Sami Rifai

Sami Rifai

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology


I research how different aspects of global change are affecting the vegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. I mostly focus on how meteorological extremes affect the woody ecosystems of Australia and the tropics. I am particularly interested in the usage of Earth Observation technologies to examine processes in ecophysiology and ecosystem ecology. 

My research tends to utilize: 

  • Earth observation and remote sensing
  • climate data
  • statistical modeling
  • machine learning
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2020 - 2023 Postdoctoral Research Associate University of New South Wales
    2017 - 2019 Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Oxford
    2017 - 2019 Oxford Martin Fellow University of Oxford
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2016 University of Florida United States PhD
    2008 University of Georgia United States MSc
    2005 University of California, Irvine United States BSc
  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2022 Beringer, J., Moore, C. E., Cleverly, J., Campbell, D. I., Cleugh, H., De Kauwe, M. G., . . . Woodgate, W. (2022). Bridge to the future: Important lessons from 20 years of ecosystem observations made by the OzFlux network. Global Change Biology, 28(11), 3489-3514.
    DOI WoS2 Europe PMC1
    2022 Rifai, S. W., De Kauwe, M. G., Ukkola, A. M., Cernusak, L. A., Meir, P., Medlyn, B. E., & Pitman, A. J. (2022). Thirty-eight years of CO2 fertilization has outpaced growing aridity to drive greening of Australian woody ecosystems. Biogeosciences, 19(2), 491-515.
    DOI Scopus6
    2022 Bauman, D., Fortunel, C., Cernusak, L. A., Bentley, L. P., McMahon, S. M., Rifai, S. W., . . . Malhi, Y. (2022). Tropical tree growth sensitivity to climate is driven by species intrinsic growth rate and leaf traits. Global Change Biology, 28(4), 1414-1432.
    DOI Scopus4 Europe PMC1
    2022 De Kauwe, M. G., Sabot, M. E. B., Medlyn, B. E., Pitman, A. J., Meir, P., Cernusak, L. A., . . . Choat, B. (2022). Towards species-level forecasts of drought-induced tree mortality risk. New Phytologist, 235(1), 94-110.
    DOI Scopus2
    2022 Bauman, D., Fortunel, C., Delhaye, G., Malhi, Y., Cernusak, L. A., Bentley, L. P., . . . McMahon, S. M. (2022). Tropical tree mortality has increased with rising atmospheric water stress. Nature, 608(7923), 528-533.
    DOI Scopus9
    2022 Scalon, M. C., Oliveras Menor, I., Freitag, R., Peixoto, K. S., Rifai, S. W., Marimon, B. S., . . . Malhi, Y. (2022). Contrasting strategies of nutrient demand and use between savanna and forest ecosystems in a neotropical transition zone. Biogeosciences, 19(15), 3649-3661.
    DOI Scopus1
    2021 Li, S., Sparrow, S. N., Otto, F. E. L., Rifai, S. W., Oliveras, I., Krikken, F., . . . Wallom, D. (2021). Anthropogenic climate change contribution to wildfire-prone weather conditions in the Cerrado and Arc of deforestation. Environmental Research Letters, 16(9), 14 pages.
    DOI Scopus3
    2021 David Urquiza Muñoz, J., Marra, D. M., Negrón-Juarez, R. I., Tello-Espinoza, R., Alegría-Muñoz, W., Pacheco-Gómez, T., . . . Trumbore, S. E. (2021). Recovery of forest structure following large-scale windthrows in the northwestern Amazon. Forests, 12(6), 667-1-667-15.
    DOI Scopus2
    2021 Huaraca Huasco, W., Riutta, T., Girardin, C. A. J., Hancco Pacha, F., Puma Vilca, B. L., Moore, S., . . . Malhi, Y. (2021). Fine root dynamics across pantropical rainforest ecosystems. Global Change Biology, 27(15), 3657-3680.
    DOI Scopus4 Europe PMC1
    2021 Slot, M., Rifai, S. W., & Winter, K. (2021). Photosynthetic plasticity of a tropical tree species, Tabebuia rosea, in response to elevated temperature and [CO₂]. Plant Cell and Environment, 44(7), 2347-2364.
    DOI Scopus8
    2021 Malhi, Y., Girardin, C., Metcalfe, D. B., Doughty, C. E., Aragão, L. E. O. C., Rifai, S. W., . . . Phillips, O. L. (2021). The Global Ecosystems Monitoring network: Monitoring ecosystem productivity and carbon cycling across the tropics. Biological Conservation, 253, 108889-1-108889-14.
    DOI Scopus21
    2021 Aguirre-Gutiérrez, J., Rifai, S., Shenkin, A., Oliveras, I., Bentley, L. P., Svátek, M., . . . Malhi, Y. (2021). Pantropical modelling of canopy functional traits using Sentinel-2 remote sensing data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 252, 112122-1-112122-18.
    DOI Scopus21
    2020 De Kauwe, M. G., Medlyn, B. E., Ukkola, A. M., Mu, M., Sabot, M. E. B., Pitman, A. J., . . . Briggs, P. R. (2020). Identifying areas at risk of drought-induced tree mortality across South-Eastern Australia. Global Change Biology, 26(10), 5716-5733.
    DOI Scopus53 Europe PMC5
    2020 Liang, B., Chen, X., Lang, W., Liu, G., Malhi, Y., & Rifai, S. (2020). Examining land surface phenology in the tropical moist forest eco-zone of South America. International Journal of Biometeorology, 64(11), 1911-1922.
    DOI
    2020 Matos, I. S., Menor, I. O., Rifai, S. W., & Rosado, B. H. P. (2020). Deciphering the stability of grassland productivity in response to rainfall manipulation experiments. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 29(3), 558-572.
    DOI Scopus14
    2019 Morel, A. C., Hirons, M., Demissie, S., Gonfa, T., Mehrabi, Z., Long, P. R., . . . Norris, K. (2019). The structures underpinning vulnerability: Examining landscape-society interactions in a smallholder coffee agroforestry system. Environmental Research Letters, 14(7), 075006.
    DOI Scopus7
    2019 Park, J. Y., Muller-Landau, H. C., Lichstein, J. W., Rifai, S. W., Dandois, J. P., & Bohlman, S. A. (2019). Quantifying leaf phenology of individual trees and species in a tropical forest using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) images. Remote Sensing, 11(13), 1534-1-1534-32.
    DOI Scopus60
    2019 Fonseca, L. D. M., Dalagnol, R., Malhi, Y., Rifai, S. W., Costa, G. B., Silva, T. S. F., . . . Borma, L. S. (2019). Phenology and seasonal ecosystem productivity in an Amazonian floodplain forest. Remote Sensing, 11(13), 1530-1-1530-17.
    DOI Scopus11
    2019 Núñez-Regueiro, M. M., Fletcher, R. J., Pienaar, E. F., Branch, L. C., Volante, J. N., & Rifai, S. (2019). Adding the temporal dimension to spatial patterns of payment for ecosystem services enrollment. Ecosystem Services, 36, 6 pages.
    DOI Scopus11
    2019 Aguirre-Gutiérrez, J., Oliveras, I., Rifai, S., Fauset, S., Adu-Bredu, S., Affum-Baffoe, K., . . . Malhi, Y. (2019). Drier tropical forests are susceptible to functional changes in response to a long-term drought. Ecology Letters, 22(5), 855-865.
    DOI Scopus52 Europe PMC10
    2019 Rifai, S. W., Li, S., & Malhi, Y. (2019). Coupling of El Niño events and long-term warming leads to pervasive climate extremes in the terrestrial tropics. Environmental Research Letters, 14(10), 11 pages.
    DOI Scopus28
    2018 Magnabosco Marra, D., Trumbore, S. E., Higuchi, N., Ribeiro, G. H. P. M., Negrón-Juárez, R. I., Holzwarth, F., . . . Wirth, C. (2018). Windthrows control biomass patterns and functional composition of Amazon forests. Global Change Biology, 24(12), 5867-5881.
    DOI Scopus31 Europe PMC2
    2018 Visakorpi, K., Gripenberg, S., Malhi, Y., Bolas, C., Oliveras, I., Harris, N., . . . Riutta, T. (2018). Small-scale indirect plant responses to insect herbivory could have major impacts on canopy photosynthesis and isoprene emission. New Phytologist, 220(3), 799-810.
    DOI Scopus17 Europe PMC4
    2018 Burton, C., Rifai, S., & Malhi, Y. (2018). Inter-comparison and assessment of gridded climate products over tropical forests during the 2015/2016 El Niño. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373(1760), 20170406-1-20170406-10.
    DOI Scopus18 Europe PMC2
    2018 Rifai, S. W., Girardin, C. A. J., Berenguer, E., Del Aguila-Pasquel, J., Dahlsjö, C. A. L., Doughty, C. E., . . . Malhi, Y. (2018). ENSO Drives interannual variation of forest woody growth across the tropics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373(1760), 20170410-1-20170410-13.
    DOI Scopus32 Europe PMC9
    2018 Negrón-Juárez, R. I., Holm, J. A., Marra, D. M., Rifai, S. W., Riley, W. J., Chambers, J. Q., . . . Higuchi, N. (2018). Vulnerability of Amazon forests to storm-driven tree mortality. Environmental Research Letters, 13(5), 054021.
    DOI Scopus33
    2017 Wilson, C. H., Caughlin, T. T., Rifai, S. W., Boughton, E. H., Mack, M. C., & Flory, S. L. (2017). Multi-decadal time series of remotely sensed vegetation improves prediction of soil carbon in a subtropical grassland. Ecological Applications, 27(5), 1646-1656.
    DOI Scopus22 Europe PMC3
    2017 Tucker Lima, J. M., Vittor, A., Rifai, S., & Valle, D. (2017). Does deforestation promote or inhibit malaria transmission in the Amazon? A systematic literature review and critical appraisal of current evidence. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 372(1722), 20160125.
    DOI Scopus61 Europe PMC26
    2016 Caughlin, T. T., Rifai, S. W., Graves, S. J., Asner, G. P., & Bohlman, S. A. (2016). Integrating LiDAR-derived tree height and Landsat satellite reflectance to estimate forest regrowth in a tropical agricultural landscape. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, 2(4), 190-203.
    DOI Scopus21
    2016 Rifai, S. W., Urquiza Muñoz, J. D., Negrón-Juárez, R. I., Ramírez Arévalo, F. R., Tello-Espinoza, R., Vanderwel, M. C., . . . Bohlman, S. A. (2016). Landscape-scale consequences of differential tree mortality from catastrophic wind disturbance in the Amazon. Ecological Applications, 26(7), 2225-2237.
    DOI Scopus28 Europe PMC11
    2015 Rifai, S. W., West, T. A. P., & Putz, F. E. (2015). "Carbon Cowboys" could inflate REDD+ payments through positive Measurement bias. Carbon Management, 6(3-4), 151-158.
    DOI Scopus10
    2014 Cho, A. H., Johnson, S. A., Schuman, C. E., Adler, J. M., Gonzalez, O., Graves, S. J., . . . Bruna, E. M. (2014). Women are underrepresented on the editorial boards of journals in environmental biology and natural resource management. PeerJ, 2014(1), e542.
    DOI Scopus63
    2014 Graves, S. J., Rifai, S. W., & Putz, F. E. (2014). Outer bark thickness decreases more with height on stems of fire-resistant than fire-sensitive Floridian oaks (Quercus spp.; Fagaceae). American Journal of Botany, 101(12), 2183-2188.
    DOI Scopus41 Europe PMC2
    2011 Negrón-Juárez, R. I., Chambers, J. Q., Marra, D. M., Ribeiro, G. H. P. M., Rifai, S. W., Higuchi, N., & Roberts, D. (2011). Detection of subpixel treefall gaps with Landsat imagery in Central Amazon forests. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115(12), 3322-3328.
    DOI Scopus40 Europe PMC5
    2010 Rifai, S. W., Markewitz, D., & Borders, B. (2010). Twenty years of intensive fertilization and competing vegetation suppression in loblolly pine plantations: Impacts on soil C, N, and microbial biomass. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 42(5), 713-723.
    DOI Scopus38 Europe PMC1
    - De Kauwe, M., Sabot, M., Medlyn, B., Pitman, A., Meir, P., Cernusak, L., . . . Choat, B. (n.d.). Towards species-level forecasts of drought-induced tree mortality risk.
    DOI
    - Scalon, M. C., Oliveras Menor, I., Freitag, R., Peixoto, K. S., Rifai, S. W., Marimon, B. S., . . . Malhi, Y. (n.d.). Contrasting strategies of nutrient demand and use between savanna and forest ecosystems in a Neotropical transition zone.
    DOI
    - Scalon, M. C., Oliveras Menor, I., Freitag, R., Peixoto, K. S., Rifai, S. W., Marimon, B. S., . . . Malhi, Y. (n.d.). Supplementary material to "Contrasting strategies of nutrient demand and use between savanna and forest ecosystems in a Neotropical transition zone".
    DOI

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