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Cathy Jean Wilson

Cathy Wilson

Phone (505) 667-0202


  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Geoscience
  • Subsurface flow and transport
  • Hydrology
  • Plant ecology
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry
  • Remote sensing
  • Image analysis
  • Climate modeling
  • Field studies and process experiments
  • Ecosystem dynamics
  • Science of Signatures - Remote and Standoff Sensing
  • Ground-based sensing and sensors
  • Integration of sensors
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Model calibration


Cathy Wilson is an observational and computational hydrologist and geomorphologist. Her interests include the development of hydrologic and geomorphic models informed by multi-disciplinary and multi-scale observations. Dr Wilson started her career at CSIRO in Australia, where she led the erosion and sedimentation program in the multi-institution Cooperative Research Center for Catchment Hydrology. At LANL she led projects on fire impacts on floods and contaminant transport, the long-term performance of waste repositories, and climate impacts on water resources for energy production. More recently Dr Wilson became active in Arctic climate change research. She is a co-PI on the DOE Office of Science sponsored Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment, NGEE-Arctic project. Within the NGEE-Arctic project she is leading the collection and integration of in-situ, surface and subsurface geophysical and remote sensing data at field sites in Alaska to inform, develop and improve the representation of permafrost hydrology and geomorphology in global scale models of Arctic landscape evolution resulting from climate change.


BA Mathematics from Mills College

PhD Geology from the University of California Berkeley.


LANL Positions

2015 - Present: Scientist 5, LANL Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) Division. Team Leader, Atmosphere Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Team; LANL PI for DOE Office of Science, Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment-Arctic; LANL co-technical lead for  Climate and National Security.

2009 - 2014: Scientist 4, EES Division. Led inter-disciplinary, and multiple-institution research projects to improve observations and process models for regional to global climate prediction.

2007-2009: Acting Deputy Division Leader, EES Division; Acting Director Energy Security Center, LANL. Provided technical leadership, personnel & operational management and strategic planning for a division of ~ 200 scientists, postdocs, students, and professionals. Developed, launched and led LANL’s energy security science incubation center.

1999-2007: Technical Staff Member EES. Led LANL, DOE and energy industry funded projects to solve environmental, energy-water nexus and critical infrastructure problems. Eco-hydrology Team Leader. LANL Energy-Water Portfolio Manager.


Professional Societies

Executive Committee: NSF sponsored Study of Environmental ARctic CHange (SEARCH) Permafrost Action Team.

Co-chair of the bi-annual Arctic Observing Open Science Meeting.

Member American Geophysical Union



Selected publications:

  1. Naama Raz-Yaseef1*, Jessica Young-Robertson2, Thom Rahn3, Victoria Sloan4, Brent Newman3, Cathy Wilson3, Stan D. Wullschleger5, Margaret S. Torn1, (2017) Evapotranspiration across plant types and geomorphological units in polygonal arctic tundra. J. Hydrol., doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.08.036.  
  2. Shelef, E., J. C. Rowland, C. J. Wilson, G. E. Hilley, U. Mishra, G. L. Altmann, and C.-L. Ping (2017), Large uncertainty in permafrost carbon stocks due to hillslope soil deposits. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 6134–6144, doi:10.1002/2017GL073823.
  3. Throckmorton, H. M., Newman, B. D., Heikoop, J. M., Perkins, G. B., Feng, X., Graham, D. E., O'Malley, D., Vesselinov, V. V., Young, J., Wullschleger, S. D., and Wilson, C. J. (2016) Active layer hydrology in an arctic tundra ecosystem: quantifying water sources and cycling using water stable isotopes. Hydrol. Process., doi: 10.1002/hyp.10883.
  4. Atchley, A.L., ET Coon, Scott L. Painter, Dylan R. Harp, and Cathy J. Wilson. (2016) Influences and interactions of inundation, peat, and snow on active layer thickness. Geophysical Research Letters 43, no. 10: 5116-5123.
  5. Painter, S. L., E. T. Coon, A. L. Atchley, M. Berndt, R. Garimella, J. D. Moulton, D. Svyatskiy, and C. J. Wilson (2016), Integrated surface/subsurface permafrost thermal hydrology: Model formulation and proof-of-concept simulations, Water Resour. Res., 52, doi:10.1002/2015WR018427.
  6. Liljedahl AK, J Boike, RP Daanen, AN Federov, GV Frost, G Grosse, LD Hinzman, Y Iijma, JC Jorgenson, N Matveyeva, M Necsoiu, MK Reynolds, VE Romanovsky, J Schulla, KD Tape, DA Walker, CJ Wilson, H Yabuki and D Zona (2016) Pan-arctic ice-wedge degradation in warming permafrost and its influence on tundra hydrology. Nature Geoscience. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NGEO2674.
  7. Ali, A., C Xu, A Rogers, RA Fisher, SD Wullschleger, EC Massoud, JA Vrugt, JD Muss, NG McDowell, JB Fisher, PB Reich, CJ Wilson (2016). A global mechanistic model of plant photosynthesis capacity. Geoscientific Model Development, 9, 587-606, doi:10.5194/gmd-9-587-2016.
  8. Harp DR, AL Atchley, SL Painter, ET Coon, CJ Wilson, VE Romanovsky and JC Rowland (2016). Effect of soil property uncertainties on permafrost thaw projections: a calibration-constrained analysis. The Cryosphere 10: 341-358. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-341-2016.
  9. Ali, A., Xu, C., and Roger, A., McDowell, N.G., Medlyn, B, Fisher, R., Wullschleger, S., Reich, P., Vrugt, J., Bauerle, W., Wilson, C. 2015. Global environmental control of plant photosynthesis.  Ecological Applications, 25:2349-2365.
  10. Throckmorton, H.M., J.M. Heikoop, B.D. Newman, G.L. Altmann, M.S. Conrad, J.D. Muss, G.B. Perkins, L.J. Smith, M.S. Torn, S.D. Wullschleger, C.J. Wilson. (2015), Pathways and transformations of dissolved methane and dissolved inorganic carbon in Arctic tundra watersheds: Evidence from analysis of stable isotopes, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, doi:10.1002/2014GB005044.
  11. Atchley, A.L., S.L. Painter, D.R. Harp, E.T. Coon, C.J. Wilson, A.K. Liljedahl, and V.E. Romanovsky: (2015) Using field observations to inform thermal hydrology models of permafrost dynamics with ATS (v0.83).  Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 2701-2722, doi:10.5194/gmd-8-2701-2015.
  12. Heikoop, J.M., H.M. Throckmorton, B.D. Newman, G.B. Perkins, C.M. Iverson, T. Row-Chowdhury, V. Romanovsky, D.E. Graham, C.J. Wilson, S.D. Wullschleger (2015) Isotopic identification of soil and permafrost nitrate sources in an Arctic tundra ecosystem, J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci., 120, doi:10.1002/2014JG002883.
  13. Newman, B.D., H.M. Throckmorton,  D.E. Graham, B. Gu, S.S. Hubbard, L. Liang, Y. Wu, J.M. Heikoop, E.M. Herndon, T.J. Phelps, C.J. Wilson, S.D. Wullshleger (2015) Microtopographic and Depth Controls on Active Layer Chemistry in Arctic Polygonal Ground. Geophysical Research Letters DOI 10.1002/2014GL062804.
  14. Beighley, E., K. Eggert, C.J. Wilson, J.C. Rowland, H. Lee, (2014) A hydrologic routing model suitable for climate scale simulations of arctic rivers: application to the Mackenzie River Basin, Hydrol. Process., DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10398.
  15. Gangodagamage, C., J.C. Rowland, S.S. Hubbard, S.P. Brumby, A. Liljedahl, H.M. Wainwright, C.J. Wilson, G.L. Altmann, B. Dafflon, J. Peterson, C. Ulrich, C. Tweedie, and S.D. Wullschleger, (2014) Extrapolating active layer thickness measurements across Arctic polygonal terrain using LiDAR and NDVI data sets. Water Resour. Res., 50, doi:10.1002/2013WRO14283.
  16. Skurikhin A. N., C. Gangodagamage, J.C. Rowland, C.J. Wilson (2013), Arctic tundra ice-wedge landscape characterization by active contours without edges and structural analysis using high-resolution satellite imagery, Remote Sensing Letters, vol. 4, pp.1077-1086.
  17. Chen, M., J.C. Rowland, C.J. Wilson, G.L. Altman, S.P. Brumby, (2013) The importance of natural variability in lake areas on the detection of permafrost degradation: A case study in the Yukon Flats, Alaska, Permafrost and Periglac. Process, DOI: 10.1002/ppp.1783.
  18. Painter, S., J.D. Moulton, C.J. Wilson, (2012) Modeling challenges for predicting hydrologic response to degrading permafrost, Hydrogeology, DOI 10.1007/s10040-012-0917-4.
  19. K. Lewis; Zyvoloski, G; Wilson, C; Travis B; Rowland, J. (2012) Drainage subsidence associated with Arctic permafrost degradation. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, 117, F04019, DOI: 10.1029/2011JF002284.
  20. Xu, C., R. Fisher, S.D. Wullschleger, C.J. Wilson, M. Cai, N.G. McDowell, (2012) Toward a Mechanistic Modeling of Nitrogen Limitation on Vegetation Dynamics, PLos ONE May 2012 | Volume 7 | Issue 5 | e37914.
  21. Schuur, E.A.G., many authors…, C.J. Wilson, S.A. Zimov, (2011) High risk of permafrost thaw. Nature 480, 32-33, doi:10.1038/480032a
  22. Xu, C., C. Liang, S. Wullschleger, C. Wilson, and N.  McDowell (2011). Importance of feedback loop between soil inorganic nitrogen and microbial community in the heterotrophic soil respiration response to global warming. Nature Reviews Microbiology 9 (3): 222-223.
  23. J. C. Rowland, B. J. Travis, C.J. Wilson, (2011) The role of advective heat transport in talik development beneath lakes and ponds in discontinuous permafrost, Geophysical Res Letters, 38(17), DOI: 10.1029/2011GL048497.