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Russell Qualls, Ph.D., P.E.

Russell Qualls, Ph.D., P.E.

Associate Professor and Idaho State Climatologist


Engineering Physics 407



Mailing Address

Biological Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 0904
Moscow, Idaho 83844-0904

  • Ph.D., Civil & Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 1994
  • M.S., Civil & Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 1991
  • B.S.C.E, Civil Engineering, University of Washington, 1987
  • B.A., Seattle Pacific University, 1985

  • Satellite Remote Sensing of Mountain Snowpack
  • Snowmelt Runoff Modeling
  • Satellite Remote Sensing and Modeling of Evapotranspiration
  • Irrigation Water Supply Modeling
  • Impacts of Climate Change on Water Supply
  • Development Of Simple Water-Well Drilling Methods For Developing Countries
  • Community Development in Third World Countries
  • Climate Assessment in National Parks and Monuments
  • Forest Carbon Sequestration and Water Use

Russell Qualls began his academic career as an assistant professor in Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, he developed Evapotranspiration models for cropped and natural-vegetated surfaces through field experiments and use of remotely sensed data, and participated in several national interdisciplinary hydrologic and meteorological field experiments. He continued evapotranspiration research at the University of Idaho beginning in 2000 through field experiments and theoretical developments. He constructed a 140 foot tall meteorological tower on a mountainous, forested watershed, and studies forest-atmosphere water and carbon exchange processes over complex terrain. Since coming to U of I, he has used remotely sensed data to create innovative tools to simulate mountain snowpack and its springtime melt cycle. He develops snowmelt runoff models, and simulates potential changes to water supply due to climate change scenarios. In 2010, he began to develop a suite of innovations to a simple, low-cost, manual water-well drilling method along with a hand water pump, which can be built from off-the-shelf hardware store parts, and has implemented them in rural Kenya. He is doing community development to enable small neighboring groups or individual rural farmers to drill, install and maintain water wells and pumps on their own properties within a budget that a poor rural farmer can afford. As the Idaho State Climatologist, Qualls archives climate data, assists the public, business entities, researchers, etc. procure climate data, and conducts climate research relevant to the state of Idaho and the Western United States. He also coordinates for Idaho a national volunteer precipitation network (

Selected Journal Articles

  • Crago, R. D. and R.J. Qualls, Use of land surface temperature to estimate surface energy fluxes: Contributions of Wilfried Brutsaert and collaborators, Water Resources Research, 50 (4), 3396-3408, doi:10.1002/2013WR015223, 2014.
  • Crago, R.D. and R.J. Qualls, The value of intuitive concepts in evaporation research, Water Resources Research, 49(9):6100-6104, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20420, 2013.
  • Arogundade, A. B., W. Zhao, and R.J. Qualls, Comparative studies on turbulent fluxes measured over burned and unburned sites of a sagebrush-dominated mountain, Ecohydrology, DOI: 10.1002/eco.1346, 1-18, 2012.
  • Zhao, W. , and R. J. Qualls, A multiple-layer canopy scattering model to simulate shortwave radiation distribution within a homogeneous plant canopy, Water Resources Research, 41:1-16, W09409, doi:10.1029/2005WR004016, 2005.
  • Zhao, W., R. J. Qualls, and P. R. Berliner, Modeling of the short wave radiation distribution in an agroforestry system, Agric. and Forest Meteorol., 118:185-206, 2003.
  • Qualls, R.J. and D.N. Yates. 2001. Directional radiometric temperature profiles in a grass canopy, Advances in Water Resources, 24:145-155, 2001.
  • Yates, D., F. Chen, M. LeMone, R. Qualls, S. Oncley, R. Grossman, and E. Brandes. A Cooperative Atmosphere-Surface Exchange Study (CASES) dataset for analyzing and parameterizing the effects of land-surface heterogeneity on area-average surface heat fluxes, J. Applied Meteorology, 40:921-937, 2001.
  • Qualls, R.J. and T.M. Hopson, Combined use of vegetation density and friction velocity to parameterize the scalar roughness for sensible heat flux, J. Atmospheric Sciences, 55:1198-1208, 1998.
  • Qualls, R.J., and W. Brutsaert, The effect of vegetation density on the parameterization of scalar roughness to estimate spatially distributed sensible heat fluxes, Water Resources Research, 32:645-652, 1996.
  • Qualls, R.J. and W. Brutsaert, Evaluation of remotely sensed surface temperature and ground based measurements on spatial variability of sensible heat fluxes, Water Resources Research, 32:2489-2495, 1996.

Book Chapters

  • Qualls, R.J., R.G. Taylor, J. Hamilton, and A.B. Arogundade, Climate change opportunities for Idaho’s Irrigation supply and deliveries, Chapter 3 in Climate Variability and Water Dependent Sectors: Impacts and Potential Adaptations, D.E. Peck and J.M. Peterson (eds.), Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Abingdon Oxon, UK, 132 pp, 2014.
  • Qualls, R. J. and A. Arogundade., Modeling Snowmelt Runoff under Climate Change Scenarios Using MODIS-Based Snow Cover Products, Chapter 10 in Multiscale Hydrologic Remote Sensing: Perspectives and Applications, ed. Ni-Bin Chang, CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, New York, 568 pp., 2012; (

Recent Conference Papers

  • Qualls, R.J., and R. D. Crago, Characterization of the Saturated Condition Potential Evaporation and Evaporative Demand and their Implications in the CR, (INVITED Talk, H33L-01), American Geophysical Union, 2015 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 18, 2015.
  • Qualls, R.J., and A. B. Arogundade, Combination of MODIS Snow, Cloud and Land Area Coverage Data with SNOTEL to Generate Inter-Annual and Within-Season Snow Depletion Curves and Maps, (C33C-0833), American Geophysical Union, 2015 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 16, 2015.
  • Crago, R.D., and R.J. Qualls, Plant Canopy Temperature and Heat Flux Profiles: What Difference Does an Isothermal Skin Make?, (H51N-1578), American Geophysical Union, 2015 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 18, 2015.
  • Qualls, R.J., and A. B. Arogundade, Integration of MODIS Snow, Cloud and Land Area Coverage Data with SNOTEL to Generate Inter-Annual Snow Depletion Curves and Maps, NW Climate Conference, Coeur d’Alene, ID, November 3-5, 2015.
  • Qualls, R.J., and A. B. Arogundade, Integrating SNOTEL and MODIS Observations to Quantify Trends in Watershed Snowcover, 2015 Western Snow Conference, Grass Valley, CA, April 20-23, 2015.
  • Qualls, R.J., Simple, inexpensive well-drilling and pump installation technology for the rural developing world (INVITED), Mukuyuni School, Mukuyuni, Kenya, April 18, 2014.
  • Qualls, R.J., Snowpack, Irrigation, and Climate Change (INVITED), Geography Graduate Seminar, U of I, February 12, 2014.
  • Qualls, R. J., and A. B. Arogundade, Integration of remote sensing with ground-based measurements to identify year-independent spatio-temporal patterns of snow cover and their potential applications (INVITED, H33H-1484), American Geophysical Union, 2013 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 11, 2013.
  • Crago, R. D., and R. J. Qualls, Simultaneously maintaining the complementary relationship and the conservation of evaporative fraction during the daytime (H31H-1465), American Geophysical Union, 2013 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 9, 2013.
  • Qualls, R.J., and A. B. Arogundade, Synthetic Year-Independent Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Snow Depletion. 2013 Western Snow Conference, Jackson, Wy, April 15-18, 2013.
  • Arogundade, A.B., and R.J. Qualls, Is climate really changing? Visible signs of climate change in Idaho. In Technical Proceedings of the 38th Annual Convention of the National Society of Black Engineers, Pittsburgh, PA, 28 March – 1 April, 2013.

Contact Us

Engineering/Physics Building

Mailing Address:

Biological Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0904
Moscow, ID 83844-0904

Phone: 208-885-6182

Fax: 208-885-7908


Web: Map

Biological Engineering