Matthew McCabe, Ph.D.


Professor | Director, Climate and Livability Initiative (CLI)

Research Interests

​Prof. McCabe’s research focuses on issues related to water and food security, climate change impacts, precision agriculture, water resources monitoring and modeling, and the novel use of technologies for enhanced Earth system observation. The research undertaken in his group combines models and observations to answer questions on the distribution, variability and exchanges of water at local, regional and global scales, as well as the interactions with vegetation. CubeSats, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and in-situ monitoring techniques are all employed to monitor terrestrial processes, while a range of modeling and statistical approaches are used to understand and predict system behavior. Improved description and understanding of the water-food nexus is a key objective of his research.​​​​

Selected Publications

  • Multi-sensorremote sensing for drought characterization: current status, opportunities anda roadmap for the future
    W. Jiao, L. Wang and M.F. McCabe
    Remote Sensing of Environment, 256, 112313 (2021)
  • Mapping groundwater abstractions from irrigatedagriculture: big data, inverse modeling and a satellite-model fusion approach 
    O. Lopez, K. Johansen, B. Aragon, T. Li, R. Houborg, Y. Malbeteau, S. AlMashharawi, M.U. Altaf, E.M. Fallatah, H.P. Dasari, I. Hoteit and M.F. McCabe
    Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (2020)
  • On the use ofunmanned aerial systems for environmental monitoring
    S. Manfreda, M.F. McCabeP.E. Miller, R. Lucas, V. Pajuelo Madrigal, G. Mallinis, E. Ben Dor, D. Helman, L Estes, G. Caraolo, J. Mullerova, F. Tauro, M. Isabel de Lima, J.L.M.P. de Lima, A. Maltese, F. Frances, K. Caylor, M. Kohv, M. Perks, G. Ruiz-Perez, Z. Su, G. Vico and B.Toth
    Remote Sensing, Vol. 10(4), (2018) 
  • A Cubesat EnabledSpatio-Temporal Enhancement Method (CESTEM) utilizing Planet, Landsat and MODISdata
    R. Houborg and M.F. McCabe 
    Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 209, pp. 211-226 (2018)
  • The future of Earth observation in hydrology
    M.F. McCabe, M. Rodell, D.E. Alsdorf, D.G. Miralles, R. Uijlenhoet, W. Wagner, A. Lucieer, R. Houborg, N.E.C . Verhoest, T.E. Franz, J.Shi, H. Gao and E.F. Wood
    Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences 21, 3879-3914 (2017)
  • A multi-decadal assessment of the performance of gauge- and model-based rainfall products over Saudi Arabia: climatology, anomalies and trends
    A.M. El Kenawy, M.F. McCabe
    International Journal of Climatology, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp. 656-674, (2016)
  • Future projections of synoptic weather types over the Arabian Peninsula during the 21st Century using an ensemble of CMIP5 models
    A.M. El Kenawy, M.F. McCabe
    Theoretical and Applied Climatology, pp. 1-17, (2016)
  • Recent reversal in loss of global terrestrial biomass 
    Y.Y. Liu, A.I.J.M. van Dijk, R.A.M. de Jeu, J.G. Canadell, M.F. McCabe, J.P. Evans, G. Wan...
    Nature Climate Change, 5, 470-474, (2015)
  • Joint leaf chlorophyll content and leaf area index retrieval from Landsat data using a regularized model inversion system (REGFLEC)
    R. Houborg, M.F. McCabe, A. Cescatti, F. Gao, M. Schull, A. Gitelson
    Remote Sensing of Environment, 159, pp. 203-221, (2015)
  • Simulation of flash-flood producing storm events in Saudi Arabia using the Weather Research and Forecasting model 
    L. Deng, M.F. McCabe, G. Stenchikov, J.P. Evans, P. Kucera
    Journal of Hydrometeorology, 16(2), pp. 615-630, (2015)


  • ​Ph.D., Engineering, University of Newcastle, Australia, 2003
  • B.E. (Hons), University of Newcastle, Australia, 1998

Professional Profile

  • 2021-Present: Director, Climate and Livability Initiative (CLI)
  • 2018-Present: Full Professor, Remote Sensing and Water Security, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2017-2021: Associate Director, WDRC, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2012-2018: Associate Professor, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2012: Associate Professor, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • 2008-2011: Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • 2006-2007: Postdoctoral Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory, ​New Mexico, USA
  • 2003-2005: Postdoctoral Researcher, Princet​​on University, New Jersey, USA

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • ​American Geophysical Union
  • European Geophysical Union
  • International Association of Hydrological Sciences
  • Editor MDPI Hydrology Journal
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Hydrology
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Earth Science and Frontiers in Built Environment


  • ​2022 Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) “Water Management & Protection Prize.”
  • 2009 Australian Institute of Policy and Sciences NSW/ACT Tall Poppy Award
  • 2009 Chinese Academy of Sciences Foreign Visiting Expert Scholarship
  • 2009 Guest Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences

KAUST Affiliations

  • Water Desalination & Reuse Centre (WDRC)
  • Biological & Environmental Sciences & Engineering (BESE)​

Research Interests Keywords

Remote sensing Water security Climate impacts Precision agriculture Unmanned aerial vehicles