Nathaniel Chaney

Nathaniel Chaney

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

My research aims to harness the existing petabytes of global environmental data to improve our understanding of the role of spatial heterogeneity in the terrestrial water cycle. More specifically, I focus on three themes: 1) rethink land heterogeneity in Earth system models 2) harness environmental data to characterize the observed spatial heterogeneity over land, and 3) assess the sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle to land heterogeneity. The tools that I use include numerical modeling, satellite remote sensing, machine learning, and high performance computing.

I obtained my undergraduate degree at U.C. Berkeley where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Atmospheric Sciences and Applied Mathematics. For my graduate studies, I attended Princeton University where I completed a Ph.D. in Hydrology in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Prior to arriving at Duke, I was a postdoctoral research associate in the program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton University and had a dual appointment as a visiting research scientist at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. Princeton University, 2015

Research Interests

Hydrology, Earth system science, soil science, ecology, geomorphology, numerical modeling, high performance computing, machine learning, environmental data delivery and data assimilation

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Chaney, NW; Van Huijgevoort, MHJ; Shevliakova, E; Malyshev, S; Milly, PCD; Gauthier, PPG; Sulman, BN, Harnessing big data to rethink land heterogeneity in Earth system models, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol 22 no. 6 (2018), pp. 3311-3330 [10.5194/hess-22-3311-2018] [abs].
  • Chaney, NW; Metcalfe, P; Wood, EF, HydroBlocks: a field-scale resolving land surface model for application over continental extents, Hydrological Processes, vol 30 no. 20 (2016), pp. 3543-3559 [10.1002/hyp.10891] [abs].
  • Chaney, NW; Wood, EF; McBratney, AB; Hempel, JW; Nauman, TW; Brungard, CW; Odgers, NP, POLARIS: A 30-meter probabilistic soil series map of the contiguous United States, Geoderma, vol 274 (2016), pp. 54-67 [10.1016/j.geoderma.2016.03.025] [abs].
  • Chaney, NW; Herman, JD; Reed, PM; Wood, EF, Flood and drought hydrologic monitoring: the role of model parameter uncertainty, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol 19 no. 7 (2015), pp. 3239-3251 [10.5194/hess-19-3239-2015] [abs].