemical Cycles (submitted)

     
     

    Y. Huang, Yan, J., Zong, L., Zhou, Q., Sass, R.L., and Fisher, F.M. "Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Wheat Growing Season with Eighteen Chinese Soils: An Outdoor Pot Experiment." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems (accepted)

     
     

    Y.Huang, L. Zong, Q. Zhou, R. L. Sass, F. M. Fisher "Influence of Planting Density and Precipitation on Nitrous Oxide Emission from a Winter Wheat Field." Environmental Science (in Chinese), 22 (2001) : 20-23.

     
     

    Bogner, J., R. Sass and B.P. Walter "Model comparisons of methane oxidation across a management gradient: Wetlands, rice production systems, and landfill." Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 14 (2000) : 1021-1030.

     
     

    Byrd, G., F.M. Fisher, Jr., and R. Sass "Relationships between methane production and emission to lacunal methane concentrations in rice." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 14 (2000) : 73-83.

     
     

    Huang, Y., R.L. Sass, and F.M. Fisher, Jr. "Contribution of Rice Biomass Production in CH4 Emission from Irrigated Paddy Soils." Agro-environmental Protection, 18 (2000) : 150-154.

     
     

    Reicosky, D.C., J.L. Hatfield and R.L. Sass "Agricultural contribution to global climate change." In: (L. R. Reddy and H. F. Hodges, eds.) Climate Change and Global Crop Productivity. CAB International, Wallingford, UK (2000) : 37-54.

     
     

    Bilek, R. S., S. C. Tyler, R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher "Differences in CH4 Oxidation and Pathways of Production Between Rice Cultivars Deduced from Measurements of CH4Flux, and 13C of CH4 and CO2." Global Biogeochemical Cycles , 13 (1999) : 1029-1044.

     
     

    Bogner, J., R. L. Sass and B. P. Walter "Modeling of Methane production and Net Emissions: Major controls on Fractional Methane Oxidation Across a Management Gradient Encompassing Natural Wetlands, Rice Production Systems, and Landfills." Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheres (submitted)

     
     

    Byrd, G., F. M. Fisher and R. L. Sass "Relationships Between Methane Production and Emission to Lacunal Methane Concentrations in Rice." Global Biogeochemical Cycles (submitted)

     
     

    Ding, A., C. R. Willis, R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher "Methane Emissions From Rice Fields: the Effect of Plant Height Among Different Cultivars." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 13 (1999) : 1045-1052.

     
     

    Huang, Y., R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher "Modeling Methane Emission from Rice Paddy Soils: I. Model Development." Pedosphere, 9(1) (1999) : 1-10.

     
     

    Huang, Y., R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher "Modeling Methane Emission from Rice Paddy Soils: II. Model Validation and Application." Pedosphere , (1) (1999) : 11-24.

     
     

    Reicosky, D. C., J. L. Hatfield and R. L. Sass "Agricultural Contribution to Global Climate Change." Climate Change and Global Crop Productivity (L. R. Reddy and H. F. Hodges, eds.) (in press)

     
     

    Sass, R. L. "Methane from Rice Agriculture.." Expert Group Meeting on Good Practice in Inventory Preparation, IPCC/OECD/IEA Program on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. (1999)

     
     

    Sass, R. L., F. M. Fisher and Y. Huang "Modeling Methane Emissions from Irrigated Rice Fields." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems. (in review)

     
     

    Sass, R. L., F. M. Fisher, A. Ding and Y. Huang "Exchange of Methane from Rice Fields: National, Regional, and Global Budgets." Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheres, 104 (1999) : 26943-26952.

     
     

    Bilek, R. S., S. C. Tyler, R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "Differences in CH4 oxidation and pathways of production between rice cultivars deduced from measurements of CH4 flux and 13C of CH4 and CO2." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, submitted (1998)

     
     

    Ding, A., C. R. Willis, R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "Methane emissions from rice fields: the effect of plant height among different cultivars." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, submitted (1998)

     
     

    Ding, A., R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "A 9-year continuous study of methane emission from Texas rice fields." Global Biogeochemical Cycles, submitted (1998)

     
     

    Huang, Y., R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "A semi-empirical model of methane emission from flooded rice paddy soils." Global Change Biology, 4 (1998) : 247-268.

     
     

    Huang, Y., R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "Methane emission from Texas rice paddy soils. 2. Seasonal contribution of rice biomass production to CH4 emission." Global Change Biology, 3 (1997) : 491-500.

     
     

    Huang, Y., R. L. Sass and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "Model estimates of methane emission from irrigated rice cultivation of China." Global Change Biology, 4 (1998) : 809-822.

     
     

    Huang, Y., R. L. Sass and Frank Fisher, Jr. "Methane emissions from Texas rice paddy soils: 1. Quantitative multi-year dependence of CH4 emission on soil, cultivar and grain yield." Global Change Biology, 3 (1997) : 479-489.

     
     

    Neue, H.-U. and Sass, R. L. "The budget of methane from rice fields." IGACtivities NewsLetter, 12 (1998) : 3-11.

     
     

    Sass, R. L. and F. M. Fisher, Jr. "Methane from irrigated rice cultivation." Global Environment Chemistry (1998) : 77-94.

     
     

    Sass, R. L., F. M. Fisher, Jr. and Y. Huang "Modeling methane emissions from irrigated rice fields." Agroecosystems, submitted (1998)

     
     

    Sass, R. L., F. M. Fisher, Jr., A. Ding and Y. Huang "Exchange of methane from rice fields: A model system for wetland emission modeling." Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheres, submitted (1998)

     
    Presentations
     Invited Papers
     

    Research direction.  "Greenhouse gas emission consequences of large-scale changes in water management of China¿s rice paddies during 1980-2000." EGS-AGU-EUG, Nice, France. (April 6-10, 2003) With Changsheng Li, Jianjun Qiu, Steve Frolking, Xiangming Xiao, William Salas, Berrien Moore III, Steve Boles, Yao Huang

     
     Invited Talks
     

    "How difficult is it to believe in global warming?." Scientia, Rice University. (April 13, 2004)

     
     Other
     

    "Can you see China from Texas?." Rice's Best: Winners of Rice University Teaching Awards, Rice School of Continuing Studies, Rice University. (November 19, 2001)

     
     

    "Five Lectures on Ecology and Global Change." Ecotour of the Peruvian Amazon River Basin, Rice Alumni Association, Amazon River, Peru. (October 20-28, 2001)

     
     

    "Remote Sensing of Methane Emissions from Rice Fields." Program on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment, Thailand Research Fund, Bangkok, Thailand. (September 28, 2001)

     
     

    "Spatial Variability in Methane Emissions from Rice Fields." Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China. (March 1, 2001)

     
     

    "Spatial Variability in Methane Emissions from Rice Fields." The Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment, King Mingkut University of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand. (September 26, 2001)

     
     

    "Spatial Variability in Methane Emissions from Rice Fields." Chinese Academy of Science, Atmospheric Science Laboratory, Beijing, China. (March 8, 2001)

     
     

    "Spatial and temporal variability in methane emissions from rice paddies: Implications for assessing regional methane budgets." Workshop on GHG Emissions from Rice Fields in Asia, Chinese Academy of Science Soil Science Laboratory, Nanjing, China. (February 26, 2001)

     
     

    "A Process Model of Methane Production, Oxidation and Transport in Paddy Rice Ecosystems." American Geophysical Union Spring Meeting, Washington, D. C. (May 30-June 3, 2000) With Li, C. Zhang, Y. , Huang, Y., and Butterbach-Bahl, K

     
     

    "CO2 and the Biosphere: Panel Moderator ." Global Warming: Science and Policy, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University, Rice University, Houston, Texas. (September 6-8, 2000)

     
     

    "Climate Change: Past, Present & Future." International Bank of Commerce, Houston, Texas. (May 16, 2000)

     
     

    "Climate Change: Past, Present and Future.." Association of Rice Alumni, San Antonio, Texas. (Thursday, Feb 3, 2000)

     
     

    "Future Transportation Technologies Panel." Eighth Annual Rice Environmental conference Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: The Future of Treansportation , Rice University. (February 12, 2000)

     
     

    "Global Ecosystem Dynamics." A short course, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China. (March 19-24, 2000)

     
     

    "Modeling and Remote Sensing of Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies." Nanjing Meteorological Institute, Nanjing, China. (March 25, 2000)

     
     

    "Seasonal and Spatial Variability of Methyl Halide Emissions from Rice Paddies near Houston, Texas." Fall Meeting of American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, California. (December 15-19, 2000) With Redeker, K., Andrews, J., Fisher F. and. Cicerone, R. J

     
     

    "Spatial Variability in Methane Emissions from Rice Fields." Department of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire. (August 16, 2000)

     
     

    "Spatial Variability in Methane Emissions from Rice Fields." Departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Earth Systems, University of California at Irvine. (Nov. 3, 2000)

     
     

    "A GIS Based System for Estimating Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies." Chinese Ecological Research Network Tropical Forest Station, Xi-shuang-ban-na, China. (June 14, 1999)

     
     

    "A GIS Based System for Estimating Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies." Chinese Ecological Research Network, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. (May 27, 1999)

     
     

    "A GIS Based System for Estimating Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies." Chinese Ecological Research Network, Institute of Agricultural Modernization and Remote Sensing, Changsha, China. (June 7, 1999)

     
     

    "Agricultural Sources of Methane and Nitrous Oxide: Methane from Rice Agriculture, Invited background paper." IPCC/OECD Workshop, "Good Practice in Inventory preparation: Agricultural Sources of Methane and Nitrous Oxide", Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands. (February 24-26, 1999)

     
     

    "Can You See China from Texas?." The Year's Best: Faculty Recipients of Teaching Awards, Rice University Continuing Education Course. (October 19, 1999)

     
     

    "Climate Change, Past, Present and Future." Rice University Bay Area Alumni College, Menlo Park, California. (October 23, 1999)

     
     

    "Factors Affecting Methane Emissions from Rice Paddies: Modeling and Remote Sensing." Institute of Natural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China. (May 26, 1999)

     
     

    "From Rice Fields to Global Warming, A Microbiological Study." Rice University Continuing Education Course on Environmental Studies, Rice University. (April 7, 1999)

     
     

    "Modeling Methane Emissions from Chinese Rice Paddies." Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China. (May 31, 1999)

     
     

    "Modeling Methane Emissions from Chinese Rice Paddies." Agro-Meteorological Research Center of Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China. (May 24, 1999)

     
     

    "Modeling Methane Emissions from Chinese Rice Paddies." Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Science, Nanning, China. (June 9, 1999)

     
     

    "Monitoramento e mitigação da emissão de metano pela cultura do arroz." First Brazilian Irrigated Rice Congress and XXIII Irrigated Rice Cultivation Meeting (Invited talk), Pelotas, RS, Brazil. (August 4, 1999)

     
     

    "Regional and Country Level Assessment of Methane from Rice Paddies." Institute of Remote Sensing, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. (May 25, 1999)

     
     

    "Annual Meeting." Rice University Representative; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado. (October 6-7, 1998)

     
     

    "Sustainable Energy Development." Panel Moderator; 17th Congress of the World Energy Council, Student Program, Houston, Texas. (September 13-17, 1998)

     
     Panelist
     

    "Climate Change: Magnitude of the Problem & Potential Solutions." Rice University. (September 14, 2004)

     
     Workshops
     

    Organizer.  "Integrated Gulf Coast Programs for Carbon Capture and Sequestration." Carbon Management and Climate Protection,, Houston, TX. (September 1, 2004)

     
    Editorial Positions
     Other, Reviewer for: "Training Tools for Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories". National Communications Support Programme (NCSP), United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC). (2004 - 2004)

     Editor for Special Issue, Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Rice Fields in Asia. Kluwer Academic Publishers. (2003 - 2003)

    Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
     Inductee, Texas Hall of Fame in Science, Mathematics and Technology (Jan. 2003)

     Lead Reviewer, "Training Tools for Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories", National Communications Support Programme (NCSP), United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC)

     Meritorious Service Award, 2001, Association of Rice Alumni

     Member, Scientific Organization Committee, Workshop on GHG Emissions from Rice Fields in Asia, Chinese Academy of Science, Soil Science Institute, Nanjing, China (February 25-27, 2001)

     Member, Scientific Steering Committee, Biosphere-Atmosphere Trace Gas Exchange (BATREX), International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) Project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP)

     Advisor on Graduate Programs, The Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment, King Mongkut's University of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand

     Advisor to The Brazilian Government on inventories of trace gas emissions from irrigated rice fields in Brazil, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)

     Session convenor: Biogeochemistry of C and N in Soils, II, Posters, American Geophysical Union (May 30-June 3, 2000)

     Convenor, Committee on Trace Gas Exchange in Rice Paddies (RICE)., International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Program

     Member , National Science Teachers Association

     Member, American Geophysical Union

     "Agricultural Sources of Methane and Nitrous Oxide: Methane from Rice Agriculture", IPCC/OECD

     Session convenor: Biogeochemistry of C and N in Soils I., American Geophysical Union (May 30-June 3, 2000)

     Co-authored the IPPC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Methane Emissions from Rice Cultivation (Reference Manual and Workbook), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

     Member, American Geophysical Union

     Member, National Science Teachers Association

     Professor of the Year, Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation (May 1999)