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Brian Hornbuckle

Brian Hornbuckle

  • Professor
  • Agronomy
I am a native of Southwest Iowa. My academic training is mainly in electrical engineering. Between my undergraduate and graduate career I was a member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, through which I taught high school chemistry and physics. I have courtesy appointments in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.  I have been at Iowa State since 2003.

Contact Info

3007 Agronomy
716 Farm House Ln.
Social Media and Websites


  • B.S., Electrical Engineering, Brown University, 1994
  • M.A., Secondary Education, University of Mississippi, 1996
  • M.S.E., Electrical Engineering, University of Michigan, 1997
  • Ph.D., Electrical Engineering and Atmospheric Science, University of Michigan, 2003

More Information

Area of Expertise: environmental physics


Satellite remote sensing allows me to use my training in radio science to study the environment. Most of my research focuses on the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum because of the unique properties of liquid water. I use microwave remote sensing as a tool to understand how water moves among the soil, vegetation, and lower atmosphere.

Broader Impact

We are entering a new era of terrestrial hydrology. The first microwave remote sensing satellite mission that can produce global maps of soil moisture every two-to-three days was launched by the European Space Agency in 2009. NASA recently launched a similar satellite in early 2015. Initially these new data will be used to improve the predictions of weather and climate models. Eventually we hope to use this information to make better predictions of flood severity and extent, to estimate soil erosion, and to monitor the growth of crops.

Key Environmental Science Publications

Walker, V. A., B. K. Hornbuckle, and M. H. Cosh, A Five–year Evaluation of SMOS Level 2 Soil Moisture in the Corn Belt of the United States, IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing,10.1109/JSTARS.2018.2864897, 2018.

Rondinelli, W. J., B. K. Hornbuckle, J. C. Patton, M. H. Cosh, V. A. Walker, B. D. Carr, and S. D. Logsdon, Different Rates of Soil Drying
After Rainfall are Observed by the SMOS Satellite and the South Fork In Situ Soil Moisture Network, accepted by the Journal of Hydrometeorology, 2015.

Patton, J. and B. Hornbuckle, Initial Validation of SMOS Vegetation Optical Thickness in Iowa, IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, doi:10.1109/LGRS.2012.2216498, 2013.

Rowlandson, T. L., B. K. Hornbuckle, L. M. Bramer, J. C. Patton, and S. D. Logsdon, Comparisons of Evening and Morning SMOS Passes over the Midwest United States, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing Special Issue on the European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Mission (SMOS) – Instrument Performance and First Results, doi:10.1109/TGRS.2011.2178158, 2012.

Kabela, E. D., B. K. Hornbuckle, M. H. Cosh, M. C. Anderson, and M. L. Gleason, Dew frequency, duration, amount, and distribution in corn and soybean during SMEX05, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 149, 11-24, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2008.07.002, 2009.