Mike Loranty

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Mike Loranty

Professor of Geography; Director of the Environmental Studies Program

Department/Office Information

Geography, Environmental Studies
307 Ho Science Center

My research seeks to answer questions regarding the spatial and temporal dynamics of biosphere-atmosphere interactions in boreal and arctic ecosystems. This involves studying water, carbon, and energy cycles in order to understand how terrestrial ecosystems respond to climate, and also to investigate how changing ecosystem processes will feed back to climate. 

As a geographer, I employ a variety of methods including field observations, simulation modeling, and satellite remote sensing to readily place my results in regional and global contexts. Visit my lab website for more information.

  • BS, West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • PhD, SUNY Buffalo

Ecohydrology, physical geography, GIS, and remote sensing

SUNY Buffalo: Introduction to GIS, Geostatistics

* Colgate student, **Colgate Postdoc


Loranty, M.M., Davydov, S.P., Kropp**, H., Alexander, H.D., Mack, M.C., Natali, S.M., and Zimov, N.S., 2018. Vegetation indices do not capture forest cover dynamics in upland Siberian larch forests. Remote Sensing, 10(11), 1686. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10111686

Loranty, M.M., Abbott, B., Blok, D.,Douglas, T.A., Epstein, H.E., Forbes, B., Jones, B., Kholodov, A.K., Kropp, H., Malhotra, A., Mamet, S., Myers-Smith, I., Natali, S.M., O’Donnell, J., Phoenix, G., Rocha, A.V., Sonnentag, O., Tape, K., Walker, D.A. 2018. Changing ecosystem influences on soil thermal regimes in northern high-latitude permafrost regions Biogeosciences 15(17), 5287–5313. http://doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-5287-2018

Alexander, H.D., Natali, S.M., Loranty, M.M., Ludwig, S., Spektor, V., Davydov, S.P., Zimov, N.S., and Mack, M.C. 2018. Impacts of increased soil burn severity on larch forest regeneration on permafrost soils in far northeastern Siberia.  Forest Ecology and Management. 417, 144–153. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2018.03.008

Loranty, M.M., Berner, L.T., *Taber, E.C., Kropp, H., Natali, S.M., Alexander, H.D., Davydov, S.P., and Zimov, N.S., 2018 Understory vegetation controls on active layer dynamics and carbon dioxide fluxes in open-canopy Siberian larch forests. PLoS ONE, 13(3), e0194014–17. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194014

Liu, H., McColl, K.A., Li, X., Derksen, C., Berg, A., Black, A., Euskirchen, E., Loranty, M.M., Pulliainen, J., Rautianen, K., Rowlandson, T., Roy, A., Royer, A., Langlois, A., Stephens, J., and Entekhabi, D., 2018. Validation of the SMAP Freeze/Thaw product using Categorical Triple Collocation. Remote Sensing of Environment 205, 329–337. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2017.12.007


Webb, E.E., Heard, K., Natali, S.M., Bunn, A., Alexander, H.D., Berner, L.T., Kholodov, A.L., Loranty, M.M., Schade, J., Spektor, V., and Zimov, N.S., 2017. Variability in above and belowground carbon stocks in a Siberian larch watershed.  Biogeosciences. 14 (18), 4279-4294. doi: 10.5194/bg-14-4279-2017

Mamet, S.D., Chun, K.P., Kershaw, G.G.L., Loranty, M.M., and Kershaw, G.P., 2017. Linear thaw and non-linear areal loss of permafrost: reconciling climatic and non-climatic effects on palsa dynamics in the western Northwest Territories. 2017. Permafrost and Perigalcial Processes. doi: 10.1002/ppp.1951

Derksen, C., Xu, X., Dunbar, R.S., Colliander, A., Kim, Y., Kimball, J., Black, A., Euskirchen, E., Langlois, A., Loranty, M.M., Marsh, P. Rautianen, T., Roy, A., Royer, A., Stephens, J., 2017. Retrieving landscape freeze/thaw state from Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) radar and radiometer measurements. Remote Sensing of Environment 194, 48-62.

Kropp**, H., Loranty, M.M., Alexander, H.D., Berner, L.T., Natali, S.M., and Spawn, S.A., 2017. Environmental constraints on transpiration and stomatal conductance in a Siberian Arctic boreal forest. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences.


Epstein, H.E., Bhatt, U.S., Raynolds, M.K., Walker, D.A., Forbes, B.C., Macias-Fauria, M., Loranty, M.M., Phoenix, G., and Bjerke, J. 2016: Tundra Greenness [in Arctic Report Card 2016], http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/Report-Card.

Loranty, M.M., Liberman-Cribbin*, W., Berner, L.T., Natali, S.M., Goetz, S.J., Alexander, H.D. and Kholodov, A.L., 2016. Spatial variation in vegetation productivity trends, fire disturbance, and soil carbon across arctic-boreal permafrost ecosystems. Environmental Research Letters, 11(9), 095008.

Curasi*, S.R., Loranty, M.M., and Natali, S.M., 2016. Water track distribution and effects on carbon dioxide flux in an eastern Siberian upland tundra landscape. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 045002.


Berner, L. T., H. D. Alexander, M. M. Loranty, P. Ganzlin, M. C. Mack, S. P. Davydov, and S. J. Goetz (2015), Biomass allometry for alder, dwarf birch, and willow in boreal forest and tundra ecosystems of far northeastern Siberia and north-central Alaska, Forest Ecology and Management, 337(C), 110–118, doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2014.10.027.


Loranty, M. M., S. M. Natali, L. T. Berner, S. J. Goetz, R. M. Holmes, S. P. Davydov, N. S. Zimov, and S. A. Zimov (2014), Siberian tundra ecosystem vegetation and carbon stocks four decades after wildfire, Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences, 119(11), 2144–2154, doi:10.1002/2014jg002730.

Loranty, M.M., L.T. Berner, S.J. Goetz, Y. Jin, and J.T. Randerson. 2014. Vegetation controls northern high latitude snow-albedo feedback: observations and CMIP5 model simulations. Global Change Biology. 20(2), 594-606. doi:10.1111/gcb.12391


Pearson, R. G., S. J. Phillips, M. M. Loranty, P. S. A. Beck, T. Damoulas, S. J. Knight, and S. J. Goetz, 2013, Shifts in Arctic vegetation and associated feedbacks under climate change, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate1858.


Epstein, H.E., D.A. Walker et al and 21 others including M.M. Loranty, 2012, Vegetation [in Arctic Report Card 2012], http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard

Rocha, A.V., M.M. Loranty, P.E. Hiquera, M.C. Mack, F.S. Hu, B.M. Jones, A.L. Breen, E.B. Rastetter, S.J. Goetz, and G.R. Shaver. 2012. The footprint of Alaskan tundra fires during the past half-century: implications for ecosystem function and resilience. Environmental Research Letters 7 044039 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044039

Berner, L.T., P.S.A. Beck, M.M. Loranty, H.D. Alexander, M.C. Mack, S.J. Goetz. 2012. Cajander larch (Larix cajanderi) biomass distribution, fire regime and post-fire recovery in northeastern Siberia. Biogeosciences 9, 3943-3959, doi:10.5194/bg-9-3943-2012.

Alexander, H. D., M. C. Mack, S. Goetz, M. M. Loranty, P. S. Beck, K. Earl, S. Zimov, S. Davydov, and C. C. Thompson (2012), Carbon Accumulation Patterns During Post-Fire Succession in Cajander Larch (Larix cajanderi) Forests of Siberia, Ecosystems, 15(7), 1065–1082, doi:10.1007/s10021-012-9567-6.

Jin, Y., J.T. Randerson, S.J. Goetz, P.S.A. Beck, M.M. Loranty and M.L. Goulden. 2012 The influence of burn severity on post-fire vegetation recovery and albedo change during early succession in North American boreal forests. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences. 117, G01036, doi:10.1029/2011JG001886

Mackay, D.S., B.E. Ewers, M.M. Loranty, E.L. Kruger, S. Samanta 2012. Bayesian analysis of canopy transpiration models: A new test of posterior parameter means. Journal of Hydrology 432-433: 75-83. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.02.019

Loranty, M.M., and S.J. Goetz. 2012 Shrub expansion and climate feedbacks in Arctic tundra. Environmental Research Letters 7 011005 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/011005 (Invited Perspective Article)


Beck, P.S.A., N. Horning, S. J. Goetz, M.M. Loranty, K. Tape. 2011. Shrub cover on the North Slope of Alaska: a circa 2000 baseline map. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 43(3):355-363. doi: 10.1657/1938-4246-43.3.355

Beck, P. S. A., S. J. Goetz, H. Alexander, M. C. Mack, Y. Jin, J. T. Randerson, M. M. Loranty. 2011. The effects and implications of an intensifying fire regime on boreal forest in Alaska. Global Change Biology, 17: 2853-2866, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02412.x

Loranty, M.M., S. J. Goetz, P.S.A Beck. 2011. The effects of tundra vegetation on pan-Arctic albedo. Environmental Research Letters 6 024014

Loranty, M.M., S. J. Goetz, E. B. Rastetter, A.V. Rocha, G.R. Shaver, E.R. Humphreys, and P.M.Lafleur. 2011. Scaling an instantaneous model of tundra NEE to the Arctic landscape. Ecosystems 14(1):76-93. (Article and photograph featured on cover)        


Loranty, M. M., D. S. Mackay, B. E. Ewers, E. Traver, and E. L. Kruger 2010, Competition for light between individual trees lowers reference canopy stomatal conductance: Results from a model. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences 115, G04019, doi:10.1029/2010JG001377

Mackay, D.S., B.E. Ewers, M.M. Loranty, E.L. Kruger. 2010. On the representativeness of plot size and location for scaling transpiration from trees to a stand. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, 115, G02016, doi:10.1029/2009JG001092

Loranty, M.M., D.S. Mackay, B.E. Ewers, E. Traver, and E.L. Kruger. 2010. Competition for light contributes to within-species variability in stomatal conductance. Water Resources Research, 46, W05516, doi:10.1029/2009WR008125.

Traver, E., Ewers, B.E., Mackay, D.S., Loranty, M.M., 2010. Tree transpiration varies spatially in response to atmospheric but not edaphic conditions. Functional Ecology, 24, 273-282.


Loranty, M.M., D.S. Mackay, B.E. Ewers, J.D. Adelman, E.L. Kruger. 2008. Environmental drivers of spatial variation in whole-tree transpiration in an aspen-dominated upland-to-wetland forest gradient. Water Resources Research, 44, W02441, doi:10.1029/2007WR006272.

Grants and Awards

  • NSF Polar Sciences Division, 2018-2021.Fire influences on forest recovery and associated climate feedbacks in the Siberian Arctic, $392,179 to Colgate
  • National Geographic Society CRE, 2016-2017. Disentangling tree and shrub phenology in Siberian taiga ecosystems, $20,395
  • Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute, 2016-2018. Impacts of boreal climate feedbacks on climate change, $136,545
  • NSF Polar Sciences Division, 2015-2018.Vegetation and Ecosystem Impacts on Permafrost Vulnerability, $443,250 to Colgate
  • NSF Polar Sciences Division, 2013-2017. Fire regime influences on carbon dynamics of Siberian boreal forests, $96,039 to Colgate

"Towards a mechanistic understanding of spatial patterns of forest transpiration and its implications for scaling"

Postdoctoral fellow, Woods Hole Research Center