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John Lennox Monteith DSc, FRS[1] (3 September 1929 – 20 July 2012) was a British scientist who pioneered the application of physics to biology.[2] He was an authority in the related fields of water management for agricultural production, soil physics, micrometeorology, transpiration, and the influence of the natural environment on field crops, horticultural crops, forestry, and animal production.[3][4][5][6][7]

John Monteith
John Lennox Monteith.jpg
A portrait of John Lennox Monteith (date unknown)
John Lennox Monteith

(1929-09-03)3 September 1929
Died20 July 2012(2012-07-20) (aged 82)
Known forApplication of physics in biology
AwardsFRS (1971), FRSE (1972)



His pioneering work with Howard Penman on evapotranspiration is applied worldwide as the Penman-Monteith equation. It predicts evapotranspiration and is recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization for calculating irrigation quantities.[2] Monteith's research on the role of the environment in agriculture, the physics of crop microclimate, physiology of crop growth and yield, radiation climatology, heat balance in animals,[8] and instrumentation for measuring physical and physiological variables in agriculture has been published in journals throughout the world[9].

He was President of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1978 to 1980. In his presidential address in 1980 he advised colleagues that unless they could understand how crop yields were determined by weather events, they would have little hope of predicting how crop yields would vary as a result of global warming and elevated CO

When he retired in 1992 a conference on resource capture by crops was organised and a further conference was held in 2008.[12] The American Society of Agronomy also organised a symposium in his honour in 1996.[13] In an obituary by researchers at Nottingham it was noted it was "impossible to quantify" the impact of his research but that his influence was major judging by the large number of researchers that he supervised who held senior positions in organisations around the world.[13]


Awards and honoursEdit

His nomination for the Royal Society reads:


  1. ^ a b Unsworth, Michael H. (2014). "John Lennox Monteith 3 September 1929 -- 20 July 2012". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2014.0005.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "John Lennox Monteith". The Herald. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  3. ^ Principles of Environmental Physics; JL Monteith, M Unsworth ISBN 0-7131-2931-X (four editions published in 1973, 1990, 2008 and 2013)
  4. ^ John Monteith; Mike Unsworth (26 July 2013). Principles of Environmental Physics: Plants, Animals, and the Atmosphere. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-386993-7.
  5. ^ Monteith, J. L. (1965). "Evaporation and environment" (PDF). Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology. 19: 205–234. PMID 5321565.
  6. ^ Monteith, J. L. (1996). "The Quest for Balance in Crop Modeling". Agronomy Journal. 88 (5): 695. doi:10.2134/agronj1996.00021962008800050003x.
  7. ^ Monteith, J. L. (1994). "Validity of the correlation between intercepted radiation and biomass". Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 68 (3–4): 213. doi:10.1016/0168-1923(94)90037-X.
  8. ^ Monteith, John L.; Mount, Laurence E., eds. (1974). Heat Loss from Animals and Man. London: Butterworths. ISBN 040870652X.
  9. ^ "Distinguished Voices Audio: John Lennox Monteith DSc FRS FRMetS (interview: 2 hours 40 mins in 4 parts)". Royal Meteorological Society. 1994. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ Carter, T. R. (2013). "Agricultural Impacts: Multi-model yield projections". Nature Climate Change. 3 (9): 784. doi:10.1038/nclimate1995.
  11. ^ Monteith, J. L. (2007). "Climatic variation and the growth of crops". Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 107 (454): 749–774. doi:10.1002/qj.49710745402.
  12. ^ Sparkes, D. (2009). "Preface". Journal of Experimental Botany. 60 (7): 1897. doi:10.1093/jxb/erp124.
  13. ^ a b Ong, C.; Black, C. (2012). "John Monteith". Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 166-167: A1. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2012.10.012.
  14. ^ "Professor John Lennox Monteith FRS FRSE". Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Prizes awarded by the Human and Animal Nutrition and Crop Husbandry Fund". Rank Prize Funds. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Awards-Historical List" (PDF). Royal Meteorological Society. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  17. ^ "EC/1971/17: Monteith, John Lennox". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014.