Ray Leuning

We learned today (Feb 12, 2016) of the passing of Dr. Ray Leuning, formerly a Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO in Canberra, Australia.

Ray was one of the foundational members of the eddy covariance flux commmunity; he is best known to many for the Webb-Pearman-Leuning equation, which accounts for the effects of density fluctuations due to temperature and humidity fluctuations on CO2 flux measurements.

Ray is most remembered and admired for his creativity, energy, and humanity.  He inspired many of us with his broad thinking about the links between plants and the environment.  He kept us honest by asking the pertinent and tough questions (‘he did not suffer fools’).  And, he strived to make the world a better place with his devotion towards mentoring younger scientists and teaching at flux short courses.

Ray started as a botany major with a BS from University of Melbourne, Victoria, (1970) and later received his PhD in 1976.  At this time he made one of the first set of CO2 flux measurements over a forest, a tall eucalyptus stand, with the flux gradient method.  But with a biological background, he never wavered from diving into theory and maths, and enabled him to dive deep into environmental biophysics.

After his PhD, his life journey next took him to Guelph, as a postdoc, where he worked with George Thurtell and Ken King and made forays into the field of ozone deposition.

Returning to Australia in 1978, he spent the rest of his career in CSIRO, working with such leading scientists as Tom Denmead, John Finnigan, Mike Raupach, Ying Ping Wang, Helen Cleugh and Eva van Gorsel.

During his career he made notable contributions on the exchange of trace gas fluxes at the leaf, canopy and landscape scales, as chronicled in a talk on What Would Ray Do at the AgForMet symposium in his honor.

Working with leaves he is noted for advancing theories on

–Theory on Viscous and Diffusive Transport

–Stomatal Models

–Energy Balance and Frost

–Ozone Deposition

At the canopy scale he is best known for this work on:

–Pioneering CO2 and CH4 Flux measurements

–Webb-Pearman-Leuning Theory on Density Corrections

–Treatise on Energy Balance

–Coupled Theory on Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Exchange

–Scaling Fluxes with Light and Nitrogen

At the Landscapes/Regions scales he worked with teams on:

–Coupling Remote Sensing and Eddy Covariance

Many of us got to know him well with his frequent travels to international meetings and his participation in many Fluxnet workshops. He will be missed by his family (partner, Andrea), friends and colleagues.