Ronald Leeper

Ronald Leeper

Climate Reference Network operations and analysis Phone: +1 828.257.3185 Email: Orcid:


Ronald D. Leeper’s primary area of interest is in hydrological processes. He is particularly focused on land-atmosphere interactions and how these relationships will evolve in the context of climate change. Leeper is currently combining numerical methods and in-situ data sets to explore these complex topics from both modeling and observational perspectives.

Leeper is also working with NOAA scientists on the U.S. climate reference network (USCRN) to improve quality control (QC) methods and develop applications. The USCRN is a network of climate monitoring stations maintained and operated by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Recently, he has advanced QC methods to improve the network’s capacity to monitor US precipitation and has partnered with colleagues from Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) in Oak Ridge, TN to evaluate sensor performance. These activities include studies for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Solid Precipitation Intercomparison Experiment (SPICE) project.



Runkle, J. D., M. M. Sugg, R. D. Leeper, Y. Rao, J. L. Mathews, and J. J. Rennie, 2020: Short-term effects of weather parameters on COVID-19 morbidity in select US cities. Science of The Total Environment, 140093.

Sugg, M., J. Runkle, R. Leeper, H. Bagli, A. Golden, L.H. Handwerger, T. Magee, C. Moreno, R. Reed-Kelly, M. Taylor, and S. Woolard, 2020: A Scoping Review of Drought Impacts on Health and Society in North America. Climatic Change, In Press.

Wilson, T. B., H. J. Diamond, J. Kochendorfer, T. P. Meyers, M. Hall, N. W. Casey, C. B. Baker, R. Leeper, and M. A. Palecki, 2020: Evaluating time domain reflectometry and coaxial impedance sensors for soil observations by the U.S. Climate Reference Network. Vadose Zone Journal, 19,


Leeper, R. D., J. E. Bell, and M. A. Palecki, 2019: A Description and Evaluation of U.S. Climate Reference Network Standardized Soil Moisture Dataset. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 58, 1417–1428.

Leeper, R. D., J. Kochendorfer, T. Henderson, and M. A. Palecki, 2019: Impacts of small-scale urban encroachment on air temperature observations. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 58,1369–1380.


Lee, T. R., M. Buban, M. A. Palecki, R. D. Leeper, H. J. Diamond, E. Dumas, T. P. Meyers, and C. B. Baker, 2018: Great American Eclipse data may fine-tune weather forecasts, EOS, 99.

Rogers, W., R. Mahmood, R. D. Leeper, and J. Yan, 2018: Land cover change, surface mining, and their impacts on a heavy rain event in the Appalachia. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108, 1187-1209.


Kochendorfer, J., R. Rasmussen, M. Wolff, B. Baker, M. E. Hall, T. Meyers, S. Landolt, A. Jachcik, K. Isaksen, R. Brækkan, and R. Leeper, 2017: The quantification and correction of wind-induced precipitation measurement errors. Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences, 21, 1973-1989.

Leeper, R. D., J. E. Bell, C. Vines, and M. Palecki, 2017: An evaluation of the North American regional reanalysis simulated soil moisture conditions during the 2011 to 2013 drought period. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 18, 515-527.


Klotzbach, P. J., E. C. J. Oliver, R. D. Leeper, and C. J. Schreck, III, 2016: The relationship between the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and southeastern New England snowfall. Monthly Weather Review, 144, 1355-1362.

Kochendorfer, J., R. Rasmussen, M. Wolff, B. Baker, M. E. Hall, T. Meyers, S. Landolt, A. Jachcik, K. Isaksen, R. Brækkan, and R. Leeper, 2016: The Quantification and Correction of Wind-Induced Precipitation Measurement Errors. Hydrology Earth Systems Sciences Discussions, 2016, 1-24.

Quintanar, A.I., R Mahmood, A. Suarez, and R. Leeper, 2016: Atmospheric sensitivity to roughness length in a regional atmospheric model over the Ohio–Tennessee River Valley. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 128, 315 – 330.


Bell, J. E., R. D. Leeper, M. A. Palecki, E. Coopersmith, T. Wilson, R. Bilotta, and S. Embler, 2015: Evaluation of the 2012 Drought with a Newly Established National Soil Monitoring Network. Vadose Zone Journal, 14.

Leeper, R. D., J. Rennie, and M. A. Palecki, 2015: Observational perspectives from U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) and Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) Network: Temperature and precipitation comparison. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 32, 703-721.

Leeper, R. D., M. A. Palecki, and E. Davis, 2015: Methods to calculate precipitation from weighing bucket gauges with redundant depth measurements. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 32, 1179-1190.

Leeper, R. D., and J. Kochendorfer, 2015: Evaporation from weighing precipitation gauges: Impacts on automated gauge measurements and quality assurance methods. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 8, 2291-2300.


Bell, J. E., M. A. Palecki, C. B. Baker, W. G. Collins, J. H. Lawrimore, R. D. Leeper, M. E. Hall, J. Kochendorfer, T. P. Meyers, T. Wilson, and H. J. Diamond, 2013: U.S. Climate Reference Network soil moisture and temperature observations. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 14, 977-988.

Diamond, H., T. R. Karl, M. A. Palecki, C. B. Baker, J. E. Bell, R. D. Leeper, D. R. Easterling, J. H. Lawrimore, T. P. Meyers, M. R. Helfert, G. Goodge, and P. W. Thorne, 2013: U.S. Climate Reference Network after a decade of operations. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 94, 485-498.


Leeper, R., R. Mahmood, and A.I. Quintanar, 2011: Influence of karst landscape on planetary boundary layer atmosphere: A Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model-based investigation. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 12, 1512-1529.

Mahmood, R., R. Leeper, and A. I. Quintanar, 2011: Sensitivity of planetary boundary layer atmosphere to historical and future changes of land use/land cover, vegetation fraction, and soil moisture in Western Kentucky, USA. Global and Planetary Change, 78, 36-53.


Leeper, R. D., J. M. Walker, and G. B. Goodrich, 2010: Teleconnective relationships to the Kentucky Snowfall Impact Scale. Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science, 71, 36-46.

Mahmood, R., R. A. Pielke Sr., K. G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, G. Bonan, P. Lawrence, B. Baker, R. McNider, C. McAlpine, A. Etter, S. Gameda, B. Qian, A. Carleton, A. Beltran-Przekurat, T. Chase, A. I. Quintanar, J. O. Adegoke, S. Vezhapparambu, G. Conner, S. Asefi, E. Sertel, D. R. Legates, Y. Wu, R. Hale, O. N. Frauenfeld, A. Watts, M. Shepherd, C. Mitra, V. G. Anantharaj, S. Fall, R. Lund, A. Nordfelt, P. Blanken, J. Du, H-I. Chang, R. Leeper, U. S. Nair, S. Dobler, R. Deo, J. Syktus, 2010: Impacts of land use land cover change on climate and future research priorities. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91, 37-46.


Leeper, R., R. Mahmood, and A. I. Quintanar, 2009: Near surface atmospheric response to simulated changes in land-cover, vegetation fraction, and soil moisture over Western Kentucky. Publications in Climatology, 62(2), 41pp. (peer-reviewed monograph)


Mahmood, R., K. G. Hubbard, R. Leeper, and S.A. Foster, 2008: Increase in near surface atmospheric moisture content due to land use changes: Evidence from the observed dew point temperature data. Monthly Weather Review, 13, 1554-1561.

Walker, J. M., R. D. Leeper, S. Petrina, M. L. Johns, B. M. Biache, N. William, K. J. Batson, and G. B. Goodrich, 2008: Development of a Kentucky Snowfall Impact Scale. Focus on Geography, 50, 15-21.


Mahmood R., S. A. Foster, T. Keeling, K. G. Hubbard, C. Carlson and R. Leeper, 2006: Impacts of irrigation on 20th century temperature in the Northern Great Plains. Global Planetary Change, 54, 1-18.



D., L. R., J. E. Bell, and M. Palecki, 2016: An investigation of soil moisture extremes over the 2012 drought. 30th Conference of Hydrology at the 96th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, January 2016.

Leeper, R. D., 2016: An Exploratory Analysis of the 20th Century Reanalysis Extra-Tropical Cyclone Track Density. Wednesday 13th Poster Session at the 96th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, January, 2016.


Leeper, D. R., and J. Rennie, 2015: The Evolution of In Situ Climate Observations and Impacts on Observations and Climate Metrics. UNC Asheville Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Asheville, NC, February 2015.

Leeper, R. D., and J. E. Bell, 2015: Evaluating the Evolution of the California Drought and Monitoring Societal Risks with NOAA's U.S. Climate Reference Network. Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, January 2015.

Rennie, J., A. Buddenberg, K. Gassert, R. Leeper, L. E. Stevens, and S. E. Stevens, 2015: Computation, Analysis and Visualization of In-Situ and Remote Sensing Data using Python. 95th AMS Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, 5 January 2015.


Leeper, R., C. Vines, and M. Palecki, 2014: Evaluating the 2012 Drought using Modeled and Observed Datasets. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, San Antonio, TX, November 2014.