Brian Thomas

Assistant Professor


Brian Thomas
SRCC 517
4107 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260



Dr. Thomas received a Ph.D. from Tufts University in 2012 in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Water Resources Engineering.  He was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling from 2012-2014.  He continued as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the California Institute of Technology/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory before joining the department in 2016.

  • Research
  • Publications
  • Teaching

Our research philosophy is to observe changes in hydrologic dynamics, and then represent the observed changes within numerical frameworks.  This process allows us to evaluate the drivers of change in order to understand system dynamics and interactions to assess future scenarios.  Current research activities focus on 1) urban hydrology and the role of soil moisture in urban systems, 2) sustainable groundwater use using global land surface modeling and GRACE, and 3) the evaluation of baseflow hydrograph responses.

Research Areas

Thomas, B.F., Caineta, J.* and Nanteza, J.*, 2017. Global assessment of groundwater sustainability based on storage anomalies. Geophysical Research Letters,44(22).

Argus, D.F., Landerer, F.W., Wiese, D.N., Martens, H.R., Fu, Y., Famiglietti, J.S., Thomas,B.F., Farr, T.G., Moore, A.W. and Watkins, M.M., 2017. Sustained Water Loss in California's Mountain Ranges During Severe Drought From 2012 to 2015 Inferred From GPS. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth,122(12).

Thomas, B.F., Famiglietti, J.S., Landerer, F.W., Wiese, D.N., Molotch, N.P. and Argus, D.F., 2017. GRACE groundwater drought index: Evaluation of California Central Valley groundwater drought. Remote Sensing of Environment,198.

Nanteza, J., de Linage, C. R., Thomas, B.F. and Famiglietti, J.S., Monitoring groundwater storage changes in complex basement aquifers: An evaluation of the GRACE satellites over East Africa. Water Resour. Res. doi:10.1002/2016WR018846​

Thomas, B. F., F. W. Landerer, D. N. Wiese, and J. S. Famiglietti (2016), A comparison of watershed storage trends over the eastern and upper Midwestern regions of the United States, 2003–2015, Water Resour. Res., 52, 6335–6347,

Castle, S. L., J. T. Reager, B. F. Thomas, A. J. Purdy, M.-H. Lo, J. S. Famiglietti, and Q. Tang(2016), Remote detection of water management impacts on evapotranspiration in the Colorado River Basin, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 5089–5097, doi:10.1002/2016GL068675.

Richey, A.S., Thomas, B.F., Lo, M.H., Reager, J.T., Famiglietti, J.S., Voss, K., Swenson, S. and Rodell, M. , 2016. Reply to Comment by Sahoo et al. on "Quantifying renewable groundwater stress with GRACE".  Water Resour. Res., 52, 4188–4192,

Thomas, B.F., Behrangi, A. and Famiglietti, J.S., 2016. Precipitation intensity effects on groundwater recharge in the Southwestern United States. Water, 8(3), p.90. Special edition: "Water Resources Assessment and Management in Drylands".

Solander, K.C., J.T. Reager, B.F. Thomas, C.H. David and J.S. Famiglietti, Simulating the human operator: the development of an optimal complexity, climate-adaptive reservoir management model for an LSM. J. Hydrometeor, 17, 725–744. doi:

Groundwater Hydrology (GEOL 1051/1251)