annu al repor t 201 3-201 4 - gestar



annu al repor t 201 3-201 4 - gestar
Goddard Earth Sciences
Technology and Research
Studies and Investigations
The GESTAR Team.................................................................................................5
Achuthavarier, Deepthi
Anyamba, Assaf
Aquila, Valentina
Barker, Ryan
Beck, Jefferson
Bell, Benita
Belvedere, Debbie
Bensusen, Sally
Bindschadler, Robert
Bridgman, Tom
Brucker, Ludovic
Brunt, Kelly
Burger, Matthew
Cede, Alexander
Celarier, Edward
Chang, Yehui
Chase, Tyler
Chern, Jiun-Dar
Cheung, Samson
Cho, Naeyong
Cohen, Jarrett
Colombo, Oscar
Corso, William
Cote, Charles
Damoah, Richard
De Lannoy, Gabrielle
J. M.
De Matthaeis, Paolo
Diehl, Thomas
Draper, Clara
Duberstein, Genna
Eck, Thomas
Errico, Ronald
Fitzgibbons, Ryan
Follette-Cook, Melanie
Gallagher, Dan
Ganeshan, Manishan
Garner, Robert
Gassó, Santiago
Gatebe, Charles
Gautam, Ritesh
Girotto, Manuela
Gong, Jie
Graham, Steven
Grecu, Mircea
Gupta, Pawan
Ham, Yoo-Geun
Han, Mei
Handleman, Michelle
Hanson, Heather
Holdaway, Daniel
Humberson, Winnie
Hurwitz, Margaret
Jentoft-Nilsen, Marit
Jethva, Hiren
Jiang, Le
Jin, Daeho
Jin, Jianjun
Johnson, Leann
Ju, Junchang
Kekesi, Alex
Kim, Dongchul
Kim, Hyokyung
Kim, Min-Jeong
Korkin, Sergey
Kostis, Helen-Nicole
Kowalewski, Matthew
Kucsera, Tom
Kurylo, Michael
Ladd, David
Lait, Leslie
Lamsal, Lok
Laughlin, Daniel
Lawford, Richard
Lee, Dong Min
Lee, Seung Kuk
Leidner, Allison
Lentz, Michael
Lewis, Katherine
Li, Feng
Li, Xiaowen
Liang, Qing
Liao, Liang
Lim, Young-Kwon
Lipschultz, Fredric
Liu, Junhua
Lyu, Chen-Hsuan (Joseph)
Malanoski, Mark
Malespin, Charles
Marchant, Benjamin
Margolis, Hank
McBride, Patrick
McGrath-Spangler, Erica
McLean, Debbi
Meyer, Kerry
Miller, Kevin
Mohammed, Priscilla
Monroe, Brian
Mounirou Torre, Ally
Norris, Peter
Olsen, Mark
Osmanoglu, Batuhan
Pan, Xiaohua
Pasolli, Edoardo
Patadia, Falguni
Peng, Jinzheng
Perez-Ramirez, Daniel
Phillips, Jackie
Potter, Gerald
Prive, Nikki
Radcliff, Matthew
Randles, Cynthia
Rault, Didier
Reale, Oreste
Retscher, Christian
Rousseaux, Cecile
Sayer, Andrew
Schiffer, Robert
Schindler, Trent
Selkirk, Henry
Sharghi, Kayvon
Shi, Jainn Jong (Roger)
Sippel, Jason
Smith, Sarah
Soebiyanto, Radina
Sokolowsky, Eric
Southard, Adrian
Stanley, Thomas
Starr, Cynthia
Steenrod, Stephen
Stein-Zweers, Deborah
Stoyanova, Silvia
Strahan, Susan
Strode, Sarah
Suarez, Max
Sun, Zhibin
Swanson, Andrew
Taha, Ghassan
Tao, Zhining
Teinturier, Samuel
Tian, Lin
Trapp, Cindy
Ungar, Stephen
Unninayar, Sushel
Utku, Cuneyt
Veselovskii, Igor
Vikhliaev, Yury
Wang, James
Ward, Alan
Weaver, Kristen
Weir, Brad
Wen, Guoyong
Wiessinger, Scott
Witmer, Stu
Wright, Ernest
Xu, Hui
Yang, Weidong
Yang, Yuekui
Yao, Tian
Yasunari, Teppei
Zeng, Xiping
Zhang, Qingyuan
Zhang, Yan
Zhou, Jiansong
Zhou, Yaping
Ziemke, Jerald
Administrative Staff
Arens, Jeff
Baird, Steve
(Dalnekoff) Smith, Julie
Foster, Sarah
Houghton, Amy
John, Sharon
Kannon, Stacey
Maginnis, Beth
Morgan, Dagmar
Queen, Lynette
Richardson, Linda
Samuel Kerr, Elamae
Technical Research................................................................................................6
Code 555
Code 586
Code 606.2
Code 610
Code 610.1
Code 610.2
Code 612
Code 613
Code 614
Code 615
Code 617
Code 618
Code 699
Microwave Instrument Technology Branch.......................................6
Science Data Management Branch.............................................7
High Performance Computing..........................................................7
Earth Sciences Division....................................................................7
Global Modeling And Assimilation Office.....................................14
Global Change Data Center..........................................................22
Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Laboratory.............................24
Climate And Radiation Laboratory................................................28
Atmospheric Chemistry And Dynamics Laboratory......................34
Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory..................................................49
Hydrological Sciences Laboratory...................................................50
Biospheric Sciences Laboratory.....................................................58
Planetary Environments Laboratory................................................61
Delivering the Message....................................................................................63
Code 130..........................................................................................................................63
Code 606.4 Scientific Visualization Studio..................................................................74
Global Science & Technology.......................................................................................79
Code 160 Office of Education.......................................................................................82
Technical Editor
Amy Houghton
Graphic Design
Erin Carver
Student Engagements and Education/Public Outreach..............................85
SDO’s Jewel Box Sun. Image Credit: T. Bridgman, G. Duberstein
Letter from GESTAR Director..............................................................................4
Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) spacecraft; Image Credit: T. Chase
June 10, 2014
We are pleased to offer this third NASA Goddard
Earth Sciences, Technology, and Research (GESTAR)
Cooperative Agreement Annual Report for the
period 11 May 2013 – 10 May 2014. NASA awarded
GESTAR to the team of Universities Space Research
Association (USRA), Morgan State University (MSU),
Johns Hopkins University (JHU), I.M. Systems Group
(IMSG), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
(IGES), and Ball Aerospace for a period of five years
(2011-2016). Last year, we welcomed Global Science
and Technology (GST) to our team. As we passed our
halfway period-of-performance milestone this past year, GESTAR continued
to be among major NASA Goddard Space flight Facility partnerships. During
Year-3, the number of GESTAR tasks grew approximately 22 percent from our
second year.
This report summarizes multidisciplinary efforts of GESTAR-affiliated
researchers, technologists, students, visitors, and staff. We describe
accomplishments for the past year and technical progress in all research areas
identified in the GESTAR Annual Research Program Plan, submitted to NASA
on 31 July 2013. Within the report and its appendices are: a) abstracts and
papers published by GESTAR-affiliated staff; b) GESTAR-affiliated presentations
at conferences, seminars, and workshops; c) education and public outreach
engagements by GESTAR-affiliated staff; d) awards received by GESTARaffiliated staff; e) engagement of GESTAR-affiliated staff in reviewing/advising/
committee participation activities, and; f) travel/meeting support provided by
This past year, everyone at GESTAR worked diligently with our NASA sponsors/
collaborators to ensure success of critically important projects that support
NASA’s mission in Earth Sciences and beyond. Their efforts have resulted in
many substantive accomplishments, highlighted in this report. Our sincerest
thanks go out to all for their commitment and professionalism. We look
forward to applying our knowledge and experience to the upcoming year to
ensure GESTAR continues to exceed all of our expectations.
William Corso
Joseph Whittaker (Associate Director – Morgan State University)
Darryn Waugh (Associate Director – Johns Hopkins University)
Le Jiang (Associate Director – IMSG)
4 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
GESTAR Director: Dr. William Corso
Associate Director: Dr. Darryn Waugh, JHU
Associate Director: Dr. Joseph Whittaker, MSU
Associate Director: Dr. Le Jiang, ISMG
Business Manager: Ms. Dagmar Morgan
Founded in 1969, Universities Space Research Association
(USRA) is an independent nonprofit research corporation that
conducts basic and applied research and operates programs and
national facilities for government and industry, many of which are
in support of NASA. USRA currently manages 20 programs and
facilities that employ more than 400 scientific, technical, and
professional staff. With 105 university members, USRA provides
a unique and special value that other research organizations do
not. Only PhD-granting universities in Earth and space sciences
with demonstrated outstanding research abilities are eligible for
membership in USRA. USRA’s mission is to advance Earth and
space sciences and exploration through innovative research,
technology, and educational programs, and to develop and operate premier facilities and programs by involving universities, the
private sector, and governments.
Founded in 1876 as the first research university in the United
States, The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is one of the leading research institutions in the nation. JHU is composed of
nine academic divisions, including Arts & Sciences, Education,
Engineering, the School of Public Health, plus JHU Applied Physics
Laboratory. The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences is the home
of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. A major
focus within this department is global change science, with active
research groups in atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrospheric sciences as well as planetary geodynamics. The department maintains state-of-the-art design and engineering facilities, as well as
laboratories for high performance computing and large-scale data
analysis that are also being used for Earth system science. JHU’s
Whiting School of Engineering consists of faculty who possess
experimental, computational, robotic and modeling capabilities.
Additionally, faculty at the School of Public Health are involved
with the application of Earth system science and remote sensing
to the study and teaching of public/environmental health.
Morgan State University (MSU), founded in 1867, is one of the
nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The University offers a comprehensive program of studies
at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Morgan State has
continuously served the community with distinction while meeting
the educational needs of an increasingly diverse society. Designated as Maryland’s Public Urban University, MSU will continue
its prominence in Maryland’s educational future. In many fields,
particularly in engineering and the sciences, MSU accounts for
large percentages of degrees received by African-Americans from
Maryland institutions. At the graduate level, it awards doctoral
and master’s degrees in several selected fields. The University
has made a major commitment to academic excellence, investing
substantial resources to enhance its research infrastructure, and
stimulate research development in a broad range of disciplines,
especially STEM. In addition to the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr.
School of Engineering complex, MSU has the Estuarine Research
Center, the Richard N. Dixon Science Research Center, a stateof-the-art research facility that provides space for specialized
research laboratories in physics, chemistry, and biology, and the
modern Murphy Fine Arts Center.
I.M. Systems Group (IMSG) has over 15 years of providing environmental, scientific, technical, and I support to the US government as well as environmental services to government agencies
in Africa and Asia. Over 60% of its workforce has advanced
degrees with over 100 PhD researchers. IMSG is NOAA’s largest
support service, with its largest concentration of researchers and
support scientists in the Satellite Applications Research Center
and the NWS Environmental Modeling Center.
Rounding out the GESTAR Team are Ball Aerospace and Technologies and The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
(IGES). GESTAR Management continues to work to identify appropriate, GESTAR-affiliated activities in which they may become
meaningfully engaged.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 5
Scheduled for launch in October 2014, NASA’s Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) Mission is the first of a series of Earth
Science Decadal Survey missions. This mission will provide global
measurements of soil moisture and freeze/thaw state using Lband radar and radiometry. Dr. Priscilla Mohammed (sponsor: J.
Piepmeier) is working with a collaborative team at NASA Goddard
to develop the L1B TB algorithm which converts radiometer data
into calibrated estimates of brightness temperature. The effort includes research and development of radio frequency interference
(RFI) detection and removal algorithms and prototype instrument
algorithm code for the L1B TB algorithm which is part of ground
processing. Data in the reference and reference plus noise diode
radiometric states (calibration data) are used to compute antenna
temperatures referenced to the feedhorn. In these states, the
radiometer is isolated from the energy collected by the antenna
via a switch. In most cases RFI is isolated from this data; however,
at extremely high levels, RFI can leak through the switch and
contaminate these data values resulting in inaccurate calibration.
As a result, the algorithm was written to handle this by including
functions to detect and remove RFI from the calibration input
Results from flight model testing of the radiometer instrument
revealed the presence of 1/f noise in the data. The baseline
algorithm met requirements; however, the prototype code for the
calibration algorithm was modified to investigate whether the 1/f
noise impact could be reduced, and several calibration algorithms
were used on test data in the analysis to determine the best possible solution. As a result, the instrument team altered the radiometer
switching scheme in order to reduce
the 1/f noise in the radiometer data,
and the method of data calibration
was modified, and the TA calibration in
the L1B_TB algorithm was reworked to
incorporate these changes. Changes
were made to the previous prototype
code as well as an additional function
written with about 250 lines of Matlab
code; subsequently, the new prototype
code was submitted to JPL for conversion to the production version of the
Dr. Mohammed began work on writing tools in Matlab for use during the
calibration/validation period for SMAP
after launch. Data will need to be
analyzed in order to update various
ancillary files to be used in process6 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Credit: Jinzheng Peng
ing as well as to trend and monitor the SMAP instrument. She
wrote a script in Matlab to read the HDF5 files which the Science
Data System will produce; this script will be used in subsequent
tools. Over the past year, she and her colleagues have completed
a Level 1A product checker, which plots various science data and
engineering telemetry points from that file for trending. Several
scripts and functions were written to ingest large amounts of
data for analyses. Data are binned and global plots of brightness
temperatures as well as kurtosis and RFI level can be produced.
The SMAP cal/val tools completed will be demonstrated in a
Dr. Jinzheng Peng (sponsor: J. Piepmeier) works in a collaborative team developing NASA’s Soil Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP)
radiometer. Work involves researching and developing prelaunch and post-launch calibration theoretical bases, plans and
activities, and data reductions. He is specifically responsible for
developing the SMAP L1B correction algorithms, the SMAP Level
1 brightness temperature forward simulator, and calibration/
validation tools. The SMAP L1B correction algorithms will obtain
the Earth surface brightness temperature from the calibrated and
RFI-free antenna temperature. Unwanted emissions from the Sun,
the Moon, the galaxy, atmosphere and the Earth in the antenna
sidelobe need to be removed from the radiometer measurements,
and the effects of the atmospheric attenuation and Faraday rotation to the radiometer measurement need to characterized and
corrected. These correction algorithms successfully passed the
SMAP science algorithm review in September 2013.
The SMAP Level 1 brightness temperature forward simulator is a
major risk-reduction asset for the SMAP radiometer L1B algorithm
development. Currently all of the effects of the unwanted sources
(except RFI) and propagation effects depicted in Figure 1 can be
simulated. Dr. Peng is working on the simulator development and
generating data for the SMAP radiometer L1B algorithm.
Cal/Val tools are developed in order for cal/val activities to
be able to assess the precision and calibration stability of the
instrument and to evaluate the accuracy and quality of the data
products generation by the science data software (SDS). Dr. Peng
developed several cal/val tools, one being the simplified SMAP
L1B forward brightness simulator. In conjunction with TA Counts
simulator, which simulates the radiometer output with given antenna temperature and the L1A shell file, the SMAP simulator can
generate simulated L1A data product to test the radiometer L1B
SDS, which generates L1B data product. These simulated L1A
and L1B data products can be used to test all other cal/val tools.
In addition, the simplified SMAP L1B forward brightness simulator
will be used by the external calibration and drift correction cal/val
tool, which Dr. Peng also is developing.
Dr. Alexander Cede (sponsor: K. Blank) performs EPIC stray
light analysis and incorporates optical modeling of EPIC (Earth
Polychromatic Imaging Camera). He obtains and organizes all of
the laboratory data for EPIC derived by Lockheed during the EPIC
refurbishment, identifies missing parts of the Lockheed measurements, analyzes the Lockheed data for EPIC pixel to pixel uniformity, and delivers documentation and examples of applying the
inversion showing a successful reduction in stray light to each of
the 10 EPIC radiance channels. He has identified work remaining
to be done while EPIC is on-orbit and obtaining data, and conducted a lunar calibration analysis using a “lunar smear” technique.
Dr. Cede analyzes the problem of EPIC viewing the Moon with the
shutter open as the EPIC field of view sweeps across the lunar
surface (e.g., from east to west). By using existing lunar data
(e.g., from LRO), he attempted to obtain an absolute calibration
of each of the corresponding LRO wavelength channels (6 out of
10 EPIC filter channels). A procedure is being developed for the
remaining 4 channels based on partial lunar sweeps consistent
with avoiding overexposure of the CCD. Version 5 of the EPIC L1a
processing software was finished; this version performs 8 of a total of 15 correction steps needed to convert the EPIC raw images
(L0) into calibrated radiances (L1a). The base for this effort was a
careful analysis of EPIC’s out-of-CCD blooming, read wave effect,
dark current behavior, enhanced pixels effect, and latency effect.
Dr. Yuekui Yang (sponsor: K. Blank) works on developing an
algorithm that is suitable for generating RGB images from data
observed by the DSCOVR satellite. He also works on developing
techniques for a data quality check for the mission. Dr. Yang developed software tools for RGB image study. With MODIS data as
a proxy, he has developed a suite of code to perform atmospheric
Rayleigh correction, image enhancement, RGB image display
and output. The code can also resample the image into DSCOVR
resolution. Rayleigh correction is needed for generating sharper
RGB images. Dr. Yang conducted research on atmospheric Rayleigh correction methods: two Rayleigh correction methods have
been tested, including scaling the reflectance at the red, green,
and blue channels and a two-layer model originally developed by
the MODIS rapid response team. Results show that the MODIS
method produces better images. Additionally, Dr. Yang conducted
research on potential methods for DSCOVR data quality check.
Several indices are defined for this purpose, including channel
ratios and cloud height indices. Radiative transfer calculations
are performed in order to quantify the valid value range of these
indices. Data values that are out of the valid range can be defined
as bad data. Dr. Yang has delivered the first version of the RGB
image processing algorithm package to the DSCOVR Science
Operation Center. The software package is written in FORTRAN;
it reads the future DSCOVR L1B data and generates the ready-todisplay images. Data is processed based on whether a pixel is for
the earth, the moon or space.
Dr. Gerald Potter (sponsor: P. Webster) assists the NCCS with
deployment of the ESGF portal and the publication of model and
observational data. He also works to help with development of
appropriate analysis software for climate models. This past year
has brought progress with the reanalysis for model intercomparison projects. He and his colleagues have successfully obtained,
converted, evaluated and published three major reanalyses in the
ana4MIPs project. This has proven to be an extensive project and
an outgrowth of the obs4MIPs project. Dr. Potter has also helped
with the testing phase of the ultra-scale visualization for climate
model data analysis (UVCDAT) tools, in particular the NASAcontributed DV3D module. He has given numerous presentations
to NOAA, NASA, and DOE groups to demonstrate the value of 3D
visualization in climate science. He will continue to search for
relevant reanalysis products that will enhance the NASA MERRA
products as well as provide the wider scientific community with
standardized level-4 data sets for climate model improvement.
Mr. Charles Cote (sponsor: K. Mohr) performs a wide variety of
tasks. This past year, Mr. Cote completed a draft of the 2013
Atmospheric Research Report, which is now being formatted
and edited. This report covers the 2013-year activities across
all elements of research carried out in the various Laboratories.
It addresses major activities such as flight mission studies and
development, field campaigns, modeling, education and outreach,
and scientific publications. This report will be printed for distribution and posted on the atmospheres webpage at atmospheres., along with previous years’ reports. For the 2014
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 7
report, he has begun to collect material and write various sections. Mr. Cote also reviewed Monthly Science Highlights submitted by laboratory scientists. The highlights are distributed monthly
to Headquarters and other selected scientists and organizations.
Each highlight represents a topic from each of the three Atmospheric Laboratories and the Wallops Support Office. Items are
reviewed for accuracy and format as well as persuasiveness to
attract readers, and also are posted on the atmospheres webpage. Additionally, he reviewed 15 IRAD 14 Step 1 proposals over
the past year, submitted recommendations and participated in
a meeting with each Atmospheric investigator to provide suggestions for improvements prior to Step 2 submissions. Following the
Step 1 process, he reviewed 11 STEP 2 proposals and attended a
review panel meeting where approvals and priorities were established for 35 proposals; 29 were selected for funding in FY14.
The 50th anniversary of the Nimbus 1 satellite launch will occur
in 2014, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is planning a
seminar series on the scientific accomplishments, highlighting
the societal and commercial benefits made possible through the
48 experimental instrument systems flown throughout the seven
Nimbus missions. Mr. Cote will coordinate the scientific program,
and the Public Affairs Office will play a major role in organizing
the overall event. Mr. Cote also performs general administrative
duties, such as attending general and senior staff Laboratory
meetings, attending various seminars and colloquia, and consulting with the Lab Chief (Bill Lau) and Associate Chief (Karen Mohr)
on various topics dealing with Laboratory personnel, administration, management, etc.
Dr. Margaret Hurwitz (sponsor: P. Newman) analyzes and models
the impact of sea surface temperature variability on the ozone
layer. Her work involves understanding the role of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in climate and stratospheric modification, which
is a project she works on with Dr. Feng Li, Dr. Qing Liang, Dr. Paul
Newman and Mr. Eric Fleming. She has begun simulations testing the climate and ozone sensitivity of the ocean-atmosphere
version of the GEOS chemistry-climate model (GEOSCCM). She
has given several presentations on this topic, nationally and internationally. Over the past year, Dr. Hurwitz completed an analysis
of the seasonal mean, extra-tropical atmospheric response to El
Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the CMIP5 models. She met
with the ENSO working group at the SPARC DynVar workshop in
April 2013, where she presented a poster. She also has a related
paper in press with Climate Dynamics and JGR. Work related to
the QBO and other GEOSCCM-related activities also led to several
national presentations as well as many co-authored publications.
Dr. Leslie Lait (sponsor P. Newman) focuses his research on
investigating the dynamical context of atmospheric measurements, to aid in their interpretation. Data from several sources
(satellite, balloon-borne, aircraft, and ground-based instruments)
are analyzed with an emphasis on using techniques that assist in
combining disparate data sources to yield a unified picture. He
8 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
also provides support to aircraft field experiments, including the
use of forecasts and modeling results to aid in planning aircraft
flights to maximize the scientific return and test the feasibility of
various flight path scenarios. For the second science campaign of
the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) field experiment,
staged from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility from August 11 through
September 27, 2013, Dr. Lait provided preparation and flight
planning support. Preparations included modifying the locallywritten flight planning software to accommodate new needs of the
HS3 mission, packing equipment and initiating arrangements for
shipment to Wallops, and participating in teleconferences. On-site
field mission support involved planning science flights, evaluating various scenarios for timing and feasibility, and determining
way points and dropsonde locations. He prepared materials for
the flight crew and the leading mission scientists, and uploaded
descriptive files to the project’s web-based collaborative tools
website for use by all participants. In addition, he used meteorological forecasts to model the fuel temperature on the aircraft, to
avoid dangerously cold regions in which the fuel could be prone
to freezing. To adjust for the movement of the tropical storm systems being examined, Dr. Lait assisted in revising the flight paths
in real time during flight, and set up and maintained the computer
systems used for flight planning. Several mission forecasters
were trained in utilizing the flight planning software. After the Wallops phase of the experiment ended, the second Global Hawk aircraft was flown in a test flight from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research
Center. This flight, flown on October 31, 2013, was intended to
examine some performance characteristics of the aircraft with an
altered payload. To allow the science team to monitor the altitude time history of the aircraft in real time and compare it with
previous flights, Dr. Lait created software to display the current
altitude history alongside previous flights’. After the test flight, he
performed an analysis of the data gathered, showing that the payload change made no difference in the aircraft’s ability to climb.
He participated in the HS3 Science Team meeting held at NASA’s
Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA and participated in
numerous teleconferences and planning discussions. In the coming year, new capabilities will be added to the flight planner. Dr.
Lait will provide on-site flight planning support for the HS3 deployment scheduled for Aug-Sept 2014 at Wallops Island.
In a refinement of an analysis carried out last year addressing the
feasibility of flying through the extremely cold temperatures of the
tropical tropopause region, Dr. Lait used a new set of meteorological data, NASA’s Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research
and Applications (MERRA), to compile improved statistics of cold
temperatures over the region near Guam. The white paper from
last year was revised and extended accordingly, and copies were
distributed to ATTREX leadership. Work also continued on modeling the fuel temperatures on the Global Hawk aircraft. A new
set of equations were developed that better characterizes the
aircraft’s thermal behavior, and data from ATTREX flights of 2012
and 2013 were used to fit the resulting coefficients. The model
now reproduces actual ATTREX fuel temperatures with impressive
accuracy, and can now be tuned for use with new payloads. He
wrote a description of the model and its characteristics in a white
paper that was subsequently distributed to appropriate parties.
From January 7 thought March 16, 2014, Dr. Lait traveled to
Guam to support the final ATTREX deployment at Andersen Air
Force Base. He evaluated various scenarios for timing and feasibility of flight plans, and determined way points. As with the HS3
field campaign, Dr. Lait prepared materials for the ATTREX flight
crew (including high-altitude meteorological forecasts) and the
leading mission scientists, and uploaded descriptive files to the
project’s web-based collaborative tools website for participants’
use. He used meteorological forecasts to model the fuel temperature on the aircraft to determine the likelihood of fuel freezing,
and assisted in revising the flight paths in real time during flight
to adjust for the movement of the tropical storm systems being
examined. He set up and maintained the computer systems used
for flight planning on site.
the agency clearance process for the NCA report and highlights
document. Within NASA, she leads weekly meetings to brief Earth
Science Division senior management on NCA progress. She has
been working with agency communications personnel and ESD
senior management to develop plans for the rollout of the report.
She also led several briefings to agency leadership on the report.
In addition to supporting activities associated with the Third NCA
Report, she also provides support for NASA’s involvement in the
sustained assessment process for the NCA. Dr. Leidner helps
coordinate activities in two NASA programs that fund research
activities in support of the sustained assessment process for the
NCA. In April 2014, she ran a highly successful team meeting that
brought together 26 PIs and an additional ~25 researchers, NASA
program managers, and agency/USGCRP representatives. The
meeting featured projects talks and several discussion sections
that fostered collaborations among the research teams. She is
also involved in a USGCRP scenarios group that is organizing a
workshop for June 2014.
Dr. Lait made extensive revisions to the locally-developed
software for planning science flights for field experiments. He
re-implemented the way locations are defined, allowing for the
possibility of defining some locations relative to other locations
and thus permitting complicated patterns of aircraft maneuvers
to be relocated easily. He also created two new maneuvers to
describe rectangular and circular regions within which an aircraft
is to spend a given amount of time. In addition, he created a
series of screencast-style video tutorials for training new users on
how to run the flight planning software. He completed software to
read and write two-dimensional data exchange files in the ICARTT
format, and work began on similar software to read and write the
Hipskind-Gaines exchange file format. Last fall, Dr. Lait participated in preparing computer systems in Code 614 for the shutdown
of the U.S. Federal Government which began on October 1, and in
the recovery activities afterwards on October 17. He also participated in a review of a security vulnerability that had been found
in a contractor-maintained website, helping to provide immediate
and long-term assistance in ameliorating the risk.
Dr. Leidner provides ongoing support to the Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting programs in a variety of ways. This year, she
focused on developing biodiversity-oriented content for the NASA
hyperwall and serving as a liaison to the conservation remote
sensing community. To this end, Dr. Leidner participated in a ~30
person conservation remote sensing workshop, organized by
the Committee on Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS) Biodiversity
group and hosted at the European Commission’s Joint Research
Centre. After the workshop she developed a meeting summary
that was subsequently published in Eos, Transactions of the
American Geophysical Union. This effort builds on her previous
work with the Conservation Remote Sensing Working Group and
the CEOS Biodiversity group. Going forward, within the Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting programs, she will continue to
work with the conservation remote sensing community, highlight
program accomplishments, and help develop program strategies.
Dr. Allison Leidner (sponsor: J. Richards) has two main responsibilities working with the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters: she is part of the team that leads NASA’s involvement
with the National Climate Assessment (NCA), and she provides
support for activities within the Biodiversity and Ecological
Forecasting Programs. She is NASA’s representative on the U.S.
Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Interagency NCA
Working Group and serves as the primary point of contact for the
agency’s NCA activities. A major accomplishment this year was
the review and release of the Third NCA Report (May 2014). This
report has been under development for over three years and involved hundreds of people. Dr. Leidner actively participated in the
biweekly meetings of the interagency working group that helped
shepherd the report through the final stages and assisted with
This past July was the biennial international meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, held in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Leidner
presented on the NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting Programs. Furthermore, in collaboration with EOSPSO, she
coordinated bringing the NASA hyperwall to the conference. She
arranged for four biodiversity/ecological forecasting PIs and one
program manager to present during the official conference coffee
breaks, and also gave two hyperwall talks herself. The hyperwall
was a huge success, and each talk was attended by 50-100
people. She and other program managers have used this content
at other professional conferences, and several of the PIs have
given their talks at other conferences. Working with the EOSPSO
team, Dr. Leidner contributed to the development of the brochure
“Understanding Earth: Biodiversity”. This public-oriented booklet
provides an overview of biodiversity and describes the contributions of NASA remote sensing to biodiversity research and ecological forecasting applications. Prepared in time for distribution at
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 9
the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, this booklet was very popular at AGU
and subsequent meetings.
Dr. Feng Li (sponsor: P. Newman) conducts research on the
interaction of the stratosphere and troposphere, particularly as
it relates to the interaction of the ocean and the stratospheric
ozone layer; investigates how atmosphere-ocean coupling affects
the stratosphere, and how the stratospheric ozone change affects
climate in the troposphere and ocean; works toward improving our
understanding of stratospheric dynamic and transport processes.
In order to address the full extent of the complex interactions
between stratospheric ozone chemistry and radiative, physical,
dynamical processes in the atmosphere and ocean, the development of a coupled atmosphere-ocean-chemistry climate model
is essential. Dr. Li has successfully integrated the GEOS-AOCCM,
which consists of the GEOS-5 AGCM, the GFDL MOM4 ocean
model, the Los Alamos CICE sea ice model, and a comprehensive
stratospheric chemistry package. He conducted two 100-year
time slice simulations under the 1950 and 2005 conditions,
as well as a set of four transient simulations of the recent past
(1960-2010). Additionally, three sets of sensitivity simulations
of the recent past were conducted with the GEOS-CCM (without
coupled ocean) and GEOS-AOGCM (without interactive ozone). In
summary, a total of 1,000 model years were conducted. These
baseline and sensitivity simulations were used to investigate 1)
the impact of interactive ozone on climate in the atmosphere and
ocean, and 2) the effects of atmosphere-ocean-ice coupling on climate, variability, and trend in the troposphere and stratosphere.
Most coupled atmosphere-ocean models do not have interactive stratospheric ozone. These models prescribe monthly-mean,
zonal-mean ozone derived from observations or CCM simulations.
By prescribing monthly-mean, zonal-mean ozone, these models
cannot resolve the large diurnal cycle of the mesospheric ozone,
underestimate ozone extreme events, and lack zonal asymmetries. However, it is unclear how these deficiencies impact climate
simulations. In order to address this question, a set of four prescribed-ozone simulations of the recent past (1960-2010) were
conducted. In this set of sensitivity simulation, the ozone field
is prescribed from the corresponding AOCCM simulations, and
they produce significantly different climate in the mesosphere,
stratosphere, and troposphere from that in the interactive-ozone
simulations. Also, prescribed ozone affects simulations of the sea
surface temperature, particularly in the north Pacific and north Atlantic. These results are being analyzed and a journal manuscript
is in preparation. Dr. Li will be collaborating with Dr. Margaret
Hurwitz to integrate HFC chemistry and radiation into the GEOSAOCCM, and will conduct control and sensitivity simulations to
investigate the impacts of HFCs on stratosphere, particularly
stratospheric ozone recovery.
Ms. Jackie Phillips (sponsor: E. Brown de Colstoun) works with an
experienced team in developing data sets, testing the methodolo10 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
gy, and validating the end products of the Global Land Survey and
Impervious Mapping Project (GLS-IMP), participating in various
tasks. Ms. Phillips has created and launched a public website
for the GLS - IMP. Currently still under construction, the website
contains information such as project details, contact information, and information on obtaining data. This site is meant to be
a place for interested scientists and the public to obtain more
information on the growth of urban areas throughout the globe.
From the creation of this site, Ms. Phillips was able to explore the
many capabilities of ArcGIS Online (AGOL) and incorporate it into
her site. AGOL, an online GIS mapping tool, allows GIS developers
and researchers to share their maps and imagery without giving
out the raw data. She further developed her editing and writing
skills, and learned more about website development by attending
the ESRI Developers Summit in Washington, D.C. in February. She
also had to confirm the site met federal compliance standards
and accessibility standards.
She also completed the training data for the GLS-IMP. Ms. Phillips
and her colleague ordered over 1,700 WorldView and Quickbird
high-resolution scenes from the National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency’s WARP database, and organized and pre-processed
selected images. Image labeling began while completing the
pre-processing. Nearly 700 images were selected as training
sites. The subsetting of these images resulted in nearly 2,000
images manually labeled as pervious or non-impervious regions.
Labeling rules were created during the process through a series
of meetings with team members at the University of Maryland.
Ms. Phillips and her teammates discussed quality assurance,
and each corresponding Landsat image had its orthorectification
visually assessed; in some cases, adjustments were necessary to
maintain accurate geolocation. Locations with orthorectification
errors were repaired through further processing. All global training
data labeling was completed in March 2014 for the Global Land
Survey and Impervious Mapping Project. Some sites still need
their orthorectification reviewed, but the process is expected to be
completed by early May 2014.
At the NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program Meeting, Ms.
Phillips presented a poster detailing the training data process for
the GLS-IMP, which covered all aspects of the training process,
including pre-processing, data acquisition, image classification,
quality assurance, and a summary of the total data processed.
This was her first presentation at a professional meeting.
Training data labeling for the GLS-IMP was completed using an inhouse software suite called HSeg, developed by James Tilton. The
HSegLearn package was developed specifically for this project.
Ms. Phillips provided feedback regarding functionality, suggested
improvements, and tested for bugs. She created how-to documentations for team members to learn how to use the software. For
her contributions, she was listed as a NASA Co-Innovator for the
HSegLearn Software.
Dr. Oreste Reale (sponsor: W. K.
Lau) carries out numerical model
experiments using the GEOS-5 GCM
with interactive aerosols, to study the
impact of dry air intrusion and radiative effects of Saharan dust on structure of tropical easterly waves and
tropical cyclogenesis. He validates
model results against CloudsatCalipso observation, making use of
the Goddard Satellite Data Assimilation System, and evaluates possible
change in predictability of tropical
easterlies waves; he also performs
simulations studies of high impact
extreme current events, with and
without AIRS cloudy sky retrievals
to assess impacts improving initial
conditions on predicting these events
and any possible teleconnectivity
between them. This past year, Dr.
Reale completed the investigation of
the results of a previously performed
experiment with the latest version
of the GEOS-5 data assimilation and
forecast system. The model configuration included an innovative aerosol
Figure: Analysis of Aerosol Optical Depth from the GEOS-5, obtained by direct assimilation
assimilation capability, developed by
of MODIS optical depth, at a time of a strong outbreak of Saharan Dust which can be seen
the GMAO. The experiment consisted
interacting with an African Easterly Wave. Two sets of forecasts (in which the radiative effects
of a 30-day-long global data assimilaof Saharan dust are in turn enabled or disabled) are initialized from these analyses. The
tion run, in which optical depths from
results show that the environment in which dust is taken into account is less conducive to
MODIS were assimilated, and two
tropical cyclogenesis (Reale et al. 2014, in press in Geophysical Research Letters) (Image
sets of 5-day forecasts, with and withCredit: O. Reale).
out aerosol simulation, initialized every day. A subset of 8 forecasts durtion, and indicate that the impact of dust on TC growth is negaing a particularly interesting period,
noteworthy because of the interaction with African Easterly Waves tive, as several previous studies suggested. The use of aerosol
assimilation in a global modeling setting further strengthens the
with strong Saharan dust outbreaks, was extended to 10 days to
understanding of the mechanisms involved.
further explore the effect of dust with developing cyclones. Two
major results are the outcome of this study. First, the experiDr. Oreste Reale (Tech. Officer: K. Lau) also conducts research
ments reveal that the effect of dust is to inhibit tropical cyclone
related to his NASA ROSES grant (6/20/2011-6/19/2014) of
(TC) development. When a TC is present in two parallel simulawhich he is the PI. The goal of this current proposal is to investitions (with and without aerosol effects) the one in which aerosol
gate the impact on the representation of tropical cyclones within
effects are taken into account tend to be less intense. Second,
a global data assimilation and forecasting framework, consequent
these experiments represent the first attempt of producing a fully
to the use of AIRS-derived products, as a tool to better understand
3-dimensional analysis of aerosols, obtained by assimilation in
processes affecting intensity forecast, particularly those deriving
a global system of satellite-derived MODIS optical depths, and
from the improved horizontal and vertical TC structure. To comdocument this existing capability within NASA. At this time, no
pare AIRS version 5 and 6 impacts in the GEOS-5, multiple experioperational center in the world assimilates real-time aerosol data
ments were conducted for the 2010 and 2012 hurricane seasons.
at this high resolution and in a fully coupled mode. Dr. Reale,
AIRS assimilations (of retrievals and radiances), each encompassalong with co-authors K. M. Lau, A. da Silva, and T. Matsui, has
ing more than 120 days), plus several sets of 7-day forecasts
a related article in press with Geophysical Research Letters. The
(initialized from every day of the analysis data sets, for a total of
authors documented the feasibility of real-time aerosol assimilaGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 11
GOddard SnoW Impurity Module (GOSWIM)
Dr. Teppei Yasunari’s paper was recently published on SOLA, a peer-reviewed online Journal of Meteorological Society of Japan.
This paper details Dr. Yasunari’s initial and ongoing research on developing the snow darkening module for NASA GEOS-5 over
the land surface, which can calculate how the snow can darken due to deposits of light absorbing aerosols (dust, black carbon
(BC), and organic carbon(OC)), thus influencing global climate via feedbacks between land and atmosphere. Following updates
of the snow albedo scheme and a newly developed mass concentration scheme, further GEOS-5 experiments were conducted
and validated with available observations. This
snow darkening module for GEOS-5 was named
the GOddard SnoW Impurity Module (GOSWIM).
Because of the GOSWIM development, Fortuna
2.5 version of NASA GEOS-5 is capable of
calculating the snow darkening effect over the
model-defined land surface tiles.
Yasunari, T. J., K.-M. Lau, S. P. P. Mahanama, P. R.
Colarco, A. M. da Silva, T. Aoki, K. Aoki, N. Murao, S.
Yamagata, and Y. Kodama, 2014: GOddard SnoW
Impurity Module (GOSWIM) for the NASA GEOS5 Earth System Model: Preliminary comparisons
with observations in Sapporo, Japan. SOLA, 10,
50-56, doi:10.2151/sola.2014-011. (Image
credit: T. Yasunari)
more than 1000 7-day forecasts), were performed
with the GEOS-5 on NASA High-End-Computing
(HEC) systems. These experiments cover the entire
2010 northern-hemisphere tropical cyclone season
and part of the 2012, allowing for the generation
of very robust statistics, and represent a major
computational effort that have required a full year
to be completed. Even more than in the last annual report, it can
be confidently stated that no other team in the world has assimilated such a large sample of AIRS retrievals and radiances within
a global data assimilation system. Dr. Reale extensively analyzed
these simulations and found that AIRS version 6 retrievals do not
seem to produce an improvement on the global skill of the GEOS5 system, with respect to AIRS version 5. This was an unexpected
finding, which is being investigated in depth. Note, the successor
proposal was selected, and work will continue on investigating
the use of AIRS data to further improve tropical cyclone intensity
forecast and also extreme precipitation. A special effort will be
made to start assimilating cloud-cleared radiances, which are a
state-of-the-art challenge for AIRS assimilation.
While the study of localized impacts of AIRS version 6 have
further corroborated the previous results (i.e., that assimilation of
cloudy retrievals produce a substantially better representation of
tropical cyclones than the corresponding clear-sky radiances), the
same cannot be said of global skill. In particular, results continue
to show that much deeper (and closer to observations) analyzed
12 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
center pressures are obtained when retrievals (of either version) are assimilated, and track and intensity forecast both show
improvement with respect to clear-sky radiances. Yet, no appreciable impact on global skill can be detected when AIRS version
6 replaces version 5. This perplexing finding is being investigated
from multiple angles with a variety of metrics.
Dr. Reale has conducted current experiments that suggest that
the relative impacts of AIRS retrievals and AIRS radiances change
with the increase in resolution, with the combined impact of
AMSU-A and AIRS clear-sky radiances being amplified at higher
resolutions more than the individual instrument’s impact. To further investigate the differential AMSU/AIRS impact, Dr. Reale and
his collaborators have produced new extensive simulations with
GEOS-5 v2.7, covering the 2010 northern hemisphere tropical cyclone season, in which AMSU-A is in turn assimilated or excluded
(with and without AIRS). These new runs are being analyzed and
confirm that the combined impact of AMSU and radiances together benefit from the increase in model resolution. Experiments are
being prepared in which cloud-cleared radiance assimilation will
be compared to cloudy retrievals and clear-sky radiances.
Other experiments are focused on Hurricane Sandy (2012), with
the goal of improving track and intensity forecasts. In particular,
the density of assimilated AIRS data version 6 is perturbed by
changing the data thinning. These experiments are performed
in strict collaboration with the AIRS data production teams and
should allow for the definition of the optimal data density.
results were presented by Dr. Yasunari and his sponsor, and results are being summarized for submission to a scientific journal.
Analyses will continue on the outputs from the free running NASA
GEOS-5 experiments for the heat wave-related topic. Under Dr.
Lau’s project, they intend to use the outputs from the free running
NASA GEOS-5 experiments for the heat wave related topics.
Dr. Teppei Yasunari (sponsor: W. K.M. Lau) conducts data analysis and modeling studies of the impact of light absorbing aerosols
(LAA) such as dust, black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC),
on the changes of snow-related variables (called snow darkening
effect, SDE) and its climate feedbacks between the atmosphere
and the land surface in the Asian monsoon region. He has been
developing a new snow impurity module to incorporate the SDE
into the NASA GEOS-5 land surface model. He is studying how the
SDE, which includes the changes of snow albedo, possibly has
an impact on snowpack changes around the Himalayas and the
other cryospheric regions, and surrounding climate via feedback
by using the snow impurity module in NASA GEOS-5, satellite
data, and the data from field observations. He also investigates
the nature of LAA depositions such as dust and BC. From his
research results, Dr. Yasunari produced his largest contribution to
date to NASA and GESTAR, when, after many attempts and revisions, he and his colleagues reached a snow darkening module
for dust, black carbon, and organic carbon for the NASA GEOS-5
Model called GOddard SnoW Impurity Module (GOSWIM). NASA
GEOS-5 can consider the snow darkening effect over the model
defined land surface. A related summary paper on GOSWIM was
recently published, and will appear as a Monthly Science Highlight
in May 2014 ( In the
coming year, Dr. Yasunari will be updating GOSWIM from Fortuna
2.5 version to Ganymed 4.0 version of NASA GEOS-5. Re-coding
and updates are expected in the process.
Dr. Yaping Zhou (sponsor: W. K.-M. Lau) aims to understand
global and regional extreme precipitation events in terms of the
characteristics of rain, and relationship to the prevailing weather
regimes and the relationship of extreme rain events to large-scale
environment and climate forcing. Research over the past year
involved the analyses of spatial, spectral, and temporal (seasonal
and diurnal) distributions of extreme volumetric rain based on
14 years TRMM Precipitation Feature database, examined rain
structures and associated large-scale environment including
temperature, moisture, vertical velocity, wind shear and convective available potential energy for extreme events. Dr. Zhou and
colleagues found rapid changes in rain characteristics and largescale environment in extreme events starting at the top 10% of
the distribution. A related manuscript was submitted for publication.
Dr. Yasunari and his colleagues summarized the comparisons of
total dust deposition flux during precipitation between the observations in Japan and GEOS-5 experiments. They submitted and
re-submitted a manuscript to ACP; after a rejection from ACPD,
they decided to revise another submission in the near future. He
has presented his research findings at conferences nationally and
internationally. He also prepared some materials for presentations by his sponsor at the AMS meeting in 2014. Also, on behalf
of Dr. Bruce Doddridge (NASA/LaRC), Dr. Cynthia Randles asked
him to provide some slides on his modeling work on BC on snow
for a general audience. While he provided slides on the snow
darkening effect and its modeling at NASA to support Dr. Doddridge’s presentation, these ended up not being included.
Additionally, a prototype online extreme precipitation monitoring
system has been developed from the TRMM TMPA near real-time
precipitation product. The system utilizes computed equivalent
Averaged Recurrence Interval (ARI) for up-to-date precipitation accumulations from the past 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10 days to locate locally
severe events. The mapping of precipitation accumulations into
ARI is based on local statistics fitted into Generalized Extreme
Value (GEV) distribution functions. Initial evaluation shows that
the system captures historic extreme precipitation events quite
well. The system provides additional rarity information for ongoing
precipitation events based on local climatology that could be used
by the general public and decision makers for various hazard
management applications. Limitations of the near real-time TMPA
due to short data record and accuracy are being discussed. Another related manuscript was submitted for publication.
Dr. Yasunari and his colleagues carried out ten sets of free running NASA GEOS-5 experiments with and without snow darkening
effect by dust, black carbon, and organic carbon, with the developed GOSWIM. Ten types of the different years’ initial conditions
were used to generate initial perturbations to discuss statistically
robust climatology of the snow darkening feedbacks. Some of the
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 13
CODE 610.1: Global Modeling and Assimilation Office
Dr. Deepthi Achuthavarier (sponsor: S. Schubert) evaluates
aspects of climate and weather variability in century-long simulations and decadal predictions made with the GEOS-5 coupled
atmosphere/ocean/land model. Areas of focus include the Pacific
Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation (AMO), and long-term variability in the Asian and American
monsoons. She conducts and analyzes long coupled model
simulations, ensembles of predictions, as well as model sensitivity studies to assess the impacts of uncertainties in various model
parameters. A major highlight of this past year was Dr. Achuthavarier being recognized by the NASA Global Modeling Assimilation
Office (GMAO) with the Peer Award for Scientific Achievement.
Dr. Achuthavarier has surveyed several relevant papers and prepared a summary of ideas for the decadal prediction experiments,
particularly with a focus on the PDO. This is the primary step
for the several PDO predictability experiments that she will be
conducting in the later part of 2014. Dr. Achuthavarier prepared
an article on the mechanisms of the PDO in the GEOS-5 coupled
model which will be submitted as a NASA Technical Memorandum
before the end of May 2014. Also, since November 2013, she
has been working closely with the GMAO data assimilation group
in setting up two reanalysis runs as part of the Dynamics of the
Madden Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) project. This task consists
of three key steps: 1) preparation and modification of the conventional data buffer, which involve the removal of vertical profiles
of temperature, humidity and winds from selected radiosonde
stations over the tropical Indian Ocean, 2) preparation of data
buffers for high vertical resolution radiosonde observations, and
3) execution and analysis of assimilation runs with the abovementioned modified data buffers. She has completed data buffer
modifications and new buffer preparations and has performed
several test assimilations and analyzed outputs. The final assimilation runs have begun with the use of the latest version of the
GEOS-5 atmospheric data assimilation system.
Dr. Virginie Buchard-Marchant (sponsor: A. da Silva) works
on the development of a VLIDORT (Vector LInearized Discrete
Ordinate Radiative Transfer) interface to simulate top-of the-atmosphere radiances using GEOS-5/GOCART aerosol concentrations.
She also evaluates MERRA Aerosol reanalysis absorption, and this
past year, by means of the radiative transfer GEOS-5-VLIDORT interface developed over the past few years, she could simulate the
UV Aerosol Index (AI) from the GEOS-5 aerosol assimilated fields
in order to perform comparisons with the corresponding OMI product during dust, biomass burning and pollution events. As a result
of this analysis over the Saharan dust region, the dust aerosol
optical properties were updated in GEOS-5. Her work consisted
of also utilizing complementary observations to fully diagnose
the model, including retrievals from MISR, MODIS, AERONET and
measurements from the CALIPSO mission to ascertain misplace14 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
ment of plume height by the model. She gave several presentations on this work, and a manuscript is in progress.
Following Dr. Buchard’s work on the evaluation of GEOS-5 SO2
simulations during the Frostburg, MD field campaign, a related
paper was published in ACP, and the work was highlighted on the
GMAO website as a Research Highlight.
Dr. Yehui Chang (sponsor: S. Schubert) examines the overall
evaluation of climate variability and predictability at sub-seasonalto-decadal timescales and the role of initialization in improving
prediction skill. He also works on climate simulations and attribution studies and conduct climate diagnostic studies using the
GEOS-5 model suite in the GMAO. Dr. Chang is a key contributor
to attribution studies, focusing on the role of climate models in
extreme weather events. Over the past year, he has been carrying out large ensemble high-resolution prediction experiments to
assess the ability of the GEOS-5 model to reproduce the unusual
extreme weather activity such as the flooding and other extreme
weather of the 2011 spring in the central U.S. His work has
contributed to the overall evaluation of climate variability and predictability at sub-seasonal-to-decadal timescales and the role of
initialization in improving prediction skill. The study examines the
SST boundary forcing, global atmospheric initial conditions and
North America land initial conditions and assesses the climate
factors contributing to the extreme 2011 flooding and tornadoes.
Several high-resolution GEOS-5 GCM ensemble simulations provided a high-quality global data set for this study.
Studies were continued to evaluate climate variability and predictability at sub-seasonal-to-decadal timescales. Dr. Chang has analyzed very large coupled model decadal hindcast experiments to
contribute to the GMAO decadal prediction effort, and evaluated
the AMOC and other climate variability. This research resulted in
a presentation at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting as well as a related
publication that is underway. Additionally, work continues on
the very large ensemble GCM hindcast experiments for summer
2012, specifically the imposition of the precipitation anomaly to
jumpstart a meteorological drought or heat wave after the zerorain period (compared to control). This work also will determine
the effectiveness of the kick-starting during certain time periods,
and could explore the potential sources of predictability on intraseasonal time scales. The results were presented at a conference
in February 2014. In the upcoming months, he will evaluate the
existing high-resolution GEOS-5 simulations for summer 2012 to
quantify the nature of the forcing of stationary Rossby waves and
anomalous high frequency transients associated with them.
In his study of a mechanism for land-atmosphere feedback involving planetary wave, an atmospheric general circulation model
(AGCM) is used to explore one potential mechanism for remote
soil moisture impacts on meteorological fields, a mechanism
involving the phase-locking of a planetary wave over a specific soil
moisture pattern. The precise mechanisms by which land-atmosphere feedback occurs are still largely unknown – particularly
the mechanisms that allow the land moisture state in one region
to affect atmospheric conditions in another. Such remote impacts
are examined in the context of AGCM simulations, leading to the
identification of one potential mechanism: the phase-locking and
amplification of a planetary wave through the imposition of a spatial pattern of soil moisture at the land surface. This mechanism,
shown in this study to be relevant in the AGCM, apparently also
operates in nature, as indicated by supporting evidence found in
reanalysis data.
Dr. Chang’s future work will focus on using GEOS-5 GCM-simulated, MERRA, NEWS and other data sets to quantify the mechanisms that link the upper level circulation to changes in surface
meteorology. A key aspect of this is to focus on the weather
transients and their role in the development of the sub-seasonal
climate extremes.
Dr. Gabrielle De Lannoy (sponsor: R. Reichle) works on the
development of the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Level
4 soil moisture (L4_SM) data product. In preparation for the assimilation of SMAP observations, satellite observations from the
Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission are used to build
a prototype system for the L4_SM product. This past year, she
co-authored invited presentations (IGARSS, WMO, AGU, AMS), and
participated in SMAP-related telecons/meetings. She contributed
to seven published papers and four submitted papers. Additionally, she was awarded a new project (THP10) on simultaneous
GRACE and SMOS data assimilation and hired Dr. Girotto as part
of the team (see following report). She will be assisting Dr. Girotto
on a new project for GRACE/SMOS data assimilation.
Dr. De Lannoy implemented new global soil texture information
and new soil parameters in the Catchment land surface model to
improve soil moisture simulations for the SMAP Level 4 product.
A related paper is in review for JAMES. She is also working on a
book chapter about soil moisture data assimilation. Work related
to radiative transfer model parameter estimation using SMOSdata and on uncertainty estimation using a Markov Chain Monte
Carlo method resulted in two published papers. Dr. De Lannoy
also has continued work on optimizing the global SMOS brightness temperature assimilation and contributes to the SMAP Level
4 assimilation system.
Dr. Gabrielle De Lannoy and Dr. Manuela Girotto (sponsor: R.
Reichle) work on assimilating satellite observations from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and Soil Moisture
Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission into GMAO’s land surface data assimilation system. The goal is to assimilate both vertically integrated terrestrial water storage (GRACE) and brightness temperature
to improve surface and root zone soil moisture. Dr. Girotto joined
GESTAR in January 2014 and leads the NASA-ROSES (THP10)
funded research awarded to Dr. De Lannoy (PI), and Drs. Reichle
and Rodell. Dr. De Lannoy has worked with Dr. Girotto to read
and scale newly released gridded GRACE data into the GMAO’s
land data assimilation system, and they performed an initial
comparison of GRACE data with model simulations. Dr. Girotto
was involved in supporting test simulations, led by Dr. De Lannoy,
to study the effect on terrestrial water storage and temperature
variables. These simulations involved new soil parameter sets
and source code changes in the Catchment land surface model
and were conducted to prepare the system for operational SMAP
data assimilation. In the coming months, the uncertainties in
GRACE and SMOS observations will be determined through triple
collocation. The research team will contribute to (invited) conference presentations and submit a paper about the assimilation of
gridded GRACE terrestrial water storage anomalies.
Dr. Clara Draper (sponsor: R. Reichle) works on the development and implementation of land data assimilation components,
in particular, the use of satellite observations of soil moisture,
snow, and land surface temperature. Dr. Draper has coupled
the GMAO Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS) to the GEOS-5
atmospheric modeling and assimilation system, creating the Land
and Atmosphere Data Assimilation System (LA-DAS) which, for the
first time, allows land surface observations to be assimilated into
the GEOS-5 atmospheric system. Dr. Draper also has refined the
assimilation of remotely sensed land surface skin temperature
(LST) from geostationary satellites, improving the bias removal,
data processing, and quality control procedures, and has conducted experiments assimilating LST observations using both
the offline LDAS and full GEOS-5 LA-DAS. She has published four
peer-reviewed journal articles, one as first author, and three as a
co-author, with one additional first author paper currently under
review. She has presented two seminars, and given five first-author conferences presentations, two of which were invited.
With the offline LDAS, Dr. Draper performed global experiments
assimilating geostationary LST observations, and evaluated the
assimilation of geostationary LST observations from the GOESEast and GOES-West satellites over the Americas. Compared to independent remotely sensed and in situ LST observations, the assimilation improved the model LST dynamics over short (synoptic)
time scales. Subsequently, using the LA-DAS, she assimilated the
GOES-East and GOES-West LST observations into the GEOS-5 atmospheric assimilation system, to test the impact on atmospheric
forecasts and data assimilation. Compared to past experiments,
assimilating the LST observations into the LA-DAS resulted in
a longer model memory of the LST assimilation updates and a
greater net impact on land surface flux forecasts than assimilating the LST observations into the offline LDAS. The LA-DAS experiments also confirmed the expectation that LST assimilation can
be used to constrain low-level atmospheric temperature forecasts.
To date, Dr. Draper’s LST assimilation experiments have been
designed to correct only short-lived model LST errors; however, by
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 15
using the assimilation to correct for long- term LST model biases,
a much greater impact could be obtained. Since this approach
is not yet possible, due to considerable biases in the remotely
sensed LST observations, she is now working on a method to bias
correct the geostationary LST observations using 2m air temperature observations. She also be using the coupled LA-DAS system
to test the impact of assimilating one year of remotely sensed
near-surface soil moisture on atmospheric forecasts. While nearsurface soil moisture assimilation has received much attention,
these observations have yet to be assimilated into an atmospheric system using a state-of-the-art land data assimilation and
observation bias correction method, such as those available in
Dr. Ron Errico (sponsor: R. Gelaro) works on continuing the
development and application of an Observing System Simulation
Experiment (OSSE) framework at NASA’s GMAO. Software for simulating observations have been made more modular and tools for
tuning of simulated observation error statistics have been made
more automated. Validation results using a variety of metrics have
been reported in peer-reviewed journals. Development will continue in the coming year of software for simulating observations
from the new GMAO very-high resolution nature run intended for
OSSEs. This data set is provided for more than a hundred fields,
every 30 minutes for 2 years on a 5760x2881x72 global grid;
such a massive amount of data requires a new structuring of the
OSSE observation simulation software.
It has been proposed to launch a constellation of 18 CubeSat microwave scanning radiometers. The GMAO OSSE and GDAS-5 data
assimilation systems were adapted to create simulated Micromas
observations and their assimilation. Two competing channel-set
configurations were examined. Both produced similar benefits to
short-term forecast skill that were significant; thus, the cheaper
channel configuration should be employed.
The “NMC method” has been used to generate estimates of background error statistics since variational data assimilation was first
introduced. It begins by examining the differences between 48and 24-hour forecasts valid at the same time. Here, covariances
of those differences were compared with true background errors
determined within an OSSE context. Comparisons showed that
not only variances but also correlation lengths differed considerably. Results suggested that the OSSE itself can provide a better
estimate of the true required statistics.
Software has been developed to estimate cloud effects on counts
of quality-controlled simulated observations for OSSEs. Observation counts for channels of IR radiances are greatly affected by
cloud distributions. In the GMAO OSSE, whether a cloud affects an
observation is specified stochastically based on conditional probability distributions and cloud fractions with selected pressure
ranges. Previously, the resulting cloud-free observation counts
could only be determined by applying the quality control algorithm
within the GMAO data assimilation system. Now, earlier guidance
16 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
is provided by software that estimates counts simply given the
specified parameters for the conditional probability distributions
and histograms of the cloud fraction distributions.
Dr. Daniel Holdaway (sponsor: R. Gelaro) develops the tangent
linear and adjoint components of GEOS-5 for use in the data assimilation tools used by the GMAO. Over the past year, he has developed a linearized prognostic cloud scheme. The first version of
the linearized moist physics included convection and large scale
condensation but not a sophisticated linear cloud model; instead,
all super-saturation was assumed to be instantaneously removed
through precipitation to the surface. In order to fully utilize
observations of clouds and precipitation, such as those from the
new GPM satellite, a representation of clouds was required in the
linear model. The ultimate goal is to employ a 4DVAR technique
to the assimilation; at present, he is using 3DVAR, with one time
step of 4DVAR for the cloud assimilation. In both cases a linear
cloud model will be required. The cloud scheme used in GEOS-5
suffers from strong non-linearity and instability when linearized. In
order to develop a working linear version, very careful analysis of
the nonlinear scheme is required. From examining the scheme, a
filtering was developed that determines when problems are likely
to occur. With minor simplifications to the model, and implementation of the filtering technique, a prognostic linear cloud scheme
that performs well has been implemented.
This scheme has been extensively tested by comparing the tangent linear model with the nonlinear model. Two nonlinear model
runs were generated, one with an analysis increment added as
a perturbation at the initial time and one with no perturbation.
The same perturbation is also used to initialize the tangent linear
model. The growth of the perturbation is measured by comparing the difference between the two nonlinear runs over a 24-hour
period with the tangent linear run over the same period. Dr.
Holdaway analyzed the performance of the linear model by looking at both the correlation and the root mean squared difference
between the fields. Both the tangent linear and adjoint versions
of the cloud scheme have been developed, and he used a dot
product test to ensure both are free of errors. The adjoint model
was then used in a series of observation impact experiments to
ensure that sensible impacts are obtained. The linearized prognostic cloud scheme has been included in the latest release of
the GEOS-5 data assimilation capable model, and this version is
now being used to develop the cloudy assimilation system. Early
results are very promising. Work will continue with updating the
linearized physics schemes; as the nonlinear model is developed,
changes occur in the nonlinear physics schemes. To keep the
linear model well synced requires continuous development.
When the linear version of GEOS-5 was first developed, only a
rather simple planetary boundary scheme was implemented, with
the aim of keeping the model stable. A new linear boundary layer
scheme based on the boundary layer scheme in the nonlinear
model has been developed and implemented. Close to the surface, this offers large improvement to the linear model. Month-
to the convection scheme to model scavenging, the dynamics tracers and by bringing in
all the sources, Dr. Holdaway and colleagues
should be able to examine sensitivity to aerosols in the atmosphere using the linear model
(i.e., the role that dust plays in the formation
of hurricanes).
When adjoint-based observation impacts are
computed, they rely on two integrations of
the nonlinear model. Two adjoint integrations
are also computed, along each nonlinear
reference state. Then, a sum of the resulting
sensitivities is used in the impact calculation.
Rather than integrating the adjoint twice,
along the two nonlinear reference states, it
can be integrated once, along an average
of the two, a method known as Gaussian
quadrature. In addition to providing improved
efficiency, this also can improve the accuracy
Figure: Correlation is shown against height for the perturbation fields after 12
of the linear solution by reducing noise in the
hours, for the tropics (23S-23N). From left to right, the plots show u wind, v wind,
reference trajectory, which may be particularly
temperature, specific humidity, cloud liquid water and cloud liquid ice. Blue = the
useful for making longer integrations of the
correlation when not using the moist physics; Red = the correlation when using the
linear model. Working along with two GMAO
moist physics. It is clear the correlation increases for all fields when using the moist
colleagues, Dr. Holdaway performed several
physics, showing the improvement in the linear model. (Credit: D. Holdaway)
experiments, combining the use of quadrature, different physics in the linear model, and
24-, 48- and 72-hour integrations. When the
long averages of correlation between the linear and nonlinear
is extended out to 72 hours the linearity
perturbation trajectory show improvement of up to 20% below
less valid and the performance of the
500hPa in 24 forecasts, a far more accurate description of senlinear
moist physics, is reduced. Due to
sitivity in the boundary layer region and reflected in the observathese
will be implementing the Gaussian
tion impacts. The boundary layer acts to transport moisture from
observation impacts. Extending the
the surface and thus affects the development of clouds. Proper
integration would be beneficial
representation of this process in the linear model improves the
entering the calculation. Discusrepresentation of cloud perturbations and sensitivity; in turn, this
implementation of this in the
improves the assimilation of cloudy observations.
next release of the operational model.
The radiation schemes in GEOS-5 are important in representing
The adjoint model is very useful for examining atmospheric
the feedback between clouds and aerosols with atmosphere. As
sensitivity since it can be used to find what variable in the initial
clouds form, heating and cooling of the atmosphere can occur
conditions a specific event was most sensitive to, and it provides
through reflection and absorption of longwave and shortwave
sensitivity structures, thus providing an optimal perturbation that
radiation. Linear versions of both the infrared and solar radiation
schemes have been developed and implemented in GEOS-5. Test- could be applied to the initial conditions to reduce or exasperate
the event. Dr. Holdaway is examining the sensitivity structures
ed with both dry and moist physics configurations, the schemes
for three atmospheric events, with Hurricane Sandy being first.
performed well. With the moist physics schemes, the boundary
The adjoint model may quantitatively reveal the structures that
layer scheme and the gravity wave scheme, an almost complete
were present that caused the hurricane to turn. A difficultly in
description of the physics is now enabled in the linear model.
Testing is currently underway to analyze the coupling between the using the adjoint is in picking a metric with which to initialize the
model. Common choices are energy around the center of the
linear radiation and cloud schemes to determine whether filterstorm or vorticity at the storm’s center. However, these kinds of
ing within the moist physics needs to be refined once coupled to
metrics generally reveal more about what the storm’s intensity is
the radiation. Additionally, the implementation of the radiation
sensitive to, rather than its track. These sensitivity studies will
schemes provides a representation of an important mechanism
continue into the next year.
by which dust and other aerosols interact with the atmosphere in
the linear model. By using these schemes, making improvements
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 17
Dr. Jianjun Jin (sponsor: R. Gelaro) conducts radiance data assimilation using GEOS-5 atmospheric data assimilation system
(ADAS) in order to improve GEOS-5 precipitation and cloud
analyses, and develops and improves procedures and algorithms
of assimilating microwave radiance observations made by the
satellite instrument TRMM/TMI and the new instrument GPM/
GMI. Dr. Jin has continued to develop and evaluate the algorithm
of assimilating TMI radiance data in cloudy situations with GEOS5 ADAS. Most weather satellites observe the Earth surface and
atmosphere by measuring microwave radiance of the surface
and the atmosphere. Due to difficulties and large uncertainties
in simulating these radiance observations in cloudy conditions,
the current GEOS-5 ADAS only assimilates these radiances under
clear sky conditions. In order to make good use of the vast satellite observations, an all-sky data assimilation scheme is being
developed for assimilating TRMM/TMI radiance observations. TMI
observation error is being tuned and the impact of these observations on analyses is being investigated. In the coming year, Dr.
Jin will continue his efforts with developing and evaluating all-sky
microwave radiance data assimilation. All-sky radiance data is at
the forefront of data assimilation and will significantly improve
the application of vast satellite observations and improve the
models’ analyses fields such as moisture and precipitation, and
will eventually improve the numerical weather forecast model’s
forecast skill.
Launched on February 27, 2014, NASA’s new satellite project
Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory mission
(GPM) is going to make global rain and snow observations, to
improve our knowledge of Earth’s water and energy circle, to
help improve weather forecasts of extreme precipitation events,
and therefore reduce the costs of natural disasters. One of the
two core instruments aboard this satellite is the GPM microwave
imager (GMI), which measures Earth’s surface and atmosphere
with high spatial resolution in 13 microwave channels. In order to
facilitate the application of GMI observations, Dr. Jin developed
the software to excise the proxy observation in collaboration with
NOAA. After the first GPM/GMI observations were provided in late
March, Dr. Jin was able to quickly and successfully assimilate
these observations. He will continue to assess the new GPM/GMI
data quality, in addition to pursuing his efforts on assimilating TMI
observations. Observations made from these two satellite instruments will be applied in the operational GEOS-5 data assimilation
system in the coming year.
A lead author paper by Dr. Jin was published in the Journal of
Geophysical Research – Atmospheres that details a new coordinate named Tropopause- Latitude coordinate (TpLat) that he and
his collaborators creatively developed. Based on varying extratropical tropopause (ExTP) locations, this new coordinate enables
users to precisely analyze chemical and dynamical features at
locations of the ExTP and stratosphere-troposphere exchange
processes (STE) at these locations using satellite observations
and GEOS-5 simulations. Since the STE processes transport
18 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
ozone from the middle atmosphere to the lower atmosphere, the
identification of such strong STE regions made in this study provides guidelines for future studies on tropospheric air quality. In
addition, the method and results in this study are very useful for
diagnosing and evaluating the capabilities of chemistry-climate
Dr. Min-Jeong Kim (sponsor: R. Gelaro) develops and tests cloud
and precipitation affected microwave radiance data assimilation
system at the GMAO. This involves building various components
such as observation operators, quality controls, moisture control
variables, observation errors, and background errors for all-sky
(i.e. clear, cloudy, and precipitating sky) satellite microwave
radiance data in the GEOS-5 data assimilation system, and
conducting diagnostic studies to evaluate and improve those new
components through OSSEs. This work will be expanded to utilize
GPM microwave radiance data and to potentially generate GPM
Level-4 cloud and precipitation products. The GMAO is currently
working on producing high spatial (7km) and temporal (30min)
resolution nature run using GEOS-5 system. In the coming year,
GMI data will be simulated with this new nature run with modelled
observation errors included. These simulated GMI observations
will be utilized in OSSE to refine the methodologies to assimilate
real GMI data in GMAO data assimilation system.
Two different choices of moisture control variables were added
into the GEOS-5/GSI. Background error covariance for each
choice of moisture control variable was made using NMC method.
The quality control process was relaxed to include all-sky AMSUA radiance data over the ocean. Observation errors for each
AMSU-A channel were defined as a function of cloud liquid water
path. Analysis results from these initial setup showed that using
ql/qi as two separate moisture control variables generates and
removes clouds more actively and that the location of liquid and
ice cloud changes made more sense than when using cw(=ql+qi)
as a single moisture control variable.
In close collaboration with Dr. Ron Errico, good progress was
made in using the GMAO OSSE to investigate the cloudy microwave radiance data assimilation system. They made simulations
of cloudy and clear sky AMSU-A observations using ECMWF
nature run, and added errors to those simulations through iterative error-tuning processes, comparing with innovation statistics
from real data. Software to monitor behavior of total biases in the
OSSE system has been developed. Future plans include the evaluation and further improvements to newly developed components
by implementing forecast impact studies in addition to the OSSE
experiments. In collaboration with Drs. Ron Errico and Nikki Privé,
cloudy radiance data assimilation components will be applied and
examined initially with AMSU-A data in GMAO OSSE system.
Currently, data from AMSU-A surface channels (channels 1, 2,
and 3) are not utilized in GMAO data assimilation system. To identify impacts of cloudy AMSU-A radiance data in the future, Dr. Kim
ran and examined the GEOS-5 forecast experiments after adding
clear-sky radiance data from these AMSU-A surface channels.
Results showed that adding data from clear-sky AMSU-A surface
channels did not significantly impact the analyses and forecasts.
Dr. Kim and GMAO colleagues have been working to assimilate
GMI data at the GMAO. To prepare for this simulation and GPM
Level-4 Precipitation data product, she set up the Goddard Satellite Data Simulation Unit (GSDSU) system and modified it to be
able to simulate GMI data using GEOS-5 forecasts. Additionally,
she has been working to expand all-sky microwave radiance data
assimilation components in GMAO ADAS to assimilate GMI data.
In the coming year, observation error model and quality control
process for all-sky microwave radiance data assimilation will be
refined. To include microwave observations in precipitating region,
including background rain and snow profiles in the observation
operator will be tested.
Dr. Young-Kwon Lim (sponsor: S. Schubert) supports research
on climate variability and weather extremes using modeling and
assimilation tools developed by the GMAO. Dr. Lim has investigated the sensitivity of tropical cyclone frequency and intensity to
the change in cumulus convective activity to improve the GEOS-5
model’s ability to simulate tropical cyclones. He found that the
tropical cyclone numbers and intensity over the Atlantic increases
along with the increase in the minimum threshold of cumulus entrainment rate in the model. He explored the atmosphere-ocean
processes that can explain the model’s sensitivity to the change
in cumulus entrainment, and identified that atmosphere can be
more unstable when the parameterized convection is suppressed
(i.e., increase in minimum threshold of entrainment rate). The
vertical profile of moist static energy and equivalent potential
temperature over the storm genesis region accounts for this unstable atmosphere, especially over lower troposphere; thus, latent
heat flux and humidity changes at lower atmosphere contribute
to the development of moist instability, providing more favorable
conditions for tropical cyclone genesis. Dr. Lim determined that
the resolved-scale moist convection is more likely to occur with
suppression of the parameterized convection. He presented this
work at the US CLIVAR Hurricane working group meeting and has
submitted a paper to a peer-reviewed journal. Going forward, he
will assess improvements in predicting tropical cyclone activity
with the latest version of GEOS5 model. This assessment will be
conducted in consideration of tropical cyclone number, intensity,
duration time, and spatial structure of strong hurricane, and will
provide a better idea of how the GEOS5 high-resolution model has
improved the simulation of tropical cyclone activity.
Dr. Lim conducts replay runs, each allowing for constraining various components of the model’s large-scale atmosphere to remain
close to the observed (MERRA) fields. Experiments conducted
constrain selected scales of motion (e.g., retain only the largest
planetary waves), and selected quantities (e.g., winds, humidity). In these experiments, the model-generated synoptic and
smaller scale variability over the regions of interest have no direct
constraints, allowing for quantitative assessments of the controls
on tropical storm activity imparted by the large-scale fields. By
carrying out these ensembles, Dr. Lim tries to assess the potential predictability of the Atlantic tropical cyclone provided by such
Despite being recognized as one of the leading teleconnections
over the North Atlantic, the East Atlantic/West Russia (EA/WR),
which is characterized by two main large-scale anomalies located
over the Caspian Sea and Western Europe, has not attracted any
significant and detailed investigation. Dr. Lim quantified climate
impact of the EA/WR on temperature and precipitation over North
America, Europe and northern Africa, and investigated physical mechanisms responsible for the existence of EA/WR. These
investigations by observational data analysis and stationary wave
model simulation concluded that the EA/WR triggers anomalous
temperature and precipitation in regional scale across the analysis domain and is closely associated with Rossby wave propagation. A stationary wave model (SWM) forced with vorticity transients in the mid-latitude Atlantic (~40°N) or diabatic heat source
over the subtropical Atlantic near the Caribbean Sea produces
well-organized EA/WR-like wave patterns, respectively. Sensitivity tests with the SWM indicate improvement in the simulation of
the EA/WR when the mean state is modified to have a positive
NAO component that enhances upper-level westerlies between
40-60°N. Dr. Lim completed writing a paper and submitted it to
Climate Dynamics. Additionally, he attempted to quantitatively estimate the impact of European teleconnections on the interannual
variation of East Asian winter temperature and monsoon. When
he compared their impact with the impact of well-known teleconnections such as the Arctic Oscillation, the Western Pacific and
ENSO, he found that EA/WR teleconnection plays a very important
role in determining the East Asian winter climate and that EA/
WR tends to better represent the interannual variability of winter
monsoon, cold surge and Siberian high than AO.
Dr. Lim has collaborated with the US CLIVAR hurricane working
group members to finalize works on climate models’ capability
in reliably simulating various tropical cyclone characteristics. He
also conducted this study focusing on models’ reproduction of
tropical cyclone statistics with respect to ENSO phases: Eastern
Pacific El Niño, Central Pacific El Niño, and La Niña. Dr. Lim has
co-authored three papers on this work submitted to the Journal of
Dr. Erica McGrath-Spangler (sponsor: S. Pawson) uses spacebased observations and earth system models (and their components) to further the understanding of the carbon cycle. She
assesses the value of current and future carbon observing instruments (e.g., AIRS, OCO-2) for policy-relevant science questions
and contributes to defining science specifications for planned
missions (e.g., OCO-3, ASCENDS). Throughout the past year, Dr.
McGrath-Spangler has been studying the impact of PBL depth
definition on tracer transport and model climate through sevGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 19
eral experiments. The first is an ensemble of 10 GEOS-5 AGCM
simulations for each of three PBL depth estimation methods for a
total of 30 model simulations. These ensembles are being used
to estimate the sensitivity of the model to the turbulent length
scale (which is dependent on the PBL depth). Variations in the
model climate and tracer (such as dust, CO2, etc.) concentrations are being studied. The two other experiments are long-term
climatological runs of the model using (1) the bulk Richardson
number based definition of PBL depth and (2) the bulk Richardson number based definition over land only and a definition using
the turbulent eddy diffusion coefficient with a 10% of the column
maximum threshold over water. The goal of these runs is to
evaluate the sensitivity of the model climate to PBL depth. If the
simulated climate is improved in comparison to observations, the
default behavior of the model may be changed. A draft manuscript evaluating the impact of PBL depth on tracer transport in
the GEOS-5 AGCM is in progress.
During the last year, Dr. McGrath-Spangler gave several presentations related to her work with the GMAO and the use of the GEOS5 AGCM, including her presentation in March 2014 at the GMAO
Constituent Assimilation Meeting. She co-authored a published
paper, and was a co-investigator on three submitted proposals.
Future work will involve the analysis of the long-term climatological GEOS-5 AGCM simulations in order to evaluate the feasibility
of changing the default behavior of the model. Dr. McGrath-Spangler also plans to evaluate the MERRA data for a long-term trend
in PBL depth consistent with the trend seen by estimating this
depth from radiosonde profiles. These evaluations will be done
over the Northern Hemisphere land, where the impact of satellite
observational changes is minimized.
Dr. Peter Norris (sponsor: A. da Silva) uses retrieved cloud data
to validate cloud properties within the Goddard Earth Observing
System (GEOS) model, to measure the capability of trial cloud
representations, and to assimilate cloud measurements directly
into the GEOS data assimilation system. Dr. Norris worked with
Drs. Arlindo da Silva and Ben Auer of GMAO to test and further
develop a GEOS-5 Radiation Application tool written by da Silva
and Auer. The tool is used to drive the GEOS-5 radiation Grid
Component using external data imports, so that GEOS-5 radiation
can be run offline. He also wrote code to couple the output of the
new cloud data assimilation (CDA) system with the “RadApp” tool.
The goal is to look at the radiative improvements made by the
CDA system, and also to test potential improvements to the GEOS5 cloud scheme. A thorough description of the RadApp tool was
presented for the first time in a recent publication. The accuracy
of the tool has been carefully tested as part of the CDA radiative
validation study: a month-long comparison of pre- and post-CDA
outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) from GEOS-5 with CERES
(Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System) observations showed
very positive improvements by the CDA system, even without the
usual radiative tuning necessary in GEOS-5. The shortwave (SW)
20 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
validation is currently underway and is proving both challenging
and very rewarding. First, the use of the RadApp tool with SW
requires a careful understanding and treatment of the timing of
the full refresh and regular update phases of the GEOS-5 solar
radiation code in order to get the most accurate validation possible. Second, the SW validation has necessitated the implementation of the CDA study’s new statistical cloud overlap scheme
within GEOS-5’s RRTMG radiation code. This step also realizes a
long-term goal of beginning to incorporate the CDA system within
GEOS-5. The SW validation continues, but preliminary investigations have highlighted the need to more fully understand and
accommodate details of the MODIS optical depth retrievals within
the CDA system. Thus, extensive and very useful work on the SW
validation of the CDA system has been conducted and continues.
Dr. Norris worked with Gala Wind and Drs. Arlindo da Silva and
Steven Platnick on a new high-fidelity MODIS cloud simulator,
including a detailed treatment of sub-grid-column moisture variability and cloud overlap. He helped to write, edit and submit a paper to Geoscientific Model Development that described that work;
he also provided extensive input to a response to reviews of the
paper and made significant additions to the revised manuscript,
which has since been published. He contributed a summary of
his 2008 copula work to an invited review article on the Goddard
Cumulus Ensemble model and its applications by Wei-Kuo Tao, et
al., which was published online this past March. Finally, Drs. Norris and da Silva recently submitted to the Quarterly Journal of the
Royal Meteorological Society a two-part paper that represents the
main thrust of their work on cloud data assimilation over the past
few years. Their CDA research was presented by Dr. Norris to a
Cloud-themed GMAO Science Theme Meeting in September 2013.
Drs. Norris and da Silva recently expanded the MODIS cloud
simulator code to provide the optical properties of aerosols, accounting for sub-grid scale humidification, in preparation for work
on aerosol retrieval with their collaborator, Gala Wind. Dr. Norris
also worked on and delivered a new driver tool for aerosol optical
properties that provides the full phase function for aerosol scattering, in addition to the aerosol optical thickness, single scattering albedo and asymmetry factor provided by the previous tool.
The tool is callable directly in FORTRAN for incorporation into the
MODIS radiative transfer codes used by Gala Wind.
Additionally, Dr. Norris performed a preliminary validation of the
top-of-atmosphere radiative fluxes and gross cloud properties
of GMAO’s new nature run against CERES products. Preliminary
results were presented in early April and work continues. The
work has helped to diagnose key interpretation issues for MODIS
optical thickness retrievals that feed back into the cloud data assimilation work.
Dr. Nikki Privé (sponsor: R. Gelaro) supports projects in atmospheric data assimilation, especially regarding the use of current
and future space-based observations. This includes diagnostic
studies to evaluate and improve the use of observational data
as well as running and interpreting observing system simulation experiments. The testing and interpretation phases require
applying theory and experience to explain sometimes unintuitive
responses to often complex algorithms. This past year, Dr. Privé
developed an «identical twin» framework for the GMAO OSSE in
order to study the role of model error in forecast error growth. An
identical twin OSSE is considered a «perfect model» scenario in
which there is no model error. By comparing the results of identical twin experiments with the full GMAO OSSE, the impacts of
model error can be determined. To create the identical twin OSSE,
the GEOS-5 forecast model was run without ingesting observations to generate a “free” run for two months. This free run was
treated as the Nature Run, or ‘truth’, used for verification of the
experimental forecasts and for generating synthetic observations. A complete set of simulated observations was created for
the identical twin OSSE, including appropriate observation errors.
The simulated observations were then ingested into the GEOS-5/
GSI forecast model to create numerical weather forecasts. It was
found that model error is a significant contributor to the evolution
of forecast skill. In cases with no model error, the forecast skill
showed an improvement in skill compared to cases with model
error equivalent to a decrease in a forecast lead time of two days
in the extratropics and four days in the tropics. The analysis error
is greatly decreased in the identical twin experiments compared
to cases that include model error, even when observation errors
of similar magnitude are included in the simulated data. The
results of this experiment have been published in the Journal of
Geophysical Research.
Dr. Privé also performed an OSSE experiment to investigate the
impact of including supplemental rawinsonde observations at
0600 and 1800 UTC. In regular operations, the vast majority of
rawinsondes are launched only at 0000 and 1200 UTC, but supplemental rawinsondes are sometimes added in order to improve
the forecast in high-impact synoptic situations, such as severe
weather outbreaks or land-falling hurricanes (such as Hurricane
Sandy). By adding supplemental rawinsondes, the short-term
forecast was improved not just for the 0600 and 1800 UTC cycle
time forecasts, but also for the 0000 and 1200 UTC cycle time
forecasts, due to the improved quality of the model background
field. A manuscript describing these results is currently in press
with Monthly Weather Review.
Another OSSE experiment was performed to investigate the
spectra of forecast error growth in numerical weather prediction.
The spectra of error growth in the real world are very difficult
to analyze during the early forecast period because there is no
suitable field for verification, but these spectra can be calculated
directly in the OSSE. The error spectra for two-week forecasts
were calculated in a series of test cases. The results of these
experiments are currently under review and will be the subject of
a future publication.
The GMAO OSSE has been updated to a more recent version of
the GEOS-5 forecast model in order to allow the use of newer data
types such as GPS-RO and to eliminate some deficient aspects of
the older model versions. The OSSE will be validated against statistics of the data assimilation of real observation and of forecast
skill. A control case will be run for validation of forecast skill and
to act as a baseline case for further OSSE studies.
Dr. Oreste Reale (sponsor: S. Schubert) supports scientific
research on climate variability and tropical storms using highresolution versions of the GEOS-5 atmospheric model developed
by the GMAO. In particular, he evaluates the sensitivity of the
representation of tropical storms in GEOS-5 to model resolution.
Over the past year, Dr. Reale has contributed to the evaluation of
several experiments performed by Dr. Young-Kwon Lim and has
co-authored an article with Dr. Lim (first author), Dr. Schubert, and
other GMAO scientists, to explore the sensitivity of hurricane activity to changes in the convective parametrizations.
He also has been involved in the evaluation of several long-term
simulations, “Nature Runs”, of the Earth Atmosphere, designed
for possible use in Observing System Simulation Experiments
(OSSEs) and produced by Dr. Putman (GMAO) with the experimental ultra-high resolution cubed-sphere GEOS model in a variety of
different configurations. Among all of the possible simulations,
one produced by the c1440 version of the cubed-sphere GEOS-5,
at a resolution of about 7 km, and in a fully non-hydrostatic mode,
was selected in 2014 by Dr. Putman and the GMAO to become
the next-generation GMAO Nature Run. Since then, Dr. Reale has
been extensively analyzing this run, in collaboration with GMAO
scientists, to assess the quality of simulated cyclones and more
generally investigate the realism of the tropical atmospheric
dynamics, and the tropical-extratropical interactions. Two related
presentations were delivered at GMAO Science Team meetings.
Further, Dr. Reale has co-authored (as second and corresponding author) an article which investigates in depth a less-known
6-9 day time scale in the African Easterly Waves, different from
the widely studied 3-6 day time scale. The article discusses the
structure of such waves and attributes to them an important role
in tropical-extratropical interactions.
Dr. Cecile Rousseaux (sponsor: W. Gregg) conducts research on
ocean phytoplankton populations using the GMAO NOBM. Last
fall, Dr. Rousseaux modified the GEOS5 NASA Ocean Biogeochemical Model (NOBM) so that it would also use variable atmospheric
forcing files. She learned to use Concurrent Versions System (CVS)
to create tags and manage code development, as well as importing/exporting new variables throughout the code. Learning CVS
also was necessary when supporting other GMAO team members,
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 21
including Christian Keppenne, for whom Dr. Rousseaux provided
the latest tags, new forcing files and data sets. She continues to
maintain all the forcing data and validation data to keep NOBM
up to date, which involves downloading, regridding and reformatting the data throughout the year. This included MODIS Aqua
(chlorophyll, particulate inorganic carbon and remote reflectance),
Suomi-NPP (chlorophyll and remote reflectance), and the forcing data necessary to run the NOBM (MERRA, ozone from OMI,
clouds and aerosols from Aqua and Terra). Dr. Rousseaux continues to collaborate with Michelle Gierach on their funded proposal
on the “Variation in phytoplankton composition associated with El
Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) diversity in the Equatorial Pacific
Ocean”. She has also begun working with Dr. Nowicki and others
on their funded proposal on “Feedbacks, Processes and Impacts
of Contemporary Changes in the Arctic”. Finally, she continues to
provide support to end-users who download and use data from
the Giovanni or the NASA GMAO ftp website. Going forward, Dr.
Rousseaux will continue to provide support in integrating the
NOBM in GEOS5, will update the forcing and assimilation data
required to run the NOBM and will provide support to end-users.
This past year, Dr. Rousseaux has been a lead author on one published paper, a co-author on two publications, and is a co-author
on one in progress. She is also the lead author of a report written
as a result of a 3-day meeting organized to identify potential areas of collaboration on the topic of carbon between JPL and NASA
GSFC with Deputy Director Piers Sellers. She participated in this
meeting that was supervised by Dr. Sellers and that was held in
order to establish the current state of knowledge and capabilities
and the potential benefits of a ‘Carbon Climate Program’. At Dr.
Sellers’ request, Dr. Rousseaux wrote this report on the state of
knowledge of carbon in the oceans for NASA HQ and collected the
reviews and input from her peers. She is also PI on one proposal,
and a Co-Investigator on three more, as well as a Co-I on an upcoming proposal.
Her research results were presented in several talks, locally,
nationally and internationally. She also chaired a session at the
Ocean Science Meeting 2014 (Honolulu, HI). She will be participating in the OCB workshop in July 2014 and will present a talk at
the Ocean Optics Conference in Maine in the fall.
Dr. Yury Vikhliaev (sponsor: B. Putman) continued working on the
development of the GEOS-5 Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model (AOGCM), a coupled climate model developed at the
NASA GMAO. Its main components are the atmospheric model,
the catchment land surface model, both developed by the GMAO,
and MOM4, the ocean model developed by the Geophysical Fluid
Dynamics Laboratory. In order to address model biases, 20 multidecadal and multi-century climate simulations were conducted
and analyzed. An atmospheric component of the coupled model
was updated to Ganymed-4 version. Despite many improvements in the new version of AOGCM, the update resulted in the
deterioration of some aspects of model climate, which included
22 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
an unrealistic warm bias in sea surface temperature (SST) and
unrealistic tropical climate produced by the model. The SST bias
was addressed by re-tuning the moist physics. It was found that
deterioration of tropical climate is due to increased error in cloud
radiative forcing (CRF) over subtropical oceans. This error is currently being addressed. He also prepared and tested a version of
AOGCM with non-Boussinesq ocean component. This configuration will be used in future data assimilation and forecast systems. In the coming year, model biases over subtropical oceans
and over ocean boundary currents will be addressed in order to
integrate the new version of the model into data assimilation and
forecast systems.
Dr. Vikhliaev analyzed a long-term climate drift in the GEOS-5
AOGCM, and found that this drift is consistent with the weak
Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). A sensitivity of AMOC to parameterization of river runoff, ocean lateral
diffusion, bottom drag and vertical mixing was analyzed in a set
of multi-century simulations. As a result of this effort, a model
configuration which produces a stable AMOC for several centuries
was prepared. A future collaboration with NOAA NCEP and the
Atmospheric Physics department at the University of Maryland
is planned for working on the GEOS-5 AOGCM configuration with
high resolution (0.25 degree) atmospheric and ocean components.
Dr. Brad Weir (sponsor: S. Pawson) assimilates atmospheric CO2
observations into the GEOS-5 DAS and participates in research
studies aimed at evaluating observations from AIRS, GOSAT, and
OCO-2 data using GEOS-5, and applies these toward understanding the carbon cycle. Dr. Weir has given two presentations, one in
California and one in The Netherlands on related work.
He continued the implementation of trace gas assimilation in
GEOS-5 to include observations of carbon monoxide and dioxide.
This included writing utility scripts that download and process
the level-2 carbon monoxide data from the Measurements of
Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument on NASA’s
Terra satellite and the carbon dioxide data from the Greenhouse
Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) processed as a function of the
Atmospheric CO2 Observations from Space (ACOS) task. He also
developed the procedures for the assimilation of general trace
gas observations in GEOS-5 and tuning the necessary error covariances. Future work will involve exploring the use of ensemble
methods to generate error covariance matrices in the trace gas
assimilation. Dr. Weir will have to investigate the variety of approaches, as each has its benefits and drawbacks. Determining
the most suitable will likely depend on the particular qualities of
the trace gas estimation problem.
Dr. Radina Soebiyanto (sponsor: R. Kiang) utilizes remote sensing technology to monitor, predict and facilitate the control of
infectious disease transmission. The objective is to develop empirical and theoretical models and techniques that can be used by
public health organizations for disease surveillance and control.
This past year, Dr. Soebiyanto has worked on assessing the role
of meteorological parameters in influenza activity in countries
with temperate, sub-tropical and tropical climate. Her studies
indicated that specific humidity was consistently associated with
influenza activity in all regions. In temperate countries, she found
an inverse relationship between influenza and specific humidity.
However, in the tropics and in a few coastal locations, specific
humidity was proportionally associated with influenza. She found
that temperature was an important determinant for influenza in
the temperate region, but not in the tropics and sub-tropics. She
has worked on three manuscripts on this topic; one is in press
while the others are in review and in preparation. In the coming
year, Dr. Soebiyanto will continue her influenza work. She plans
to develop decision tools that provide meteorological time series
that are associated with influenza and also provide projected influenza activity based on changes in the meteorological condition.
Dr. Sushel Unninayar (sponsor: S. Wharton) will continue to
provide scientific coordination/integration of the interagency USGCRP/CCSP Global Water Cycle Working Group and interlinks with
Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate Variability and Change, Land Use
and Land Surface Change, Ecosystems, Human contributions and
Decision Support Systems, among other national and international programs. He has focused on resolving current deficiencies in
observing and modeling systems with a priority on soil moisture,
evapotranspiration and ground water, in addition to precipitation,
among others.
He continued international coordination efforts to (a) develop
a framework for the IGWCO (and NASA) contributions to and
interaction with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) with a focus on “Hydroclimatic Change and Extremes,” and
(b) the downscaling of global observing systems data and global
climate change/variability model output for improved accuracy on
regional and local scales as an effort to support decision making
in water and other resource management applications. These
critically important aspects of global change are considered essential for improved assessments of the impacts of global climate
change on the regional terrestrial water cycle processes. They
would also lead to more precise information required for policy
guidance on adaptation/mitigation options. These activities are
expected to continue over the next decade. Collaborators with
NASA on this project include international and national organizations and agencies. Dr. Unninayar was invited again by the IPCC as an expert reviewer
for the IPCC-AR5 Science Assessment report to Governments. He
was also invited, in early 2013, as Coordinator of the GCRP/GWC,
member of the GEOSS/IGWCO, and expert on integrated assessments, to review Chapter 23 (Europe) of IPCC/WGII-AR5 (Impact,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability). This past year he continued as
lead author for several sections and chapters of the GEO/GEOSSIGWCO Water Strategy for the next decade titled “from Observations to Decisions”. Topics included: integration across the water
cycle and beyond; the role of research in integration; water cycle
data integration; water cycle model integration; representing the
water cycle in Community Earth System Models; land data assimilation systems; the impact of water cycle observational and
modeling error on end user applications, observations to support
climate change impact assessments and adaptation, among
others. The water strategy report was published in February 2014
following almost two years of drafting and reviewing, followed
by approval by the GEO plenary. Prior to the finalization of the
Water Strategy Report, Dr. Unninayar contributed substantially to
the finalization and drafting of the Summary Report of the Water
Strategy for submission to the GEOSS Ministerial Conference.
Dr. Unninayar submitted several actions for incorporation in the
Group on Earth Observations (GEO) 2012-2015 strategic work
plan. In late 2013 he was invited to be an expert reviewer for the
audio/video script being prepared by an international team in
Switzerland for submission to the GEO Ministerial Summit. The
audio-visual covered the global water cycle with depictions of live
imagery from the International Space Station, followed by more
regionally focused land surface satellite imagery, plus depictions
of the water cycle from the surface. Coverage was globally comprehensive from the mountains of the Himalayas to the clouds
over Lake Geneva. In March 2014, he was invited to submit a
white paper to a meeting of the GEOSS URR (User Requirements
Registry) in Geneva, Switzerland. His contribution included the
definition and specification of Essential Water Variables (EWVs),
the consolidation of water cycle observational and modeling
requirements of user needs covering over 75 user sectors, and
assessment of data assimilation and modeling requirements.
In March-April 2014, Dr. Unninayar developed a comprehensive conceptual framework for advancing the end objectives of
the GCRP as well as the UN/IPCC and particularly the GEO and
GEOSS titled “Enhanced Decision Making Using “Cloud-Based”
Observations, Models, and Analytical Tools” [Initial Priority on
Essential Water Cycle Variables]. An initial emphasis was suggested on Essential Water cycle Variables, though the principle
would apply to all GEOSS observations. The basic proposition
is to examine how to address the missing linkages between the
statement “observations are useful for......,” and the end point,
such as specific research and applications and end user decisionmaking products, i.e., the construct of a potential GEOSS-AI
system that contains the elements necessary to deliver the end
product application. The user specifies what they need as an end
product and the “system” formulates the rest, and suggests how
to construct their application with the modules within the system
(of systems). To meet this design consideration, all modules
would need to be placed on a “cloud-based” infrastructure in a
standardized and inter-compatible format, and maintained jointly
by collaborating parties. Work will continue on developing a conGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 23
ceptual framework for implementation into a GEO-AI system with
the structural framework to facilitate “Enhanced Decision Making
Using “Cloud-Based” Observations, Models, and Analytical Tools”
with the initial priority on essential water cycle variables. Plans
include initiating discussion and collaboration for the design of
the components required for an early demonstration prototype for
such a system.
Dr. Jiun-Dar Chern (sponsor: W.-K. Tao) works on developing a
Multiscale Modeling Framework (MMF) based on NASA’s stateof-art global atmospheric models (i.e., GEOS4 and GEOS5) and
cloud-resolving model (i.e., GCE). The idea is to use the cloudresolving model in each column of a general circulation model to
explicitly represent cloud-scale processes. Another goal is to use
NASA satellite products to improve cloud microphysical schemes
in the cloud-resolving model. A MMF model uses a two-dimensional cloud-resolving model (CRM) in each grid column of a general circulation model (GCM) to represent cloud and mesoscale
dynamics and physical processes in place of cloud parameterizations in a convection GCM. The MMF approach shows the ability
to simulate the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the diurnal cycle
of precipitation, and other phenomena that have presented challenges for convectional GCMs. The performance of a MMF highly
depends on how the parameterizations of microphysics, radiation,
and turbulence operate on the CRM’s grid. In Dr. Chern’s study, a
new Goddard four-ice (cloud ice, snow, graupel, hail) one-moment
bulk microphysical scheme has been successfully developed and
implemented into the Goddard MMF to account for hail habit and
its interactions with other hydrometeors. More than 20 two-year
MMF experiments were conducted to evaluate the role of each
new processes and the overall performance of this new scheme.
The performance of the MMF was evaluated against CloudSat/
CALIPSO cloud ice data set and TRMM precipitation and radar
reflectivity data set; the MMF with the new Goddard 4-ice scheme
outperforms the one with the Goddard 3-ice one-moment bulk
Dr. Chern worked on preparing the MMF data set for the GPM Retrieval Algorithm Development Teams. With global coverage, the
MMF can provide detailed cloud properties such as cloud amount,
hydrometeor types, and vertical profile of water contents at high
spatial and temporal resolution of a cloud-resolving model. When
coupled with the Goddard Satellite Data Simulation Unit (GSDSU),
a system with multi-satellite, multi-sensor and multi-spectrum
satellite simulators, the MMF system can provide radiances and
backscattering similar to what satellite directly observed. From a
study conducted over the past year, a simulation provided more
than 300 million vertical profiles of cloud data set in different season, geographic locations, and climate regimes. This cloud data
24 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
set is used to supplement observations over data-sparse areas
for supporting GPM algorithm development. When the model’s
simulated mean and variability of surface rainfall and snowfall,
cloud and precipitation types, cloud properties, radiances and
backscattering were evaluated against satellite observations, the
results of the new data set are much better in heavy precipitation
intensity, radar reflectivity, and brightness temperature than the
MMF data set provided to the GPM algorithm development teams
in 2012.
NASA’s latest reanalysis, the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis
for Research and Applications (MERRA), has shown significant
improvement over previous reanalyses and is equivalent in skill
to the ECMWF-Interim reanalysis in terms of global, continental
and basin scale climatological precipitation. However, details of
regional water cycles still exhibit biases that result from model
physics uncertainties interacting with an observation suite that
varies in space and time. This study uses MERRA moisture
budget, analysis increment and Gridded Innovations and Observations (GIO) data set to better understand the relative contribution of observing system on a unphysical positive moisture flux
divergence (MFD) over the Great Plains from 2001 to 2012. From
the time series and diurnal cycle of moisture budget and analysis increment, it is shown that the MFD feature is not persistent
throughout the period of the satellite era reanalyses, but has an
abrupt transition in around 2000. The sharp jump of water vapor
being added through the analysis at 06Z and 18Z is contributing
to the regional MFD bias. Dr. Chern will conduct further examination of the contribution of each observing systems’ effect on the
abrupt transition by using the MERRA GIO data set and sensitive
experiments of the data assimilation system.
Dr. Mei Han (sponsor: S. Braun) applies satellite-based observations from NASA satellites (TRMM, Aqua, and GPM) and numerical
models (MM5 and WRF) to study precipitation associated with
extratropical cyclones over ocean and land, and evaluates the
performances of cloud and precipitation models and retrieval
algorithms in the middle latitudes. Dr. Han conducted a study to
investigate the performance of a Spectral Bin Microphysics (SBM)
scheme, the Hebrew University Cloud Model for a heavy precipitation event during the Hydrometeorological Testbed (HMT) field
campaign. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)
model and the Goddard Satellite Data Simulator Unit (G-SDSU),
she assessed the model simulations as compared to Aqua satellite observations. The simulations with the HUCM scheme perform
well as compared to the passive microwave sensor (AMSR-E) for
the precipitation over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California;
however, a notable bias is in the magnitudes of the simulated
radar reflectivity as compared to ground-based S-band radar
observations. Several sensitivity simulations related to testing
the snowflake breakup coefficient and ice nuclei concentration
have been conducted. In the first sensitivity test, the breakup
process was employed to a wider range of particle size bins. As a
result, the spectrum of snowflake mass became more continuous.
Precipitation particle size distribution (PSD) of the snowflakes also
showed a shift toward smaller sizes. This change eventually resulted in an improvement of the simulated radar reflectivity. In the
second sensitivity test, high ice nuclei concentration contributed
to a slight increase in snow mass. However, it does not influence
the size spectrum of the snow particles. The increase of snow
mass was associated with a slight decrease of cloud water and
graupel; as a result, the simulated brightness temperature retains
a good agreement as compared to the AMSR-E observations. No
improvement of simulated radar signals was made. Dr. Han also
analyzed mass-weighted terminal velocities of different hydrometeors in SBM simulations and compared them to 4-bulk schemes.
SBM simulation generally has a broader range of terminal velocity
given the same amount of precipitation mass. A journal paper is
in preparation to report the scientific findings of this study. This
study was also presented at the AMS 15th Conference on Mesoscale Processes and at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting.
A new study of synoptic snow storms occurred on Feb 24, 2012
while the GPM Cold-season Precipitation Experiment (GCPEx) was
being carried out. In addition to the brief analyses of a wide variety of observational data obtained during the campaign, Dr. Han
chose to put emphasis on analyzing the NMQ (National Mosaic
and QPE) data provided by NOAA/NSSL for the current stage of
this study. The NMQ hourly precipitation rate and 3-dimensional
reflectivity mosaics clearly depicted the evolution and structure of
the storm. She also conducted multiple simulations with a new
version of the WRF model and the G-SDSU. The simulations with
a relatively confined coarse domain replicate well the general
synoptic to mesoscale characteristics of the storm. Evaluations
are being carried out to assess the dynamic and physical feature
of the storm.
Other research involves the examination of the spatial distribution of cloud and precipitation species and vertical air motion in
the WRF simulations of two events in different field campaigns.
Currently Dr. Han is investigating the radar signals simulated by
G-SDSU at different frequencies.
Dr. Hyokyung Kim (sponsor R. Meneghini) is involved in the
international satellite mission between US and Japan, the Global
Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), with regard to the
algorithm development of precipitation retrieval from the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) onboard the GPM core satellite.
She works with Dr. Meneghini, who is in charge of developing the
Surface Reference Technique (SRT) algorithm that estimates the
Path Integrated Attenuation (PIA) by precipitation in propagation
path from the satellite to the surface and provides true parameters related to the precipitation estimation as well as true PIAs to
aid the better understanding of algorithm performance.
When the launch date of the GPM satellite was fast approaching,
the algorithm development team integrated the algorithm codes
submitted by each developer, released the first algorithm codes at
launch version, and has continued distributing the modified codes
to improve retrieval algorithm. Dr. Kim tested and evaluated the
performance of the SRT algorithm to each version of algorithm
codes with simulated radar data using the WRF model during the
Mid-Latitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E),
2011 and the Light Precipitation Evaluation Experiment (LPVEx),
2010. When she investigated the behaviors of estimated PIAs
from the simulated test data for MC3E and LPVEx field campaign
by comparing them with the true PIAs, she found that the surface
return echo power at Ka-band used to drop below the noise power
due to the strong PIA under the heavy rainfall circumstance like
MC3E, known as the saturation effect. However, this saturation
effect didn’t appear at Ku-band because of its relatively lower
frequency than Ka-band. The break point for the saturation
depends on the surface type and the incidence angle: the more
the incidence angle increases, the more likely an occurrence at
the weaker PIA. SRT codes are being modified to distinguish the
failure of PIA estimation. Although surface data from multiple
range gates are usually available at off-nadir incidence angles,
the current version of SRT algorithm for PIA estimation used a
single gate, which has the peak surface return power among the
range gates. PIA estimation at a single gate might cause errors
under the non-uniform beam filling (NUBF) condition. To improve
estimates, Dr. Kim modified the radar simulator to create the
Level1 test data for a multi-beam solution in PIA estimation and
helped colleagues modify the SRT codes to implement the use of
multi-beams. Preliminary results showed some improvement on
precipitation retrieval over the standard SRT methods. With the
launch of the GPM core satellite, information of global precipitation will be provided in real-time. Dr. Kim and her colleagues will
evaluate the performance of the SRT method from the observed
DPR data and also contribute to improving the performance of PIA
estimation by implementing the multi-beam SRT method.
Dr. Xiaowen Li (sponsor: W.-K. Tao) uses the Goddard cloudresolving model and satellite plus field observations to study
clouds, precipitation processes and their roles in radiation and
climate. Over the past year, Dr. Li implemented and tested a new
microphysical scheme, the 2-moment Morrison Scheme, into the
Goddard Cumulus Ensemble (GCE) model. This is an important
step for the cloud modeling groups’ AIST proposal, and it expands
the research capability of GCE model. The new scheme has
been tested using the International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE)
case and shows good agreements with the existing microphysical schemes in GCE. Further, her studies include three cases of
aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions using both the 2D and 3D
spectral bin scheme in GCE model: the TWP-ICE field campaign,
the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) and the Preliminary
Regional Experiment for STORM-Centeral (PRESTORM). Dr. Li also
is part of a team studying the initiation of the Madden-Julian OscilGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 25
lation (MJO) during the DYNAMO field campaign using both GCE
model and Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) Model. The
emphasis is on the cloud structure evolution during the transition
period from shallow convection to deep convection. Research
results were shared at three meetings this past year.
She has worked closely with specialists at NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division to improve GCE model performances and
visualizations of model data. The spectral bin microphysics is now
running x10 faster as a result of reindexing the codes. Highlights
were presented at a conference. Other work involved Dr. Li’s
participation in the case study during the Midlatitude Continental
Convective Cloud Experiment (MC3E), a joint field experiment with
NASA GPM ground validation and DOE ASR program. The in-situ
measurements of ice particle spectra were compared with model
simulations for the trailing stratiform region. Results showed that
the model underestimates ice particle number concentrations. A
related paper is in progress.
Dr. Liang Liao (sponsor: R. Meneghini) conducts research on
a variety of topics associated with airborne and spaceborne
weather radar analysis generally and the TRMM Precipitation
Radar (PR) and GPM Dual-Wavelength Precipitation Radar (DPR)
specifically. The work includes single- and dual-wavelength radar
analysis of hydrometeor profiles, simulation of polarimetric radar
signatures in rain and snow, retrieval of the microphysical properties and characteristic parameters of drop size distribution using
data from dual-wavelength airborne weather radar, and the validation of the TRMM standard products using ground-based measurements. Over the past year, an effort has been made to test
and evaluate the results of currently developing dual-wavelength
precipitation radar (DPR) algorithms in estimates of surface rain
rate. A set of plotting routines have been developed enabling
effectively accessing the data and comparing them with truths.
Dr. Liao will continue to explore new fields that can improve and
enhance the GPM radar algorithms for detection and estimates of
precipitation rate.
Dr. Liao and colleagues developed a framework based on measured rain-drop size distribution (DSD) data to assess uncertainties in DSD models employed in Ku- and Ka-band dual-wavelength
radar retrievals. In this study, the rain rates and attenuation coefficients from DSD parameters derived by dual-wavelength algorithms are compared with those directly obtained from measured
DSD spectra. From their studies, they compared results that
showed that the retrieval errors from the mu-lambda relations are
generally small and comparable with the results from a fixed-mu
gamma model with mu equal to 3 and 6. The DSD evaluation
procedure is also applied to retrievals in which lognormal DSD
model is used.
Additionally, combining measurements of Doppler velocities and
Ku-band radar reflectivity from Ku- and Ka-band dual-wavelength
radar provides the potential to differentiate hydrometeor phases
26 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
within storms because of apparent differences in Doppler velocities between snow and rain. A theoretical model was used to compute radar reflectivity factors and Doppler velocities at Ku- and
Ka-band as well as their ratios, defined as differential frequency
ratio (DFR) and differential Doppler velocity. A Ku- and Ka-band
airborne Doppler radar, designed by NASA Goddard, was deployed
in MC3E field campaign, and its measurements were employed
for such studies. Preliminary results show promise in identifying
various phases of hydrometeors, although further detailed studies are needed to explore the full capability of dual-wavelength
radar in phase identification when the Doppler velocity is involved.
Dr. Jainn Jong (Roger) Shi (sponsor: W.-K. Tao) studies physical
and dynamical processes related to convective-to-regional-scale
precipitation systems. Dr. Shi has worked toward developing an
aerosol wet deposition/scavenging process in the newly developed aerosol-radiation-microphysics coupling code in the NASA
Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) Model.
Aerosols affect the Earth’s radiation balance directly and cloud
microphysical processes indirectly via the activation of cloud condensation and ice nuclei. These two effects have often been considered separately and independently, hence the need to assess
their combined impact given the differing nature of their effects
on convective clouds. To study both effects, an aerosol-microphysics-radiation coupling was implemented into the NU-WRF model.
Under this current research effort, a new aerosol wet deposition
scheme was developed and added into Goddard cloud microphysics scheme. The new scheme includes below-cloud wash out
and in-cloud scavenging through condensation nuclei activation.
For the wash out process, when the precipitation particles fall
through the atmosphere, they collide with aerosol particle, collect
some of them, and eventually bring the aerosol particles to the
ground (if the precipitation particles reach ground). For in-cloud
scavenging, each aerosol concentration is reduced when cloud
condensation and ice nuclei activation occurs, but partially regain
the loss when evaporation and sublimation occur. The effort also
includes adding aerosol coupling into the new Goddard 4ice cloud
microphysics scheme in the NU-WRF.
A series of NU-WRF simulations with aerosol coupling was conducted for interaction of biomass burning and monsoon water
cycle over southeast Asia. Results indicated that the increase of
aerosols due to biomass burning results in the increase of the
cold rain (snow, graupel and ice) above the melting level and the
decrease of small liquid particle (cloud) and increase of large
liquid particle (rain) below the melting level over southeast Asia.
However, over southeast China, the impact by the biomass burning aerosol on the small liquid particle (cloud, the dominating
cloud hydrometeor), which was reduced by about 50%, was more
profound. The model results were presented at the 2013 AGU Fall
Dr. Shi was one of many who conducted simulations of Hurricane
Sandy, a Category-3 hurricane that spanned the east coast of the
Simulations & Results for Hurricane Sandy (Oct 2012)
Hurricane Sandy, a late season Category-3 hurricane, began as a tropical low in the Caribbean Sea on Oct. 22, 2012. During
its life span, the system strengthened into a hurricane as it moved northeastward, parallel to the coast of the southeastern
United States. Turning northwestward on Oct 29th, it eventually made landfall near Brigantine, NJ 70-kt maximum sustained
winds. Because of its tremendous size and strong wind, Sandy drove a catastrophic storm surge into the New Jersey and New
York coastlines. Preliminary U.S. damage estimates are near $50 billion as reported by the National Hurricane Center. Most
of Dr. Roger Shi’s work was done on the ensemble WRF simulations of Hurricane Sandy (2012) using NU-WRF model with a
hypothesized future sea surface temperature (SST) due to the global warming. Ten NU-WRF simulations with a 10-km resolution
were begun between 00UTC Oct. 22 and 00UTC Oct. 23, 2012 and ended on 12UTC Oct 31, 2012, where five simulations used
the present-day SST and five used the aforementioned hypothesized future SST. Results show that the simulations with the
present-day SST made an excellent forecast on the landfall location that is almost identical to the observed location. However,
the simulated hurricane made the landfall about 12 hours earlier than the observed landfall time. Model results indicate that
the reason Sandy turned northwestward on Oct 29 was the blocking pattern over the North Atlantic and the upper level trough
just east of the Great Lakes. Results also show that the higher future SST would have a profound impact on the intensification
and tracking of Hurricane Sandy. The simulated hurricanes with the future SST tends to intensify into a gigantic Category-5 storm
and move east toward the Atlantic
Hurricane Sandy during its track
from the Bahamas until its landfall
in New Jersey. WRF max. DBz and
900mb wind vectors. (Credit: Roger
U.S. in October 2012. His studies and
results are described in more detail in the sidebar (above). Dr.
Shi continues to study dust/aerosol impact on hurricanes in the
Atlantic basin using the NU-WRF/WRF-Chem.
Dr. Jason Sippel (sponsor: S. Braun) conducts research to understand hurricane formation and evolution through ensemble
forecasts and data assimilation. Over the past year, most of his
research efforts have been geared toward utilizing an ensemble
Kalman filter (EnKF) with data gathered from NASA’s Global Hawk
to analyze the impact on hurricane analysis and forecasts. Most
of the effort has been focused on using observations from the
high-altitude imaging wind and rain airborne profiler (HIWRAP),
a new Doppler radar mounted upon the Global Hawk. The major
benefit of the Global Hawk system is a 25-30-h flight time, which
allows for much longer range and on-station capabilities than
conventional aircraft. The results from the previous year’s experiments with the HIWRAP data suggest that it can be useful for
hurricane analysis and forecasting. In particular, it will be more
useful to assimilate estimated horizontal wind components than
to assimilate radial velocity directly. The horizontal winds are
estimated by fitting a sinusoidal curve to the velocity data, and
this method has the benefit of avoiding vertical velocity during the
assimilation process.
From mid-August through mid-September Dr. Sippel participated
in the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) field campaign.
He traveled to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility near Chincoteague,
VA to participate in the second year of the field phase of the
campaign. He was there for roughly one month, during which he
served as a mission scientist during several research flights. He
summarized his research in a talk at the annual HS3 Science
Team Meeting in May.
In the coming year, he will continue work on assimilation experiments for Global-Hawk-based instruments. Recent work has
shown that data from the HIWRAP radar can improve hurricane
analyses and forecasts, but the usefulness of other Global-Hawkbased instruments needs to be examined. In addition to the
HIWRAP data, Dr. Sippel plans to assimilate dropsonde and scanning High-resolution Interferometer Sounder data from Hurricane
Nadine, which occurred during the 2012 HS3 campaign, the objective being to obtain accurate analysis of these tropical cyclones
with an EnKF, which can then be used to investigate the dynamics
of Nadine’s intensification and interaction with the Saharan Air
Layer. He also will be heavily involved in the HS3 field campaign
again. Extensive planning will take place during the summer of
2014, and the first deployment of the campaign will occur from
the middle of August through the end of September 2014. As coGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 27
investigator for HS3, he will be actively involved in decision making for which systems/cyclones to observe and how to observe
them. Outreach efforts will also continue, especially toward the
Morgan State University chapter of NASA’s SEMAA program (Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy). He is
also working with NASA’s Ames research center and the Baltimore
SEMAA program to plan a SEMAA field trip to NASA’s Wallops
Flight Facility so students can see real-time operations for the
HS3 Field Campaign.
examine the radiative impacts of cloud regimes, she used the
SYN 1-deg (combined Aqua and Terra) daily CERES product, which
was spatially matched with the MODIS-Aqua 1-deg daily TAU-CTP
cloud regimes in order to calculate the nine-year annual mean
SW, LW and net CRE of each regime along with its contribution
to the respective CREs of the entire geographical zone. Looking
ahead, Dr. Cho will be examining whether aerosol anomaly effects
on clouds can be detected by examining intra-regime variability
using TAU-REFF cloud regimes.
Dr. Lin Tian (sponsor: G. Heymsfield) conducts research to improve satellite rain retrieval algorithms. Global rain measurements
are important for advancing our understanding of Earth’s water
and energy cycle, and can improve forecasting of extreme events
that cause natural hazards and disasters. Dr. Tian’s efforts have
been directed toward improving microphysical assumptions, such
as particle size, phase, and distributions, for GPM rain retrieval
algorithms, through airborne radar and radiometer, aircraft in-situ
microphysics, and ground-based measurements: Over the past
year, Dr. Tian took the lead on analyzing multi ground-based
polarimetric radars and airborne radar measurements to understand dual-wavelength (Ku/Ka) observations in deep convective
storm. She presented her results at a national and an international conference. Toward the same goal, she has evaluated
the particle models to be used for radar-radiometer combined
algorithm. In collaboration with Drs. Olson and Grecu, Dr. Tian
has analyzed aircraft microphysics data from MC3E to derive the
particle size parameters which were used to validate theoretical
model. She is a member of the NASA GPM radar and radar-radiometer combined algorithm team.
Dr. Manisha Ganeshan (sponsor: D. Wu) analyzes GPS radio
occultation data to derive atmospheric boundary layer (ABL)
properties and study their climatological variations with a focus
on the Arctic region, working with radiosonde observations as well
as GPS data to examine seasonal and interannual variability over
the data sparse region of the Arctic. She also collaborates with
Goddard scientists to compare GPS-derived ABL characteristics
against global and regional models, reanalyses, and other independent satellite observations. From her recent research, ground
truth or radiosonde observations were obtained from SHEBA
campaign (over sea ice) and Japanese MIRAI cruise ship (over
open water). The vertical derivative of the refractivity (dN/dZ) was
derived and compared between GPS and radiosonde profiles.
Qualitatively, there is a good agreement. In general, the GPS data
is able to capture the variability related to surface-type (sea ice
vs. open water) as well as due to seasonal forcing. The shape of
the ‘dN/dZ’ profiles was further explored with an aim to develop a
numerical algorithm for obtaining boundary layer properties.
Dr. Tian also has focused her research on the development, and
eventual implementation, of a wind retrieval algorithm in hurricane from observations of HIWRAP (a downward conical scanning
Doppler radar flown on NASA Global Hawk) during NASA’s GRIP
field campaign. This is of great interest because, for the first time,
HIWRAP provided 3-D wind observations in the inner core of a major hurricane, which could improve the forecasting of hurricanes.
She plans to participate in both the IPHEX and HS3 field experiments, providing support with data analysis and archiving.
Dr. Nayeong Cho (sponsor: L. Oreopoulos) uses the concept
of “cloud regimes” as a basis for performing comparisons and
compositing analyses on a suite of spatiotemporally matching
observational data sets in order to enhance our understanding of
cloud structure and cloud interaction with their environment. She
examined CloudSat-derived measurements of precipitation within
gridcells containing particular MODIS-Aqua-Terra cloud regimes.
There is quantitative consistency with regard to the relative
hydrological importance of the various regimes, which is helpful
when assessing the cloud conditions under which low and high
confidence precipitation retrievals can be achieved. To further
28 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
An algorithm was developed using GPS refractivities. Over sea
ice, the minimum value in the refractivity gradient (dN/dZmin)
varies seasonally. This quantity was found to be strongly correlated to the strength of the surface-based (or elevated) inversion.
Whenever there is a strong increase in the lapse rate (such as
the occurrence of a neutral layer or temperature inversion), the refractivity gradient became proportionally negative. Similarly, over
open water, a seasonal evolution is observed in the level of the
minimum refractivity gradient. This level was found to be positively correlated with the top of the atmospheric mixed layer or
boundary layer. That the level of dN/dZmin appears higher during
October compared to September suggests that the atmospheric
mixed layer is more evolved. This feature was explored in detail
using radiosonde observations. Based on her research results,
Dr. Ganeshan is preparing a manuscript for publication. Contemporary scientific literature is currently focused on processes
during September when the annual sea-ice minimum occurs. This
new finding suggests that more observations and studies are
required for evaluating the implications of sea-ice melt during the
month of October. She will continue to work toward developing the
numerical algorithm to retrieve inversion strength and boundary
layer height from GPS-RO observations. Other properties that may
be derived from GPS data (e.g., the occurrence of moisture inversions) will also be explored. She also will investigate the sensitivity to surface-forcing (sea ice vs. open water) as well as seasonal
and inter-annual variability in the GPS-derived ABL properties will
be investigated. Comparisons will be performed against MERRA
reanalyses and AIRS satellite retrievals.
For this task, Dr. Santiago Gassó (sponsor: O. Torres) aims to
derive the spectral slope of aerosol absorption characteristics
of different aerosols using a combination of space-based and
ground-based remote sensing. Over the past year, extensive
comparisons of OMI-MODIS retrievals of single scattering albedo
and aerosol height resulted in no major improvement with respect
to the products already available from other methods. Even if the
researchers accounted for the multiple reasons this occurred, no
significant improvement would be achieved. The main reasons for
finding the desired result was that the additional MODIS information was not enough to account for the cloud contamination bias
in the OMI aerosol retrieval. They discovered that the OMI algorithm would make an aerosol retrieval in the contaminated pixel,
and the resulting AOD-versus-altitude was representative of contaminated radiances, unusable with the collocated MODIS Aerosol
Optical Depths (AOD). An alternative solution was considered, but
was determined impossible with the tools available and deemed
beyond the proposed objectives. Also, an extensive analysis over
Aeronet sites demonstrated that using a MODIS-corrected AOD in
the SSA retrieval of the SSA did not result in a better comparison
with Aeronet SSA.
Dr. Gassó also evaluated collocated OMI AODs over coastal and
island AERONET sites. While the overall comparison was statistically similar to a previous study over land sites, a detailed analysis
was carried out in order to determine the origin of the discrepancies in the comparison, i.e, why occasionally OMI derived an AOD
much higher or much lower than the corresponding Aeronet. It
was found that for the former, cloud contamination is the dominant effect; that is, the additional radiance in the pixel results
in an artificially high AOD. For the cases where OMI AOD were
much lower than AERONET, it was found that the aerosol models
used in the retrievals did not have imaginary indexes of refraction
high enough to reproduce the observed radiance, resulting in a
low OMI AOD. This effect will be corrected in future versions of
the retrieval code. A detailed comparison of overlapping MODIS
and OMI pixels was carried out in order to assess the amount of
cloud contamination in the OMI pixel. Future work will involve a
study over AERONET sites and derive the contribution of organics
and black carbon aerosols by constraining the simulation using
observed lidar and AERONET aerosol information.
Dr. Santiago Gassó (sponsor: O. Torres) works on a second task,
obtaining a continuous record of AOD over land using past and
present satellite observations in the UV through a multi-satellite
approach. He has started to analyze data from the Cloud and
Aerosol Instrument (CAI) onboard the GOSAT. Additionally, he
created computer scripts for reading and displaying CAI data and
compared with similar parameters from the OMI satellite, created
a code to compute reflectivities from CAI data, and compared
simulated radiances with those from OMI over collocated and
simulated scenes. He will be assessing the calibration of CAI and
how it impacts the Lambertian Equivalent Reflectance derivation.
For multiple selected case studies, he will assess the degree to
contamination in a typical OMI as determined by CAI.
Much of the work of Dr. Charles Gatebe (sponsor: C. Ichoku) involves the development of instruments and technologies for new
measurements in support of future missions, including those defined in the U.S. National Research Council Decadal Survey. Over
the past year, he has been involved in at least three proposals to
this effect. Dr. Gatebe submitted a proposal (SnowMass) for an
integrated multi-sensor airborne, field, and modeling campaign
to improve estimation of Snow Water Equivalent. The SnowMass
team brings together seasoned Science experts in snow remote
sensing using multiple types of sensors, interdisciplinary scientific data analysis, data assimilation, land surface modeling,
data management systems, and airborne sensor operations. The
ground truth collection team includes the most experienced team
of in situ snow measurement experts ever assembled. Two other
NASA ROSES proposals were submitted as well, one focusing on
the development of new angular distribution models for satellite
assessment of direct radiative forcing by wildfire aerosols derived
using multi-angular/spectral airborne measurements and 3D radiative transfer modeling, the other focuses on the development of
a low-noise high-gain charge-integrating pre- amplifier with reset
and sample/hold for photodiodes. The new detector systems
technology will be used in the BACAR (BRDF, Albedo, Cloud and
Aerosol Radiometer) instrument and will open up several exciting
and unique avenues of groundbreaking research relevant to NASA
earth science missions. Dr. Gatebe works with Bryan James
(GSFC, Code 552), who is supporting the BACAR project. Bryan
is on a one-year assignment under the Science and Engineering
Collaboration Program (SECP).
Other work will involve studying the effects of biomass burning
activities on surface albedo over the sub-Saharan Africa region
using the MODIS albedo product. This is part of the NASA IDS
study: Amplified study of the interactions and feedbacks between
biomass burning and water cycle dynamics across the northern
sub-Saharan African region (PI: Charles Ichoku). Dr. Gatebe will
be participating in the DISCOVER-AQ Colorado deployment this
summer. The overarching objective of the DISCOVER-AQ investigation is to improve the interpretation of satellite observations to
diagnose near-surface conditions relating to air quality. During the
month-long campaign, he will acquire airborne BRDF data with
the multi-wavelength NASA’s Cloud Absorption Radiometer (CAR).
Dr. Jie Gong (sponsor: D. Wu) works on developing retrieval techniques and delivering retrieval products (i.e., cloud ice water path,
cloud top height, ice particle size) of AMSUB/MHS onboard NOAA
satellite series. Additionally, correlative data sets are compared
to evaluate retrieval performances and uncertainties. Research
over the past year has involved deriving ice cloud properties from
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 29
microwave channels and multi-platform synergy works. Dr. Gong
has also collaborated and will continue to collaborate with other
scientists on testing and improving model performances in ice
cloud microphysics using the newly generated product. Research
has resulted in presentations at three international conferences
and two at NASA Goddard, as well as a related paper that is now
in press.
Dr. Pawan Gupta (sponsor: C. Ichoku) conducts research on
aerosol properties and satellite retrieval of aerosol properties over
urban areas, including characterizing uncertainties within current
aerosol retrieval algorithms, and proposing improved algorithms
for urban aerosol retrieval. Dr. Gupta has developed new surface
characterization over urban areas within the continental United
States. The new surface parameterization has been implemented
in the research version of the algorithm for both 10k and 3km
aerosol products. The new algorithm has been run over all of the
existing AERONET stations within the U.S. from 2003 to 2012,
and he has validated the new refined urban aerosol product
extensively over the U.S. The results from this validation study
show a high degree of improvement in bias over urban areas from
the existing product. Results are being summarized in a journal
article. Additionally, his research has resulted in both oral and
poster presentations in the past year, and led to his involvement
with a proposal on the MODIS Data Product.
As part of his task objective, to develop a set of advanced diagnostic frames for “cloud simulation validation” of GEOS-5 AGCM,
Dr. Daeho Jin (sponsor: L. Oreopoulos) implements the CFMIP Observation Simulator Package (COSP), categorizes the COSP output
to “Cloud Regimes”, and compares the results with an observational counterpart. Dr. Jin set up an advanced diagnostics of the
model’s cloud simulating performance, and performed a 10-year
simulation of the most recent version of GEOS-5 AGCM (Ganymed 4.0) with four satellite simulators (ISCCP, MODIS, CALIPSO,
CloudSat; the COSP). In addition, he also received two model
outputs with different microphysics: the McRAS-AC cloud scheme,
implemented by colleague Dr. Dong Min Lee, and the BarahonaMorrison-Gettelman (BMG) scheme, implemented by Dr. Donifan
Barahora (GMAO). With all three model outputs, he evaluated and
compared the cloud simulation performances. The ISCCP and
MODIS simulators among COSP provide 42 bins of joint histogram
of cloud top pressure (CTP) and optical thickness (tau), which are
the same as corresponding satellite observations. Dr. Jin could
directly compare the model results with observational counterpart
in terms of cloud characteristics. Because the cloud data is difficult to handle due to its 3-dimensional characteristics (horizontal
location/time/42bins), he set up a series of systematic diagnostics of each model’s cloud simulating performance.
Another approach to analyzing clouds is to examine “cloud
regimes (or weather states)”, which are obtained from clustering
analyses. Previously, colleagues Drs. Dong Min Lee and Nayeong
30 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Cho achieved cloud regimes from MODIS satellite data. Dr. Jin
followed their study, and applied the same method to the model
outputs. In this process, he found a severe programming error in
performing K-means clustering analysis, which had led to incorrect results of cloud regimes. After addressing these problems,
the algorithm was improved to reduce the computational time.
He also suggested modifications of traditional K-means clustering analysis. He found that most individual joint histogram data
has several zeroes among 42 bins, which (partly) contributes to
the overabundance of shapeless and semi-clear regime. In order
to reduce the effect of zero bins, Dr. Jin suggested two variants
of K-means clustering: a “reduced bins” method which merges
42 bins into 9 sub-groups, and performs K-means analysis with
9 bins instead of 42 bins, and a “reduced distance” method that
excludes zero bins when calculating distance from each centroids.
Both new algorithms produce significantly different clustering results from the results of original algorithm, and the interpretation
of these results is in process. Of note: Dr. Jin applied the principle
component analysis (PCA) to cloud data, which is the first attempt
in this field. Dr. Jin submitted a report on PCA to his sponsor, and
further application of PCA is under consideration.
and accounts for the effect of polarization of light. Several
updates for his code have been released after debugging. The
package is available for the community from the NASA ftp website: In the coming
months, he will be releasing the second part of the manual for his
code that simulates vector radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres. This part will contain all computational relations used
in the code and will be useful for those users who are willing to
understand theoretical background of the code in details (to compare with other codes) or to modify the code on their own.
To continue his validation of model output, he will be refining the
advanced diagnostics to evaluate the cloud simulating performance, and testing the modified algorithm of K-means clustering
analysis as well as the principle component analysis. Dr. Jin will
tune the AGCM to improve the cloud simulating performance by
cooperating with colleague (Dr. Dong Min Lee). They will examine and test the algorithm of sub-column generator in satellite
simulator and GEOS-5 model, and help to implement the aerosol
treatment modal method to promote interaction with the McRASAC micro-scheme.
Dr. Benjamin Marchant (sponsor: S. Platnick) successfully
delivered this year the MODIS Collection 6 (C6) Cloud phase
discrimination algorithm. For C6, the NIR-SWIR cloud thermodynamic phase algorithm has been completely rewritten in an effort
to improve the phase discrimination skill for a variety of cloudy
scenes (e.g., thin/thick clouds, over ocean/land/desert/snow/
ice surfaces, etc.). To evaluate the performance of the C6 cloud
thermodynamic phase algorithm, Dr. Marchant has conducted
extensive granule-level and global comparisons against the heritage C5 algorithm, collocated CALIOP v3 (1km and 5km) Cloud
Layer product, and POLDER. A great improvement is seen for C6
compared to C5. Going forward, he will work on adapting the
MODIS C6 Cloud phase discrimination algorithm to VIIRS or eMAS
sensors as well as investigate the potential of machine learning
techniques to continue improving cloud optical products.
Dr. Sergey Korkin (sponsor: A. Lyapustin) develops the numerical
radiative transfer algorithm for the retrieval of aerosol properties with consideration of polarization effects, including bottom
surface reflection, and vertical inhomogeneity of the atmosphere.
This past year, Dr. Korkin’s work on the retrieval algorithm experienced delays caused by technical problems related to compilation
of the hdf5 libraries with Fortran support under MS Visual Studio
2008. The AirMSPI data is released in the hdf5 format. It is more
convenient to read the data from the database directly to the retrieval code. Even with support from the HDF Group, the developer of hdf5 libraries, the process took several months. In the end,
two bugs in the Windows version of the sources were found, and
the libraries are now successfully compiled. Dr. Korkin will further
develop his retrieval algorithm based on the Levenberg-Marqurdt
technique. This algorithm is intended to retrieve optical properties
of aerosol using multi-angle spectropolarimetric data from the
AirMSPI sensor as well as his own radiative transfer code.
Dr. Korkin finalized the first part of the manual for his code that
numerically simulates light scattering in planetary atmospheres
Dr. Korkin’s code proved its high reliability, and with his code
for numerical simulation of radiative transfer in atmosphere, he
participated in the intercomparison of codes. Results to-date of
this intercomparison will be reported during two upcoming conferences. Dr. Korkin’s work resulted in his co-authoring one national
and one international presentation, as well as one peer-reviewed
publication. Additionally, using his code, he generated look-up
tables for the polarization correction of MODIS data. When polarization effects were taken into account, a significant improvement
in data visualization was observed.
Dr. Kerry Meyer (sponsor: S. Platnick) works on improving current
MODIS cloud retrieval (MOD06) capabilities for thin cirrus optical
property retrievals using the 1.38 micron channel. In addition,
the effects on MOD06 of absorbing aerosols overlying marine
boundary layer clouds are investigated. This past year, Dr. Meyer
developed a new retrieval using multiple MODIS spectral channels to simultaneously infer above-cloud absorbing aerosol (e.g.,
smoke) optical thickness and the optical and microphysical properties of underlying liquid phase marine boundary layer clouds.
Above-cloud absorbing aerosols introduce biases into standard
imager-based retrievals of cloud properties, such as those from
the operational MODIS cloud product (MOD06). The solution logic
of the new retrieval has recently been updated to use a computationally efficient optimal estimation-based approach to search a
large pre-computed look-up table for pixel-level retrieval solutions.
This approach also provides pixel-level estimates of retrieval un-
certainty. A regional aggregation algorithm has been developed to
produce daily and monthly statistics on a 1-degree grid. Preliminary case study comparisons with other data sets (e.g., CALIOP)
show good consistency.
Dr. Meyer provided science and data analysis support for the
MODIS Collection 6 (C6) reprocessing effort, specifically the operational cloud product (MOD06). He participated in finalizing the
cloud thermodynamic phase determination algorithm, identified
and fixed various coding bugs, provided a computational performance enhancement that significantly decreased processing
time, assisted in providing corrected ice cloud property look-up
tables, and analyzed science test results. He represented the
MOD06 cloud retrieval group at the international Cloud Retrieval
Evaluation Workshop (CREW-4), and provided writing and editorial
support for the upcoming MOD06 User’s Guide. Future work will
include a new cloud property retrieval User’s Guide and a manuscript detailing C6 changes and updates.
Dr. Meyer conducted work on a proposal awarded in June 2013.
Efforts included developing a method for retrieving above-cloud
absorbing aerosols and providing unbiased retrievals of underlying cloud optical and microphysical properties using MODIS
reflectance measurements. Additionally, the radiative effects (i.e.,
radiative forcing) of the aerosols will be estimated. Excellent progress has been made, specifically toward retrieval development. A
multispectral retrieval technique is now developed based on an
optimal estimation approach to efficiently search a large pre-computed look-up table for the retrieval solution, while simultaneously
providing estimates of retrieval uncertainty. Algorithms also have
been developed to aggregate daily and monthly retrieval statistics
on a 1-degree grid. Comparisons with MODIS operational cloud
retrievals show excellent agreement, and preliminary aerosol
comparisons using CALIOP show good consistency. Note: this
proposal fully funds a Ph.D. level graduate student working under
Dr. Zhibo Zhang (Co-I) at UMBC.
During the recent SEAC4RS field campaign, Dr. Meyer provided
support for the Enhanced MODIS Airborne Simulator (eMAS) operational cloud retrieval and clear-sky restoral algorithm, as well as
post-campaign calibration and data inter-comparison efforts. He
also developed a new bi-spectral thin cirrus cloud optical and microphysical property (optical thickness and particle size) retrieval
using eMAS reflectance measurements within the 1.88 micron
water vapor absorption band. The technique is loosely based on
the physics of previous efforts involving the MODIS 1.38 micron
channel, though it uses the well-known Nakajima and King [1990]
two-wavelength look-up table approach. The retrieval was recently
modified to use an optimal estimation approach for solution convergence and uncertainty estimates. Initial SEAC4RS case-study
comparisons with retrievals from the operational MAS06 product,
the Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL), an 11 micron IR retrieval, a multispectral IR optimal estimation technique, and polarimeter-based
retrievals show good consistency. A manuscript is in progress
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 31
that details a new thin cirrus optical and microphysical property
retrieval developed during the SEAC4RS field campaign using
eMAS reflectance measurements within the 1.88 micron water
vapor absorption band.
The research of Dr. Falguni Patadia (sponsor: R. Levy) involves
quantifying the uncertainty and error in the MODIS Dark Target
aerosol optical depth retrievals, as well as performing atmospheric corrections and radiative transfer calculations to generate
Look-Up-Tables for aerosol retrievals from MODIS, VIIRS, AMS,
and EMAS instruments. She is also involved in evaluating clouds
masks from the MODIS Dark Target and MODIS MAIAC aerosol
retrieval algorithms. Dr. Patadia used the Line-By-Line Radiative Transfer code to derive atmospheric gas correction relationships for those channels of the above instruments that are used
in aerosol retrievals. This atmospheric gas correction is being
used for performing MODIS aerosol retrievals and for MODIS-like
retrievals from VIIRS, AMS and EMAS instruments. For these
instruments, Dr. Patadia performed radiative transfer calculations for calculating the Top-Of-Atmosphere (TOA) reflectance for
various combinations of aerosol properties, surface conditions
and sun-satellite viewing geometry. These calculations are stored
as Look-Up-Tables for each of the above sensors and are being
used in performing aerosol retrievals from observations made by
MODIS, VIIRS AMS, and EMAS instruments.
Dr. Patadia has been researching the uncertainty and errors associated with AOD retrieved by NASA’s flagship MODIS Dark Target
algorithm. She is identifying the various sources of uncertainty
and is developing methods to quantify the uncertainty from each
of these sources at per-pixel retrieval level. Some of the sources
of uncertainty include calibration uncertainty in MODIS L1B reflectance, errors in ancillary data used for atmospheric corrections,
errors in surface reflectance, and uncertainty associated with
aerosol properties assumed in the retrievals. The per-retrieval
uncertainty numbers are especially useful for the data-assimilation community. Methods have been tested and uncertainty has
been quantified for several test cases, including over the African
continent, AERONET sites from the 2011 DRAGON campaign in
the Baltimore-Washington area, the Indian Ocean region, and
global oceans for four months of 2010. Her research on the MODIS AOD uncertainty will continue, and she is preparing a manuscript related to her work on Atmospheric Gas Correction for AOD
retrieval from MODIS and other sensors. Additionally, the MODIS
Dark Target and MAIAC aerosol algorithms retrieve aerosol optical thickness (AOT) only in cloud-free conditions. Before the AOT
retrievals are performed, the algorithms undergo an arduous task
of separating the cloudy and clear sky data pixels. Dr. Patadia is
evaluating the success, failure and corroboration of cloud and
clear sky identification from the two algorithms.
Dr. Andrew Sayer (sponsor: N. C. Hsu) conducts research to
improve the understanding of the effects of atmospheric aerosols
32 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
on the Earth System. A large part of this involved the MODIS
sensors aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites that provide some
of NASA’s flagship Earth Science data sets, including the ‘Deep
Blue’ aerosol project, led by Dr. Sayer’s NASA sponsor. Over the
past year, the next major reprocessing (‘Collection 6’, C6) of the
MODIS product suite was finalized, and these data are now being
released to the public. The C6 effort was a major focus over the
past year; in recognition of these efforts, Dr. Sayer and other
members of the MODIS team (which include Dr. Benjamin Marchant, Dr. Kerry Meyer, and Dr. Falguni Patadia) were presented
with an award for Outstanding Technical Support/Achievement
by NASA. The C6 work has also resulted in three peer-reviewed
journal papers this past year as well as two proposals to further
extend the capabilities of the Deep Blue algorithm. Dr. Sayer is
also part of a proposal involving the application of the Deep Blue
algorithm to NPP-VIIRS. In late 2011, the Suomi-NPP satellite was
launched as the first in a new series of U.S. operational weather/
climate satellites. The VIIRS instrument onboard Suomi-NPP is
similar to previous instruments such as MODIS and SeaWiFS. As
part of Dr. N. C. Hsu’s group, Dr. Sayer has taken the lead on transitioning algorithms developed to monitor aerosol particles over
oceans to VIIRS, and assisted efforts on over-land algorithms.
This has led to algorithms which have already been demonstrated
to generate aerosol data of similar quality to prior sensors. By
possibly applying these algorithms to the VIIRS sensor, they could
extend the time series of high-quality aerosol data for air quality,
climate, and other applications. This work with Dr. Hsu resulted in
two international presentations.
Dr. Sayer also studies aerosol/cloud interactions in South-Eastern
Asia (SEA), an area that provides a ‘natural laboratory’ for examining the interactions between aerosols and clouds, due to widespread agricultural burning practices in boreal springtime and
the transport of the resultant smoke above persistent low-lying
stratocumulus clouds. These interactions are a topic of substantial interest, as they remain among the more uncertain contributions to the radiative forcing of the Earth system. His work in this
area has led to two studies and a proposal, which, if funded, will
combine satellite data with ground-based measurements of aerosol and cloud properties made in this region as part of the 7-SEAS
field campaign. SEA has been under-studied compared to other
biomass-burning source regions, so this would represent a novel
and useful contribution to understanding these interactions.
Within this task, Dr. Yuekui Yang (sponsor: A. Marshak) uses a
synergistic method to study blowing snow properties over the
polar ice sheets, and applies his expertise in radiative transfer in
understanding the impact of clouds and blowing snow on the surface altimetry from space-borne lidars. He also investigates polar
cloud properties and cloud height retrieval algorithms. This past
year, Dr. Yang analyzed blowing snow properties over Antarctica.
Blowing snow (BLSN) is a common phenomenon over the polar
regions; over large areas of East Antarctica, it occurs over 60% of
the time during the winter months.
Dr. Yang’s analysis showed that,
during the year 2009, the monthly
mean blowing snow optical depths
were highest in the winter months
(April to September). The monthly
mean blowing snow geometrical
thickness is stable over the year.
Dr. Yang also conducted a study
on the effect of blowing snow on
outgoing longwave radiation (OLR)
over Antarctica by using observations from NASA satellites (CALIPSO
and CERES). He found significant
cloud-free OLR differences between
the clear and BLSN conditions, with
the sign and magnitude depending on the season and time of day.
During nighttime, OLR with BLSN
is usually larger than those without
BLSN; the average difference in
OLRs between these two conditions
over the East Antarctica ice sheet is
Figure: Monthly mean OLR flux differences between cases with and without blowing
about -5 W/m2 for the winter months
snow for (a) January (polar day) for (b) August (polar night). While about 66% of the OLR
(nighttime) of 2009. During daytime,
differences are positive in January, about 91% are negative in August. These results show
however, OLR with BLSN is usually
that blowing snow generally has a cooling effect to the surface-atmosphere system during
close to or smaller than OLR without
the polar night. During the polar day, however, the effect can be warming. (Credit: Y. Yang)
BLSN. These results are consistent
with theoretical calculations and
can be explained with the existence
and strength of the surface-based
inversions (SBIs). For example, because of strong SBIs, during
Dr. Yan Zhang (sponsor: M. Chin) conducts research involving the
the polar night, the BLSN layer is warmer than the surface and
assessment of aerosol diurnal variations, aerosol intercontinental
more radiation is emitted to space compared to clear sky conditransport and aerosol impacts on climate and air quality based
tions; hence, BLSN generally has a cooling effect to the surfacelargely on A-Train and other satellite observations in combination
atmosphere system. During the polar day, however, SBIs can be
with ground-based measurements (AERONET and CARSNET) and
destroyed and the effect of BLSN will be the opposite. Based on
global models (GOCART and a suite of AeroCom models). Subsethese studies, Dr. Yang published a paper in Geophysical Requently she is involved in analyzing diurnal variations, comparing
search Letters.
model simulations with CARSNET and AERONET AODs in China,
and integrating multiple satellite measurements to characterize
Dr. Guoyong Wen (sponsor: R. Cahalan) studies radiative transfer
aerosol type and intercontinental transport. For the project on
of solar radiation in the atmosphere. He focuses on Sun-Climate
aerosol inter-continental transport, Dr. Zhang has been analyzing
relations and understanding climate responses to solar variability
multi-year collocated satellite data to determine the possible relaon decadal, centennial and longer time scales using observation
from NASA’s SORCE satellite, and also studies the 3D cloud radia- tionship of different aerosol properties or aerosol index. The goal
is to separate different aerosol types which will help to accurately
tive effects on aerosol retrieval in the vicinity of clouds for MODIS
estimate each species of aerosols inter-continental transport.
aerosol retrievals. His research over the past year has resulted
Some unclear factors still exist, making it difficult to get a simple
in three presentations and two peer-reviewed publications. Dr.
but accurate relationship between those aerosol properties;
Wen will continue working with scientists at NASA/GISS to study
therefore, Dr. Zhang analyzed individual cases that were selected
climate response to spectral solar forcing using GISS GCM. He
according to SAMMUM2 campaign from ground-based observawill further investigate issues on correcting 3D cloud radiative eftions, air flight observations, and satellite measurements. Results
fects, and improve technique for correcting the effects on aerosol
indicated that multi-sensor satellite measurements have a good
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 33
agreement with conclusions from the SAMMUM2 campaign. A
related manuscript is in progress.
Dr. Valentina Aquila (sponsor: P. Colarco) develops stratospheric
aerosol and chemistry modules in the NASA GEOS CCM modeling
system, and devises, conducts and analyzes experiments made
with the NASA GEOS CCM system to investigate the various roles
of stratospheric aerosols and chemistry in Earth’s climate system.
In 2013-2014, Dr. Aquila worked on stratospheric aerosol from
geoengineering and natural sources. She explained the effects
that geoengineering via stratospheric sulfate would have on
stratospheric ozone and the quasi-biennial oscillation. Additionally, she improved the GEOSCCM chemistry climate model by
introducing the ability of simulating the OCS chemistry leading to
the formation of background stratospheric aerosol. In the coming
year, she plans to continue work on stratospheric aerosol, by analyzing the sources of the stratospheric aerosol layer. In this project, Dr. Aquila will merge model results to satellite data, including Aura and the recently launched NPP satellites. For another
project, Dr. Aquila participated in the NASA SEAC4RS airborne
field campaign based in Houston, TX as part of the chemical forecasting team. She analyzed the output of several climate models
in order to help the science team finalizing the flight paths. From
her research efforts, she has authored and co-authored three
publications, and been part of one paper to be submitted. She
also submitted several proposals, of which one has been awarded
to date.
Brewer and the Washington State University MFDOAS instrument).
Dr. Cede has completed the calibrations and submitted the data
for the15 Pandoras distributed during the second DISCOVER-AQ
field campaign (Jan-Feb 2013) in California and the third DISCOVER-AQ field campaign during Jul-Aug 2013 in Texas. For the
instrument calibration, laboratory measurements before and after
the campaign at GSFC as well as field data at the campaign sites
were used.
This past year, Dr. Cede investigated new ideas. First, they tested
the possibility of doing absolute calibration of Pandoras in the
laboratory at GSFC. As a result, this type of lab-measurements in
the standard Pandora laboratory calibration routine was included.
Second, a new approach for the Pandora stray light characterization, which is based on merging data with bandpass filters and lasers, was tested. This new approach failed, since the dark bias in
Pandora read-out electronics is too large. Therefore, another route
was attempted, for which a stray light simulation software was
developed as a first step. Work will continue regarding improvements to the Pandora stray light correction, dark correction, and
total ozone algorithm (including the effective ozone temperature).
Other highlights from the last year included an invited talk at
the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook
University, in New York about the effect of the eruption on Mount
Pinatubo on ozone concentrations. About 40 people attended, including faculty professors and graduate students. Also, Dr. Aquila
was awarded a teaching postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins
University; during the upcoming fall semester, she will be teaching “Freshmen Seminar: An Introduction to Climate Change”. In
summer 2013, Dr. Aquila was recognized with a NASA ESD-Atmosphere Contractor Award for outstanding performance in science.
Dr. Edward Celarier (sponsor: N. Krotkov) works primarily with the
OMI NO2 team. He develops new code for operational production of NO2 data from OMI, updates and modifies the operational
algorithm code to implement algorithm enhancements developed
by other members of the OMI NO2 team, reviews and examines
test data from the operational OMI NO2 algorithm, and writes
documentation of the algorithm and software. He has been
working on the development of the NO2 SCD code. Starting with
“research code” from Dr. S. Marchenko, written in IDL, Dr. Celarier
created an operational code in Fortran 95, ultimately for operational forward processing. This has required a thorough review of
the algorithm, identification and implementation of appropriate
numerical procedures, and identification of potential use cases
that would result in operational failure. In addition, he structured
the code for maintainability and readability, and much more thoroughly documented it. In his restructuring of the code, it should
now be easily adaptable to the retrieval of trace gases other than
NO2, mostly through the adjustment values contained in the operational parameters file (OPF) and program control file (PCF). The
first (alpha) version of the algorithm is nearly complete.
For Aura Validation and DISCOVER-AQ, Dr. Alexander Cede (sponsor: K. Pickering) calibrates and analyzes the PANDORA and CLEO
spectrometer systems to measure trace gases in the atmosphere
(e.g., O3, SO2, HCHO, BrO, NO2, H2O) that have absorption spectra
in the 300 to 525 nm spectral range. He writes and deploys the
necessary automated software needed for Pandora operation
and data analysis. The resulting measured trace gas amounts
are then compared with AURA/OMI measurements to determine
the validity of the OMI spacecraft retrievals. As part of this effort,
various ground campaigns will be conducted that include comparisons with reference ground-based instruments (GSFC double
For an Environment Canada (EC) field campaign in Northern Alberta, Dr. Celarier developed a field-of-view (FoV) prediction program,
which differed in the scale of the region of interest from previous
field campaigns. Where other field campaigns had focused on
large, multi-state regions of CONUS, EC’s region of interest is an
area of about 100 km on a side, in the area of Fort McMurray,
Alberta, where tar sands oil extraction operations are ongoing. To
accommodate EC’s request, some significant modifications to the
existing code were required, including a finer-scale (10-second)
placement of isochrons, and the addition of specified geographic
features to the map, plus more flexible means to specify the anno-
34 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
tations placed on the map. Dr. Celarier produced several prediction maps that were used by Environment Canada in support of
their field campaign flight planning.
In collaboration with team members, Dr. Celarier produced the
award-winning poster “The Ozone Hole: Over 30 years of NASA
observations”. He assisted with visual display elements, and
wrote and edited much of the explanatory text. The poster is being
distributed by NASA, and the material is also available in PDF files
(poster and booklet) from This poster won a 2013 Communicator Award for Excellence in Print and Design by the International Academy of the
Visual Arts. He also co-authored a publication with Dr. E. Bucsela,
now available in the online journal AMT.
Dr. Melanie Follette-Cook (sponsor: K. Pickering) performs
regional air quality modeling in support of the analysis of DISCOVER-AQ data, and participates in DISCOVER-AQ field deployments
as part of the forecasting/flight planning team. She analyzes data
from the ACAM instrument, and contributes to spatial and temporal variability analyses in support of planning activities for NASA’s
GEO-CAPE satellite. In support of planning activities for NASA’s
GEO-CAPE and TEMPO satellites, Dr. Follette-Cook calculated
spatial and temporal structure functions and statistics by using
output from a month-long WRF/Chem simulation she previously
performed in order to quantify trace gas and aerosol variability.
The trace gases O3, NO2, CO, SO2, and HCHO were analyzed over
the Eastern U.S. for the month of July 2011, corresponding with
the DISCOVER-AQ campaign. Overall, her analysis results indicate
that the precision requirements developed for the GEO-CAPE and
TEMPO science traceability matrices are well-equipped to answer
the air-quality relevant science questions they are tasked to address. Results were summarized in a submitted manuscript.
She began working on a GEO-CAPE task to demonstrate the
collaborative work that will be possible to achieve with the
combination of the GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper and
GEO-CAPE. She modified a version of WRF/Chem to incorporate
interactive ozone within the radiation scheme. Using this version,
simulations were completed with and without lightning in order to
compute upper tropospheric enhancements of O3 and NOx due to
lightning. She found an error in the way the simulation was conducted; in searching for a solution, a faster and more streamlined
method to run WRF/Chem for long periods of time was developed.
Analysis results are currently being written up in manuscript form.
Additionally, several profiles were provided to the GEO-CAPE sensitivity team for calculation of several averaging kernels covering
different wavelength regions. Based on preliminary results, upper
tropospheric ozone enhancements from lightning should be retrievable by GEO-CAPE, regardless of the wavelength range used.
Dr. Follette-Cook will participate in these future activities for
DISCOVER-AQ: complete a WRF/Chem simulation for the Sep-
tember 2013 DISCOVER-AQ deployment in Houston, TX; compare
WRF/Chem output to DISCOVER-AQ measurements; participate in
the fourth DISCOVER-AQ deployment in July 2014 in Boulder, CO.
For GEO-CAPE, she will submit a manuscript related to research
from the past year; complete the lightning NOx analysis; assess
the improvement in the ability of GEO-CAPE to detect the NO2
from lightning over that of OMI; and, evaluate the ability of GEOCAPE to detect the enhanced O3 due to lightning NOx by applying
averaging kernels from the GEO-CAPE retrieval sensitivity work to
the WRF/Chem output.
Dr. Pawan Gupta (sponsor: J. Joiner) supports the development of
remote sensing trainings for the NASA Applied Sciences Program
in the area of air quality applications, the goal being to increase
utilization of NASA remote sensing data sets among applied
professionals. Dr. Gupta creates and distributes educational and
training materials, and provides training workshops and seminars.
Specifically, he develops training materials on using data products
relevant to air quality applications from the OMI, MISR and MODIS
instruments. In summer 2013, he conducted a five-week-long
training for the Applied Remote SEnsing Training (ARSET) Program, providing online training on fundamentals of remote sensing data usage for air quality applications. About 100 participants,
including both national and international air quality data users,
attended this training session conducted by Dr. Gupta and the
ARSET team. The training included an overview of remote sensing
training program, basics of satellite remote sensing, introduction
to NASA air quality products and online tools to access the NASA
data sets, and was an introduction to an upcoming in-person advance training held in Santa Clara, CA, primarily for the Bay Area
Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in Sept 2013.
From Sept 10-12, 2013, Dr. Gupta and other members of the ARSET program conducted three in-person training sessions on the
use of NASA satellite data for air quality applications; these sessions included 16 attendees from agencies in California. Held at
University California, Santa Clara (UCSC), the event was co-sponsored by the NASA Applied Sciences Program and the BAAQMD.
Attendees learned how to apply NASA satellite data, imagery and
web tools to air quality management problems in their region. The
focus of the training was NASA and NOAA’s smoke/fire and aerosols products and their applications for air quality monitoring.
In fall 2013, the ARSET Program conducted a five-week-long
online training on fundamentals of remote sensing data usage
for air quality applications, which was provided in preparation
of a training session in Nov 2013. There were about 60 participants including both national and international air quality data
users. Dr. Gupta and the ARSET team conducted the training,
which included an overview of remote sensing training program,
basics of satellite remote sensing, introduction to NASA air quality
products and online tools to access the NASA data sets. In Nov
2013, Dr. Gupta attended a VIIRS aerosol science and operational
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 35
sible observing scenario of future
NASA air quality mission TEMPO and
GEOCAPE using MODIS data sets. He
specifically worked on evaluating a
new product with ground measurements.
(Image credit: H. Jethva)
users workshop in College Park, MD from Nov. 21-22, where he
presented a talk on the NASA ARSET program and the application
of VIIRS aerosols data for air quality applications.
Another online training session was held over six weeks, from Jan
8 – Feb 21, 2014, on the fundamentals of remote sensing data
usage for air quality applications. This training was provided inpreparation of an in-person advance training to be held in Austin,
TX. The training, conducted by Dr. Gupta and the ARSET team,
included an overview of remote sensing training program, basics
of satellite remote sensing, introduction to NASA air quality products and online tools to access the NASA data sets. More recently,
Dr. Gupta led a special online training focused on application of
satellite data for Indian sub-continent. This training was held from
March 19 to April 23, 2014, and consisted of about 156 participants from more than 10 countries in the region.
For this second task, Dr. Pawan Gupta (sponsor: O. Torres)
studies radiative transfer calculations in UV, visible and near IR,
develops global climatological data sets on surface reflective
properties, and prepares publications and presentations. For
his evaluation of TEMPO and GEOCAPE-like aerosol product, Dr.
Gupta and other team members worked toward simulating a pos36 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Dr. Gupta is working toward creating new global surface reflectivity
data sets to be used in operational
OMI aerosol retrieval. The existing data sets are based on TOMS
records, whereas new data sets have
been created using high-resolution
OMI observations. For this ongoing project, they have processed
several versions of data sets. New
developments include the following: a presentation on the new data
sets made at the OMI Science Team
meeting, with the data sets undergoing revision based on the feedback
from the science team; a 9-year-long
MODIS climatology implemented in
place of 1-year-old climatology; ongoing testing with longer time series
over global AERONET locations;
and an inter-comparison with MISR
L2 data sets in progress. Going
forward, the team will extend the
analysis to 20 other wavelengths,
which will be used to retrieve other trace gases product from OMI.
Dr. Hiren Jethva (sponsor: O. Torres) works on the TEMPO-GEOCAPE analysis to simulate the possible aerosol retrieval scenarios
from the future geo-stationary missions, namely, TEMPO and
GEO-CAPE. While TEMPO already has been approved and funded,
GEO-CAPE is still in the proposal and design phase. Both missions
are aimed at monitoring the pollution over the Northern America
region at high spatial and temporal resolutions. His work began
by carrying out the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) retrieval over
the continental land region of North America for four selected
case study days using the MODIS reflectance measurements.
While the spatial resolution of TEMPO is 2 x 4.5 km2, GEO-CAPE
should have an even higher resolution of 1 x 1 km2, both at
nadir view. The goal is to evaluate the aerosol retrieval at these
two different resolutions, and in order to do so, the MODIS
aerosol stand-alone code was used to retrieve the AOT from the
TEMPO and GEO-CAPE-like measurements set up originally as
derived from the 1-km high-resolution MODIS data. A statistical
comparison between the referenced GEO-CAPE simulation and
three TEMPO simulations (with different cloud masks) was done
to evaluate the spatial coverage and quality of retrieved AOT
associated with two different spatial resolutions. This analysis
was later conducted on a monthly scale to better understand the
differences between them. During the last quarter of this annual
cycle (Jan-Mar 2014), Dr. Jethva was tasked to validate the AOT
retrieval produced from the Multi-angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction (MAIAC) algorithm against the ground-based
AERONET direct measurements. He adopted a well-accepted
spatio-temporal approach to co-locate the satellite data with that
of ground-based for many sites over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. The analysis results were presented at the GEOCAPE Aerosol Working Group meetings held at NASA GSFC.
Dr. Jethva also worked on the OMAERUV Aerosol Single-scattering
Albedo Assessment, expanding the OMAERUV vs. AERONET
single-scattering albedo analysis to all available AERONET sites
distributed globally. This comprehensive analysis includes about
450 AERONET sites that span across major biomass burning
regions, desert dust environments, and urban locations. OMI
retrievals were collocated with AERONET in space and time for
about 250 sites where at least one matchup between ground and
satellite data was obtained. The plots of OMAERUV vs. AERONET
for each site and for each aerosol type were created. Agreement and disagreement between the results of two independent
techniques were diagnosed in relation to the aerosol optical
depth (AOD) and UV-Aerosol Index. The possible uncertainties
in both inversions were also examined through literature survey
and uncertainty analysis. Results obtained from this analysis
were incorporated into a paper, which, along with comments and
suggestions received from anonymous reviewers, was revised and
resubmitted to the Journal of Geophysical Research. At present,
he is working on a revision.
He worked on comparing the OMAERUV and the SKYNET Aerosol Single-scattering Albedo. Dr. Jethva assessed the OMAERUV
single-scattering albedo product using ground measurements of
the equivalent quantity retrieved from an independent ground
network of sky radiometers known as “SKYNET”. The data was
acquired through an ftp site hosted by Japan’s Chiba University.
Unlike AERONET which provides the sky inversion product at the
shortest wavelength of 440 nm, several SKYNET sites measure
and retrieve the aerosol single-scattering albedo in the near-UV region of the spectrum (340 nm, 380 nm, 400 nm). This facilitates
a direct comparison of the OMAERUV SSA with ground retrievals
without dealing with the wavelength conversion. Dr. Jethva compared OMAERUV with SKYNET for several sites over Japan, China,
India, and Europe.
He conducted an intercomparison of A-train sensors above-cloud
aerosol optical depth. An inter-sensor assessment of above-cloud
AOT is an important exercise to check the consistency (or inconsistency) between the independently derived above-cloud aerosol
retrieval from different sensors on board A-train satellites. Dr.
Jethva conducted and completed such an analysis by combining
the above-cloud AOT retrieval from A-train sensors (i.e., MODIS,
CALIOP, POLDER, and OMI for selected case studies). Spatial
maps of the retrievals derived from the passive sensors were
compared in terms of the spatial patterns and magnitude of AOT.
The research retrievals derived from different sensors were also
collocated along the CALIPSO lidar track for the inter-comparison.
Research results were compiled in a manuscript that, after
reviews and a revision, was accepted by Geophysical Research
Letters and published online in January 2014. He also presented
a poster summarizing the results at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting.
Furthermore, Dr. Jethva co-authored a review paper led by Kirk
Knobelspiesse (NASA Ames) titled “Remote Sensing of Above
Cloud Aerosols”, an in-depth review of published literature on the
above-cloud aerosol characterization from space-borne sensors.
After revision and modification as suggested by the editor, the
paper was accepted as a chapter in Light Scattering Reviews
(Springer Praxis Books, Vol. 9).
Other work over the past year included his creation of global
monthly mean maps and data sets of the OMI/OMAERUV products for version V142 and V147. Using this data set, he delivered
seasonal and Hovmoller plots of the aerosol products which
are now ready for access to the users. He also carried out the
radiative transfer simulations to create the above-cloud aerosols look-up-table using the VLIDORT package. The results of
RT simulations were put in to a multi-dimensional array format
for its ingestion in to the global operational code currently being
prepared by a team member, Changwoo Ahn (SSAI). And, under
the MEaSUREs project, he prepared the cloud-free aerosol lookup-tables for its use in the long-term global retrieval from multiple
sensors (i.e., N1/TOMS, EP-TOMS, and Aura/OMI).
Dr. Jethva performed a stand-alone above-cloud AOD retrieval for
a wildfire event that occurred in California on Aug 5-6, 2013. On
August 6th, the SEAC4RS team conducted a test flight over the
west coast of California to measure the properties of smoke generated from burning activities. The smoke plume was eventually
transported over the low-level cloud decks over the Pacific Ocean
for which Dr. Jethva sent his retrieval results to Dr. Lorraine Remer
(UMBC), who presented them in the SEAC4RS meeting.
Dr. Jethva acted as co-convener of an AGU Special Session: Aerosols above Cloud in Dec 2013. Along with Dr. Omar Torres (GSFC)
and Dr. Eric Wilcox (DRI), he contributed in selecting oral and poster presentations and finally convened the session successfully in
the AGU meeting. He also presented posters at the AGU Meeting,
at the Aerocenter annual update, and at the first Young Scientist
Forum held at NASA Goddard in June 2013. He contributed to a
poster presentation given by his sponsor at the OMI science team
meeting held in March 2014 in The Netherlands. Dr. Jethva gave
an invited talk in Sept 2013 in the Climate and Radiation Lab
seminar series on his work on the characterization of above-cloud
aerosols. He also gave two talks in the internal GEO-CAPE Aerosol
Working Group meetings that are held regularly at NASA GSFC.
Further, Dr. Jethva participated as a PI and a Co-I on two proposGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 37
als, one submitted to the 2013 NASA ROSES Terra/Aqua and one
to the ROSES-2013 Aura Science Team, respectively. The second
proposal was awarded funding.
In the coming months, Dr. Jethva will create required look-uptables for the retrieval of above-cloud aerosols globally using the
OMI observations. He also will be in charge of further algorithm
improvement, particularly the refinement in the aerosol models
and layer height assumptions. Upon the production of the first
version of the processed retrieval, he will analyze the regional
and global patterns of above-cloud aerosols in relation to the
cloud-free OMAERUV retrieval. He has been assigned a task to
perform a regional cluster analysis of the ground-based AERONET
data in order to establish the models of near-UV to visible spectral
dependence of aerosol extinction and absorption. The models derived from this analysis will be used to carry out OMI-MODIS joint
retrievals of single-scattering albedo and aerosol layer heights.
Dr. Dongchul Kim (sponsor: M. Chin) investigates aerosol distribution using the NASA GOCART model and multiple observations
from space and ground-based remote sensing techniques. He
leads the dynamic dust source function development effort in the
NU-WRF modeling system. This past year, Dr. Kim led comparisons of the simulated dust aerosols over North Africa and the
North Atlantic from five global models that were part of the AeroCom phase II model experiments. By examining model results,
Dr. Kim found remarkable differences among the simulated dust
amount and distribution. This study highlights the challenges in
simulating the dust physical and optical processes and stresses
the need for observable quantities to constrain the model processes. He is developing a new dynamic dust source function to
improve the current modeling system, which will be applied for
several studies on aerosol-cloud-climate system and air pollution.
Dr. Kim is investigating a long-term relationship between vegetation and dust. Southern North Africa, ranging from 10°N to 20°N,
consists of the Sahara desert, the Sahel, and the Savanna; the
abundant dust from this region influences regional and global climate, human health, and even the local economy. The goal of this
study is to better understand the area and dust emissions over
the region, which strongly interacts with land and atmospheric
processes, using a novel Sahel area map determined from the
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from satellite
observations and a global aerosol model.
From his study on the impact of sulfate and carbonaceous aerosols on cloud, Dr. Kim has investigated the responses of the direct
radiative effect of light absorbing and scattering carbonaceous
and sulfate aerosols on cloudiness and associated radiative
fluxes, using an interactive aerosol-climate model coupled with a
slab ocean model. His team has found that without including the
impact of aerosols on cloud microphysics in the model (indirect
effect), the direct radiative effect of aerosols alone can cause a
change in cloud coverage and thus in cloud flux change, which is
38 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
consistent with several previous studies.
He also has examined new indices for wet scavenging of air pollutants by summertime rain. The removal of air pollutants by falling
precipitation remains of great interest to the scientific community.
Although it is important to better understand the wet scavenging
of air pollutants by rainfall within the complex nonlinear atmospheric chemistry system, it is difficult to completely separate
the washout effect from other gas-phase processes, such as dry
deposition, atmospheric mixing, and chemical transformation. In
this study he and his team have analyzed the relative influence
of the washout effect on the major air pollutants and developed
quantitative measures for its estimation using the hourly observations of the criteria air pollutants (PM10, SO2, NO2, CO, and O3) and
rainfall in South Korea during the summer season over ten years,
Mr. Matthew Kowalewski (sponsor: S. Janz) provides scientific
and engineering support to the Radiometric Calibration and
Development Laboratory (RCDL) at GSFC. This support includes
proof of concept instrumentation, calibration standards, and technical guidance to the backscatter ultraviolet (BUV) community.
Programs supported include GEO-CAPE, NPP and JPSS OMPS,
DISCOVER-AQ, and Pandora. The Pandora instrument is a groundbased atmospheric pollution monitoring device that can conduct
automated direct sun and diffuse sky radiance observations from
remote locations. Mr. Kowalewski performed assembly, maintenance, and calibration testing for the NASA GSFC Pandora instruments to be deployed in the field as part of the DISCOVER-AQ
Houston 2013 campaign. Pre-deployment support was provided
for a total of ten instruments.
The RCDL develops and maintains prototype instrumentation and
components for use in solar backscatter research. Mr. Kowalewski ensures that the lab’s technical activities are performed
and meet the goals and direction of the lab’s Principal Investigator. The primary focus of RCDL was to complete development of
the Geo-CAPE Airborne Simulator (GCAS) in time for deployment
to Houston, TX in September 2013 as part of the DISCOVER-AQ
Earth Venture campaign. Serving as the lead systems engineer,
Mr. Kowalewski directed a diverse team of mechanical and electrical engineers, technicians and analysts in developing the instrument hardware and preparing for its integration and checkout
aboard the aircraft. GCAS was successfully completed in time
for testing and integration on the B200 aircraft in August 2013.
Flight tests showed that the instrument was capable of operating
in the flight environment and subsequent data analysis revealed
an improvement of at least a factor of 3 over ACAM in air quality
product retrieval sensitivity with enhanced ground resolution.
During the DISCOVER-AQ Earth Venture campaign, airborne
science instrumentation was used for measurements of NO2,
Ozone, and other pollutants. After the development and testing of
GCAS, among Code 614’s further contributions to the campaign
were the deployment and operation of the GEOCAPE Airborne
Simulator. Mr. Kowalewski led the instrument team in day-to-day
preparations and operations during GCAS’s participation in this
campaign. He completed final instrument calibration tests and
closeouts of the instrument prior to shipment to NASA Langley,
led the instrument integration to the aircraft with RCDL staff and
aircraft flight personnel, participated in Langley aircraft Engineering Safety Readiness Reviews, and supported the instrument
checkout and science flights. GCAS successfully completed
deployment and operations in Houston, flying in all science flights,
plus two additional flights coordinated with the Gulf of Mexico
GEOCAPE validation experiment (GoMEX). This new instrument
operated very well during its maiden deployment, delivering all
required data products.
Mr. Kowalewski led the data processing effort and on-time delivery of the first version of the GCAS science data products for
this DISCOVER-AQ Earth Venture campaign. He also successfully
completed the post-mission characterization of GCAS by performing the laser slit function and wavelength registration tests. These
results will be used in forthcoming data analyses. Evaluation and
processing of the GCAS DAQ flight data began with the evaluation of instrument pointing and geolocation accuracy. Mr. Kowalewski created red/green/blue (RGB) true color imagery from the
hyperspectral data set and began efforts to automatically extract
water-land transitions in order to validate instruments geolocation algorithm. In addition, the first delivery of GCAS science
products was submitted to the DAQ data archive on schedule. In
the coming months, preparations for the final DISCOVER-AQ field
campaign in Denver, CO will begin, including enhancements to the
instrument thermal management system, polarization performance, and processing software. Final pre-deployment characterization tests will be performed prior to integration with the aircraft
in late June 2014.
The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) OMPS Flight Model 2
(FM2) Nadir instrument completed the official sensor level and
Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) test program. As a representative of the instrument science team, Mr. Kowalewski supported
the NASA Flight Project Office during all phases of the OMPS
FM2 integration and testing. He also served on an independent
anomaly review team in support of the JPSS Clouds and Earth’s
Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument by briefing the GSFC
Tiger Team subject matter experts before the LaRC-GSFC anomaly
review meeting. He also coordinated component level tests in the
GSFC Radiometric Calibration Facility’s vacuum chamber that
resulted in exonerating a key part of the sensor’s onboard calibration system. Mr. Kowalewski’s support for the JPSS OMPS will
continue as the instrument progresses through its pre-shipment
review. This includes participation in instrument sell-off activities
and post-test data analyses, and RCDL evaluations. Completion of
component level testing of ground support equipment intended to
support OMPS performance analysis is anticipated in the upcoming year.
Mr. Tom Kucsera (sponsor: M. Chin) supports global and regional
modeling and analysis of atmospheric aerosols and trace gases,
and supports NASA-sponsored observational programs. He
compiles observations from satellite, ground-based, and in-situ
measurements for model input, evaluation, and improvement;
executes and evaluates atmospheric modeling codes; develops diagnostic software for analysis of model output and satellite data;
and develops and maintains websites for user access to large
central databases of model output. He also performs software
and hardware management, as well as computer administration duties. This past year, a RAID disk array containing 12TB
of data had a major hardware failure when the disk controller
in this device failed. The controller from another device, which
was previously removed from operation, was used and the disk
array that contained the data was once again made operational.
Several new laptops were acquired and the mandatory NASA IT
required controls were installed on these machines along with
standard software products. Four new disk arrays were added to
the Rondo workstation; with their addition, close to 100 Terabytes
of additional disk storage was made available to group members.
All managed software and hardware equipment were regularly
updated and maintained.
In coordination with the NCCS computing center’s system administrators, Mr. Kucsera acquired additional project space for use by
the GOCART modeling project. Available to group members, this
space was increased from 10TB to 60TB. He then brought over
the MERRA meteorological data and stored the data on the local
NCCS computer system. Originally, these large volumes of data
resided on a remote ftp site that frequently experienced data access issues, which adversely affected the production runs of the
GOCART model simulations. Having the information accessible on
the locally available project space sped up the performance of the
modeling runs and increased productivity. Mr. Kucsera prepared
California Station Fire emissions for use in the NU-WRF model.
Emission products based on the representative height of the CA
Station Fire were determined from the MISR observations. In the
fire areas, the emission products were vertically distributed based
on the estimated plume heights for the fires in that region. Mr.
Kucsera generated re-gridded HTAP version 2 emissions and regional maps. The emission data products and regionally specified
maps from the HTAP program’s repository were retrieved. These
products were regridded to 1.25x1 deg. resolutions for use in
the GOCART model. These data sets consisted of multiple global
emission sectors that will be used within the GOCART model. Mr.
Kucsera processed plume heights for the 2009 California Station
Fire and for large volcanic eruptions. He downloaded MISR data
from NASA data archive center and searched for eruptions that
may have been visible to the instrument. Once a case was found,
the eruption plume heights were determined from the data. For
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 39
the California Station Fire, the August 30, 2009 data fires from
the MISR instrument were found to have the best available view
of the fires. The plume heights of the observed fires were determined and these results were digitized for use in the NASA
NU-WRF model.
Additionally, Mr. Kucsera completed 30-year regional anthropogenic GOCART modeling simulations that covered the years 19802009. Simulations were made for the cases where no anthropogenic emissions over Europe and Russia were provided. GOCART
model modifications and revisions were made to handle regional
dust suppression and tagged runs. These 30-year model simulations were made where emissions were separately restricted
within the regions of central Asia, the Middle East, east Asia, the
Sahara, and the Sahel. A 2.5 deg. longitudinal x 2 deg. latitudinal
model resolution was used for all cases.
At the NASA JPL facility, Mr. Kucsera received hands-on training
with the MISR data processing tool (MINX). Two TB of MISR data
products were acquired, which he later ported on to a local data
server. This data contained six months’ worth of data for the
observational year of 2008. Amon Dow, a Morgan State undergraduate student, was brought onboard by USRA to assist in the
processing of satellite data. Mr. Kucsera acquired office space
onsite at GSFC, computer equipment, and established access to
group clustered workstations for him. Amon was trained on digitizing fire plumes from the retrieved images from the MISR instrument which resides onboard the TERRA satellite. In summer 2014
and beyond, Mr. Kucsera will be working with NASA-sponsored
summer students, and his work will continue on GOCART modeling simulations and analyses as well as Aura project data processing and analysis.
Dr. Michael Kurylo (sponsor: J. Rodriguez) supports several
national and international activities important to NASA’s Atmospheric Composition Focus Area in Earth Science, including his
participation in the programmatic leadership of the Network for
the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC) and
serving as NDACC liaison to various international projects. He
acts as a consultant to the SPARC (Stratosphere-troposphere
Processes And their Role in Climate) Project of the World Climate
Research Programme, to the Global Climate Observing System
(GCOS) Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN), and to the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on activities associated with the
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the
Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Further, he works in collaboration with scientists at the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the evaluation
of photochemical and kinetic data for national and international
assessments of changing atmospheric composition and for the
NASA/JPL Panel for Data Evaluation, and in studies of the atmospheric degradation of ozone- and climate-related trace gases. As
40 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
needed, he participates in special projects formulated under the
direction of NASA Headquarters.
As a co-author for Chapter 3 (“Evaluation of Atmospheric Loss
Processes”) in this SPARC study, Dr. Kurylo has played a key
role in analyzing and providing recommendations for the kinetic
and photolytic atmospheric loss parameters associated with the
targeted chemicals. He worked with the lead and co-authors in
finalizing chapter recommendations and supporting supplemental
material, and on making revisions to chapters and material in response to comments from the international reviewers. He served
as a reviewer of Chapter 1 (the Introduction) to the associated
SPARC Report. Dr. Kurylo worked extensively with one of the lead
authors in preparing a summary of the recommendations in the
SPARC report that differ from the NASA/JPL 2010 data evaluation along with their justification. This summary was presented to
the NASA/JPL Data Panel for their considered adoption and was
subsequently approved. He collaborated with one of the co-lead
authors to coordinate input from Chapter 3 of the SPARC Report
into Chapter 1 of the 2014 WMO/UNEP Ozone Assessment.
Dr. Kurylo has played a significant role in the development of
the 2014 WMO/UNEP Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, first in providing detailed input to the Assessment Co-Chairs
regarding assessment structure and contents, and second as a
contributor to Chapter 1 (“Update on Ozone-Depleting Substances
(ODSs) and Other Gases of Interest to the Montreal Protocol”).
For the latter, he compiled information on trace gas photochemical and kinetic processes that control the atmospheric burden of
such chemicals and help to define their atmospheric lifetimes.
He worked with industry representatives and members of the
Technical and Environmental Effects Panel for the Assessment
to identify new chemicals for inclusion in Chapter 1. After the
Assessment chapters underwent an extensive international peer
review, Dr. Kurylo worked with the Chapter 1 co-authors and
contributors on revising chapter text and tables, which involved an
extensive review of newly calculated seasonal and latitudinal atmospheric lifetimes for all trace gases addressed in the chapter.
At the request of the Assessment Co-Chairs, he provided a written
review of Chapter 5 (“Scenarios, Information, and Options for
Policymakers”) and subsequently participated in a review meeting
of all five chapters of the Assessment at which recommendations
were made for finalizing each chapter and for developing the key
chapter bullets that will be included in the Assessment for Policy
As an Emeritus Member of the NDACC Steering Committee, Dr.
Kurylo assists the current Co-Chairs and other Committee members in guiding future NDACC activities. To this end he completed
extensive edits and revisions to the 70-page NDACC Measurements and Analyses Directory and developed a synthesis of network measurement and analysis capabilities that have been lost
or diminished over the past several years, thereby helping to set
priorities for new or repositioned measurement capabilities. As an
adviser to the GRUAN Working Group on Atmospheric Reference
Observations in the areas of network organizational structure
and operations, he attended the 6th GRUAN Implementation and
Coordination Meeting, where he and one of the NDACC Co-Chairs
gave a presentation on NDACC and GRUAN collaborations as both
networks attempt to meet future challenges. Based on his NDACC
experience, Dr. Kurylo serves as an atmospheric observations
representative on the SPARC Scientific Steering Group (SSG).
In this capacity he provides recommendations to the Steering
Group in the area of systematic measurements as they pertain to
the data needs of various SPARC projects. At the recent SPARC
SSG meeting in New Zealand, he summarized current NDACC
capabilities, focusing on the implications of recent measurement
and analysis losses for SPARC and requesting input from SPARC
leadership for priorities in augmenting or replacing such diminished or lost capabilities. Finally, Dr. Kurylo served as the NDACC
interface to the SPARC/IO3C/IGACO/NDACC (SI2N) Initiative to
understand past changes in the vertical distribution of ozone and
teamed with NDACC Working Group representatives to encourage
NDACC measurements and analysis contributions to the Initiative.
He was a co-author of the first of three overview papers for the
Initiative, which provided a summary of available ozone profile
measurements and measurement capabilities. Going forward,
he will assist GRUAN leadership in finalizing GRUAN Report No.
3 (Outcomes of the GRUAN Expansion Workshop), based on the
white papers developed for that workshop to guide GRUAN expansion priorities. Dr. Kurylo was the lead author for the white paper
on GRUAN Design and Expansion Criteria to Meet the Needs of
Atmospheric Process Studies.
Dr. Kurylo continued to collaborate with NIST scientists in evaluating kinetic and photochemical data for atmospheric assessment
activities and on conducting laboratory studies of the reactivity between OH radicals and several atmospherically important
halogenated trace gases. He is a co-author on two journal articles
stemming from this work. Based on his recent work as a co-author of Chapter 3 in SPARC Report No. 6, and as a contributor to
Chapter 1 in the above-mentioned 2014 Ozone Assessment, Dr.
Kurylo has begun working on his contributions to the next release
by the NASA/JPL Panel for Data Evaluation. He has made extensive revisions to the 2010 NASA/JPL document to reflect reaction
rate recommendations stemming from the SPARC study and has
begun working with a NIST colleague in updating photochemical
and kinetics recommendations for many trace gases addressed
in Chapter 1 of the 2014 Ozone Assessment and including
many others that are not presently evaluated by the NASA/JPL
Data Panel. Finally, he has continued working with co-authors of
Chapter 3 in the SPARC Report in finalizing a research publication
drawing upon the activities conducted in this chapter. This year,
Dr. Kurylo will attend and participate in the 9th Meeting of Ozone
Research Managers (9th ORM) of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. He will present the
recommendations from the 8th ORM, which he chaired and has
agreed to be nominated as a Co-Chair of the 9th meeting.
Dr. Lok Lamsal (sponsor: N. Krotkov) develops and improves NO2
algorithms for OMI and other UV-VIS spectrometers, validates NO2
products, and applies NO2 products for scientific studies. Along
with the NASA OMI NO2 team, Dr. Lamsal has been working on
the development of the next version of OMI NO2 product. He was
involved in developing the GSFC NO2 spectral fitting algorithm,
evaluating the retrieved slant column densities with independent
retrievals from other groups, and calculating scattering weights
using VLIDORT. He assessed the impact of the new fitting algorithm in the retrievals of tropospheric and stratospheric NO2
columns. In addition, Dr. Lamsal compared the OMI tropospheric
NO2 product (OMNO2, Version 2.1) to ground-based measurements to assess the data quality, and to aircraft-based measurements, both to compare the retrieved column amounts and to
assess the sensitivity of OMI NO2 to the a priori profiles used in
the retrieval. Model profiles were used to estimate tropospheric
column amounts from in situ measurements of NO2 at ground-level. He also investigated the potential improvement of the retrievals that could be realized using a higher-resolution model, with
updated emissions inputs, as a source of a priori profiles.
Dr. Lamsal used in-situ observations and chemistry-transport
models to interpret OMI NO2 observations. He used OMI tropospheric NO2 columns and bottom-up NOx emissions in the GEOSChem model and CAMx regional model to infer top-down NOx
emissions. He derived ground-level concentrations from OMI for
application to estimate (a) global distribution of NO2 dry deposition and (b) the ratio of global organic matter to organic carbon. In
addition, he analyzed OMI measurements to estimate NOx trend.
This work resulted in several publications.
Since satellite retrievals of NO2 from OMPS wavelengths have not
been demonstrated yet, Dr. Lamsal applied the GSFC spectral
fitting algorithm to OMI measurements to retrieve NO2 from both
OMPS-covered UV (351-379 nm) and conventional visible (405465 nm) windows. He demonstrated that the OMPS wavelengths
can be used to retrieve NO2, but with decreased sensitivity compared to visible wavelengths. Retrieval sensitivity is dependent
on spectral contrast in the NO2 absorption coefficient and on the
scene reflectivity. He also adapted the spectral fitting algorithm
for OMPS measurements. The preliminary NO2 retrievals from
OMPS are similar to those from the UV window of OMI. The lower
OMPS spectral resolution is partially compensated by the higher
signal-to-noise ratio. Current OMPS measurements are affected
by the poor quality of the wavelength registration and radiometric
radiance-irradiance match, impacting NO2 retrievals. Improved
calibration along with modest research and improvements in the
spectral fitting algorithm will ensure an acceptable continuation of
the EOS OMI NO2 data record. To retrieve NO2 from the airborne
ACAM measurements, he conducted sensitivity studies of air
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 41
mass factor below and above aircraft to several retrieval parameters, including solar and viewing geometries, height of aircraft,
surface reflectivity, aerosols, and NO2 profile shape. The sensitivity studies using VLIDORT radiative transfer algorithm show that
the air mass factor above aircraft is weakly sensitive to most input
parameters, with the exception of solar zenith angle. Accurate
information in input parameters is critically important for air mass
factor below aircraft. This study allows for estimating uncertainties in the retrieval of NO2 from the ACAM instrument.
Dr. Qing Liang (sponsor: A. Douglass) provides expertise in tropospheric chemistry and the role of emissions in determining the
coupling between chemical composition and the climate system.
Current efforts involve extending the vertical domain for interactive chemistry to include a combined stratosphere-troposphere
chemistry model (the GMI Combo) in order to investigate issues
related to the role of ozone in the upper troposphere and lower
stratosphere on climate. Major achievements to date on the ACMAP Bromocarbons project include a completed analysis of four
model runs using the GEOSCCM model to examine the impact of
convective strength on the contribution of bromocarbons to the
stratospheric bromine. The results were summarized in a firstauthor paper that was accepted by Atmos. Chem. Phys. in April
2014. Dr. Liang was invited by Prof. Ross Salawitch to join the
mission science team for the NSF-funded CONTRAST mission, and
attended a pre-mission meeting in Boulder, CO last October and
gave an invited talk. She finished implementing tropospheric BrO
and Br fields provided by the Harvard GEOS-Chem group into the
NASA GEOSCCM model, and running simulations using MERRA
Replay fields for comparison with AURA OMI BrO measurements
in quantifying atmospheric BrO column in the troposphere and
stratosphere and their variabilities. She presented these results
at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, and published a related article in
Eos Trans. AGU. Currently, Dr. Liang is working on the implementation of all major bromine source gases in the GEOSCCM model for
a complete account of the BrO sources in the atmosphere to understand the model and satellite differences in total BrO column
in the atmosphere, in particular the tropical troposphere.
Dr. Liang acted as a contributing author for Chapter 1 of the 2014
WMO Ozone Assessment. In support of this assessment, Dr.
Liang has been running a 140-year emission-based simulation
using the NASA GEOSCCM V2 model with newly added emissionbased features for five major ozone depleting substances (ODS):
CFC-11, CFC-12, CFC-113, HCFC-22 and CH3CCl3. The run was
finished in Nov 2013 and the model output was submitted to the
CCM group archive. Also, she led a CCl4-modeling project in close
collaboration with Dr. Paul Newman (GSFC), Dr. Stefan Reimann
(SWISS EMPA), Drs. John Daniel and Brad Hall (NOAA). The work
involved included design and conduction of a detailed emission
and loss-based simulation for CCl4 from 1960-2017 (run is completed) and four 18-year sensitivity simulations (1995-2012), plus
an analysis of model results in understanding the sources and
sinks of CCl4. Two major achievements in the past year include
providing model analysis results to Dr. Reimann for an oral pre42 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
sentation at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, and a first-author paper
that was submitted to Geophys. Res. Lett. in Feb 2014 and has
received positive review comments. Dr. Liang is currently working
on the revision of the manuscript.
As the FAA ACCRI project continues, Dr. Liang collaborates with
Dr. Henry Selkirk in providing additional model runs for the FAAlead multi-model harmonization project to examine the impact of
aviation emission on surface ozone. The ACCRI-II project involves
coordinating with other modeling groups in simulation definition,
preparing input and output stream design for the needed model
run. More specifically, Dr. Liang has been preparing surface
emission of ozone precursors, surface boundary conditions of
long-lived greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances,
and the GEOS-5 MERRA meteorological fields as model input.
Model output includes preparing output scripts to save hourly O3
and precursors at the surface, in addition to the standard model
As work wraps up on the SPARC Lifetimes Assessment Report,
Dr. Liang has been working on two papers based on results from
Chapters 5 and 6 of the Lifetime Assessment, one that was coauthored with Dr. Susan Strahan and others and published in
Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres in March 2014,
and another that is currently in progress.
The research objective of Dr. Junhua Liu (sponsor: J. Rodriguez)
is to understand the processes affecting atmospheric composition in the troposphere and lower stratosphere, specifically the
sources, chemical evolution and transport pathways. Her current research focuses on quantifying the factors controlling the
observed interannual variations (IAV) and trends in tropospheric
O3 and precursors during the past 20 years and investigating their
interaction with the Earth’s climate. Her study focuses on a) the
extra-tropics of the Northern Hemisphere (NH), where most of the
ozonesonde and long-term surface ozone observations are available and b) the wave-1 ozone maximum region in the Southern
Hemisphere, off the coast of Africa/Asia, where models indicate
high stratospheric ozone input in the troposphere. Insights
gained from her analysis of the GMI CTM results will help the
chemistry-climate modeling (CCM) community to test the predictive capability of IAV in the tropospheric ozone in the CCM, which
has the same emission, chemistry and transport algorithms. Dr.
Liu has evaluated the GMI 20-year hindcast simulation based
data from selected ozonesondes from the mid-latitude regions
of the northern and southern hemispheres, GMAO-assimilated
column ozone based on OMI/MLS, and variable satellite observations (UARS/MLS, TOMS/MLS, and SUBV merged ozone data).
She is examining the stratospheric impact on tropospheric Ozone
IAV at these regions using several GMI hindcast sensitivity simulations and a stratospheric tracer simulation. She will explore and
quantify the effects of different controlling factors including STE,
dynamics and emissions over the mid-latitude of northern and
southern hemisphere.
Dr. Liu prepared an abstract for 2014 IGAC/SPARC CCMI workshop to be held in May 2014, and gave a talk at the CCMI planning meeting at Goddard in March 2014. She co-authored a
manuscript which has been accepted for publication in Earth’s
Future in April 2014. Work is in progress on a manuscript from the
results during Jan-May 2014 about the GMI CTM model evaluations and stratospheric impact on tropospheric ozone IAV over the
The research of Dr. Mark Olsen (sponsor: A. Douglass) focuses
on the analysis of stratosphere-troposphere exchange, transport
in the lower stratosphere and troposphere, and the coupling of
stratosphere and troposphere in both global atmospheric data
sets and output from global models. Eight years of OMI/MLS
analyses from the GMAO ozone assimilation system were used
to investigate the variability and trends in tropospheric column
ozone in the tropics to middle latitudes. Multiple linear regression
was used to examine the contribution of ENSO and the QBO to the
variance of the deseasonalized tropospheric column ozone. ENSO
has the greatest influence with a statistically significant explained
variance greater than 20% in a large equatorial region extending
from Africa to Central America. Other smaller regions with significant ENSO influence exist over North America, the Atlantic, and
southern and northern Pacific. The maximum influence occurs
in the equatorial western Pacific with an explained variance of
greater than 60%. The QBO explained variance is not statistically
significant over this time period, although the confounded variance explained by both QBO and ENSO is significant in the tropics
from the Indian Ocean through the Pacific.
The residual trends were examined by removing the QBO and
ENSO variability from the tropospheric ozone time series. Statistically significant trends from 4-11% per decade exist throughout
much of the tropics, with the maximum occurring in the Western
Pacific. Similar multiple regression analysis was done with output
from the GMI chemistry transport model (CTM). Compared to
the OMI/MLS analyses, the patterns of variances explained are
very similar over the same time period; however, the 1991-2012
simulated residual trends are much less at 2-6% per decade in
the tropics. This implies that the larger trends over the OMI/MLS
time period are not representative of the longer record.
The timing of the NH stratospheric final warming (SFW) and associated horizontal transport in the Goddard Chemistry Climate
Model (CCM) was compared to results derived from observations
and an isentropic transport model. The variability of the easterly winds, shortly after the SFW, was found to be less than the
observations; however, the impact on the horizontal transport was
similar to the observations. A trend in the extratropical stratospheric N2O was found in the CCM that was greater than can be
explained by emissions. This finding is supported by observations
that suggest changes in the stratospheric circulation.
Dr. Olsen is investigating the impact of stratospheric intrusions
on air quality and standards violations, and has found that the
timing of the events and boundary layer heights are particularly
important to the influence at the surface. The capability of simulating/forecasting events relative to model resolution is currently
being examined using output from the Goddard CCM, GMI CTM,
and ozone assimilation system. Additionally, an assessment of
NASA-supported tropospheric ozone products was completed
and published. These OMI and MLS products include trajectory
mapping, direct profile retrieval, and assimilation. Although all the
products are shown to be capable of measuring and monitoring
exceptional tropospheric ozone events, the assimilation product
is deemed superior for science applications due to greater spatial
coverage and better accounting for measurement errors. Among
other objectives in the coming year, Dr. Olsen will begin analyzing
the ozone distributions from data assimilation systems and OMI
column ozone observations relative to a jet/tropopause coordinate system, part of his work on a new Aura Science Team grant
awarded to (PI) Dr. Gloria Manney.
Dr. Cynthia Randles (sponsor: P. Colarco) investigates the
sensitivity of aerosol direct radiative forcing to (1) changes in
model resolution, (2) assumptions about aerosol optical properties, particularly the single scattering albedo, and (3) changes in
aerosol vertical distributions. She also investigates the effect of
biomass burning aerosol heating on temperature tendencies over
southern Africa using the GEOS-5 Data Assimilation System. As
part of her work with SEAC4RS, she evaluates the performance
of the Goddard Aerosol Assimilation System during the SEAC4RS
field campaign. Dr. Randles served as a constituent forecaster for
the SEAC4RS field deployment in Houston, TX from Aug 21 - Sept
12, 2013. From her work with this campaign, she presented her
evaluations of the NASA Goddard Aerosol Assimilation System
(GAAS) at the SEAC4RS science team meeting held in Boulder, CO
in April 2014. In the coming year, she will complete her evaluation of the SEAC4RS Reanalysis using satellite, ground-based and
in situ data from the field campaign; a paper manuscript will be
written on this topic. She also will contribute to a SEAC4RS case
study, led by Ralph Kahn, which will combine satellite, in situ, and
model data to paint a clearer picture of aerosol conditions.
From her work that focuses on studying the effect of biomass
burning aerosol heating on temperature tendencies, she has
delivered two posters, one at the AMS Meeting in February 2014,
and one at the AeroCom Meeting in Germany in September
2013. Dr. Randles will finalize simulations of biomass burning in
southern Africa and prepare a manuscript about the impacts of
these aerosols on temperature tendencies, as diagnosed using
the GEOS-5 data assimilation system.
For his work on Aura Validation and DISCOVER-AQ, Dr. Christian
Retscher (sponsor: K. Pickering) calibrates and analyzes the
PANDORA and CLEO spectrometer systems to measure trace
gases in the atmosphere (e.g., O3, SO2, HCHO, BrO, NO2, H2O) that
have absorption spectra in the 300 to 525 nm spectral range.
He also writes and deploys the necessary automated software
needed for Pandora operation and data analysis. Various ground
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 43
campaigns will be conducted that include
comparisons with reference ground-based
instruments. Twelve or more Pandoras
will be deployed at multiple sites during
individual campaigns. This past year, he
has provided ongoing support to the Aura
Validation Data Center (AVDC) by maintaining AVDC resources related to the Pandora
data sets, updating related file acquisition
and distribution systems, updating AVDC
databases, and providing support on database access and security.
Dr. Retscher has provided support to
processing Pandora instrument data. Next
to ongoing operational data processing, he
and his team have performed the reprocessing of historic data sets back to 2008.
This included the update and registration of calibration files in the operational
data processing scheme. He also finalized backlog processing of DISCOVER-AQ
related data, and performed optimization
to data processing codes and wrappers,
which allows for a more detailed analysis
of Pandora data.
Dr. Henry Selkirk (sponsor: A. Douglass)
works on a task that has three subtasks:
characterization of the vertical structure
and variability of water vapor and ozone in
the tropical upper troposphere and lower
stratosphere using balloon sondes; analysis of transport and moisture processes
in observations and models through (a)
examination of vertical and horizontal
transport processes in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, particularly in the tropics and subtropics and (b)
assessment of the representation of moist
processes in the GMI chemical transport
model and the GEOS CCM, a chemistry
climate model; and, scientific support of
NASA airborne missions including (a) the
Figure: Summary of dual ozone sonde flights, January-March 2014. Shown are both ascent
Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment
and descent mixing-ratio profiles of ozone, sulfur dioxide and potential temperature. At
(ATTREX) and (b) the Studies of Emissions
lower right are shown the integrated columns of SO2 to 15 km expressed in Dobson units
and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds
(Image: H. Selkirk)
and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys
(SEAC4RS). This past year, Dr. Selkirk
made two trips to Houston, TX to take part
lead a group of SEAC4RS colleagues in a study comparing upper
in the SEAC4RS field campaign, where he led the work of the
tropospheric/lower stratospheric structure over the tropics and
water vapor sounding project, completing 31 balloon soundings,
the subtropics using observations of water vapor, ozone and assoincluding 18 water vapor soundings. He supported flight planning
ciated quantities from Ticosonde and the 2013 SEAC4RS mission.
for the ER-2 and DC-8 as part of a team led by his colleague Dr.
In June 2013, NASA renewed funding for the Ticosonde project
Leonhard Pfister (NASA Ames Research Center). Dr. Selkirk will
44 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
under the proposal “TICOSONDE: Tropical Balloon Sonde Observations of Ozone, Water Vapor and Sulfur Dioxide for Continued
Support of Satellite Calibration and Validation Capabilities”.
Under this project, another four years of balloon sonde measurements of water vapor and ozone will be supported in Costa Rica.
(The Ticosonde project will also be making sonde measurements
of sulfur dioxide at Costa Rica over the next two years; these are
supported under Dr. Selkirk’s second GESTAR Task.) Dr. Selkirk
traveled to Costa Rica with Co-Investigator Gary Morris (Valparaiso
University) to review sounding practices and to confer with UCR
Co-I Dr. Jorge Andrés Diaz and his team on launch strategies. In
the past 12 months, the team at the University of Costa Rica
in San José launched 40 weekly balloon sondes as part of the
long-running Ticosonde project. These launches yielded 40 ozone
profiles and 8 water vapor profiles, bringing the totals since 2005
to 403 and 168, respectively. Going back to 2005, this is the longest continuing series of water vapor/ozone profiles in the tropics.
Ticosonde co-investigator Dr. Holger Vömel of the Deutscher Wetterdienst has developed a preliminary GRUAN CFH water vapor
product, and Dr. Selkirk has generated an 8-year climatology
based on this processing. Of particular interest to the scientific
community is the frequency distribution with height of relative
humidity with respect to ice and the incidence of supersaturation.
The seasons December-February (DJF) and June-August (JJA) display different structures with respect to relative humidity over ice.
In DJF, the upper troposphere (<16 km) is on average much drier
than in JJA, with the reverse being true in the next 4 km. In both
seasons, supersaturation events occur above 380 K, the nominal
lower bound of the stratospheric overworld.
Despite numerous challenges, the ATTREX Guam deployment in
early 2014 emerged as a scientific success. Six science flights
over the western tropical Pacific with the Global Hawk aircraft
were completed. Dr. Selkirk was in the field for the final 28 days
of the campaign, providing key flight planning and weather support to the Science Team. Four of the six flights were flown when
Dr. Selkirk was in the field. The ATTREX data are unique, for the
first time providing lengthy horizontal legs of water vapor measurements near the tropical tropopause in this key part of the
global climate system.
Dr. Selkirk was the Principal Investigator on a proposal where the
goal is to advance the understanding of the variability of water
vapor, clouds and trace gases in the upper troposphere and lower
stratosphere (UT/LS) and to improve the model simulation of
these critical elements of climate forcing. The proposed research
will use an integrated approach that makes use of extensive
suborbital and satellite data along with the state-of-the-art GEOS5 atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). The proposal
team that Dr. Selkirk assembled includes three Co-Investigators
and three Collaborators who are experts in the fields of modeling,
satellite measurements and retrievals, and aircraft data analysis.
Competition is expected to be very stiff; a selection decision is
expected before July 2014.
For this second task, Dr. Henry Selkirk (sponsor: J. Joiner) makes
dual ozonesonde measurements of SO2 in Costa Rica over a
two-year period. This work is done in collaboration with Dr. Gary
Morris of Valaparaiso University and Dr. Jorge Andres Diaz of the
Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). During the first year of the Ticosonde SO2 sonde program in Costa Rica, eleven successful dual
ozone sondes were launched from their site at the Universidad de
Costa Rica in San José, 35 km away from active Volcan Turrialba.
Figure 1 (p.44) is a summary of five dual ozonesondes launched
between January and March 2014. These data are being used
to validate SO2 retrievals from satellite instruments, including
OMI on Aura and the new OMPS instrument on the Suomi-NPP
satellite. Future plans include launching at least one dual ozone
sonde each month in the coming two years. A paper is in preparation reporting on the results for the first year’s soundings.
Mr. Stephen Steenrod (sponsor: J. Rodriguez) provides support
for the Global Modeling Initiative (GMI) investigations of chemical and dynamical aspects of the middle and lower atmosphere,
which involves the development, optimization, multiprocessing,
execution, and evaluation of atmospheric modeling codes; development of diagnostic software for analysis of model output and
satellite data; and development of general user software to allow
simple access to large central databases of model output. This
year, Mr. Steenrod’s work involved the expansion of the GMI-CTM
tracer suite by doubling the number of species simulated within
the tracer package. Several species were added, described by
the IGAC/SPARC Chemistry-Climate Model Initiative (CCMI), to
study various aspects of tropospheric transport characteristics,
especially looking at the remote influence of regional sources of
pollutants. Also added were species to study stratospheric-tropospheric mass exchange, the stratospheric residual circulation and
stratospheric influences on tropospheric chemistry. Mr. Steenrod
completed a simulation using this new suite for the 34-year CCMIsimulated hindcast period.
Mr. Steenrod also recoded the Kinetics Module Generator (KMG)
for the GMI chemical code to enable the use of the latest release
of IDL (version 8). KMG creates the Fortran code for the chemical mechanism of the GMI model using input files that list the
mechanism’s desired reactions and rates. This software had
broken several years ago when IDL dropped support for “projects”, so GMI needed access to outdated IDL software to update
the model’s chemical mechanism. He also provided various types
of support to many GMI model users, including support for details
of the model, its use and its output. Mr. Steenrod designed an
experiment to study the effects of doubling the horizontal resolution on the simulations and sensitivity tests for chemical reactions
and rates.
Significant effort was made to prepare the GMI model output for
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 45
submission to the CCMI repository, which involved consolidating
the various GMI output streams into the CCMI specified output
form. He added the capability in the GMI model to calculate the
effects of solar proton events on the full chemistry model and ran
a multi-year simulation that was recently included in a manuscript
accepted for publication. Mr. Steenrod conducted many test and
production runs of the tracer suite and full chemistry model. Over
the past year, he has identified some model errors, including one
that affected the handling of cloud optical depths plus an error in
a boundary condition file used to determine the surface vegetation type. Mr. Steenrod created many new boundary condition files
for model runs at various resolutions. Further, his administration
support included updating and securing the operating systems as
well as updating and maintaining the hardware on 20 of the Code
614 cluster computers in a timely and unobtrusive manner.
Work will continue on improving the GMI model and fixing any
issues that arise. There are current plans to implement two more
tracer species and to add the photolytic effects of stratospheric
aerosols, which are currently neglected. He plans to submit model
results to CCMI and run the tracer suite for the high-resolution full
chemistry period currently being run. His computer cluster group
leader activities will continue, especially the OS security updates
and installation of new and replacement hardware.
A priority of Dr. Susan Strahan (sponsor: J. Rodriguez) is the analysis of stratospheric and tropospheric observations to advance
the understanding of atmospheric transport and chemical processes and improve their representation in models. Results from
observational studies are used to evaluate NASA/GSFC models,
such as the Global Modeling Initiative (GMI) chemistry transport
model and the GEOS Chemistry-Climate Model (CCM), as well as
CCMs participating in international assessments. Another priority
is the management of GMI model simulations and output, including quality control and evaluation. The centerpiece of this year’s
research has been a high spatial resolution simulation of the GMI
chemistry and transport model (CTM) with meteorology from the
GMAO’s MERRA reanalysis from 2004-2013. One simulation was
run continuously for this period, while another series of short
simulations without heterogeneous chemical loss was integrated
for each hemisphere’s winter and spring each year. The purpose
of these experiments is to quantify polar ozone (O3) depletion and
its interannual variability in the Arctic and Antarctic. The comparison of the results of these experiments with satellite observations
of ozone and the long-lived trace gas nitrous oxide (N2O) has spun
off three studies, which are all related to the impact of stratospheric transport variations on composition and ozone depletion.
Two manuscripts are in preparation.
The first study found that the amount of ozone transported to
the Antarctic each year varies considerably and impacts the size
of the ozone hole. This effect is independent of the two other
well-known factors, chlorine abundance and lower stratospheric
46 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
temperature, that affect the size and depth of the hole. Very
weak transport of O3 to the Antarctic in 2011 produced one of
the largest ozone holes ever observed, just as large as the hole in
2006, a year with greater ozone transport. This work is important
because it identifies a way in which the ozone hole area can vary
that is not related to the expected area decrease due to declining chlorofluorocarbons. These results were reported in a press
release at the AGU Fall 2013 Meeting (
content/goddard/new-results-from-inside-the-ozone-hole/). A
second study discovered, through comparisons between the GMI
simulations and NASA satellite observations, that the amount
of inorganic chlorine (Cly) inside the Antarctic ozone hole has
previously unrecognized large interannual variations. There are
no measurements of total Cly in the lower stratosphere, but Cly
can be deduced by its correlation with N2O, a trace gas measured by the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS). Although a
Cly decline rate of ~0.7%/year was expected in the past decade
due to the impact of the Montreal Protocol, this study revealed
that stratospheric transport is responsible for Cly variations, both
positive and negative, that are ten times greater than this. This
transport-driven variability means that very large ozone holes are
likely to appear during very cold Antarctic winters over the next 20
years, even though stratospheric Cly levels are decreasing. The
third study used MLS N2O observations to discover that the cause
of the chlorine variability inside the Antarctic ozone hole was a
variation in middle stratospheric tropical mixing that occurred one
year earlier. The variations in mixing are caused by the QuasiBiennial Oscillation (QBO), a dynamical oscillation of tropical wind
direction confined to the deep tropics. The variations in mixing
affect southern midlatitude composition, and ultimately become
trapped in the Antarctic when the polar vortex forms in fall. Strong
descent inside the vortex transports the composition variability to
the Antarctic lower stratosphere where it impacts ozone depletion
in late winter. This study revealed a remarkable and unexpectedly
strong connection between a tropical dynamical process and polar chemistry that occurs on a timescale of one year. This work is
important to chemistry climate modeling because it identifies an
important but unrecognized cause of composition variability that
affects polar ozone depletion and hence the credibility of simulations of polar ozone recovery in the 21st century.
Dr. Strahan collaborated with scientists within and outside of
GSFC on the topics of tropospheric transport pathways (Dr. Darryn
Waugh, JHU), the evaluation of satellite-based methods for calculating tropospheric column O3 (Dr. Jerry Ziemke), the evaluation of
model-derived lifetimes of CFCs (Dr. Martyn Chipperfield, University of Leeds), and the impact of simulated response to increasing
greenhouse gases and decreasing CFCs on 21st century ozone
predictions (Dr. Anne Douglass, GSFC). Each of the four collaborations resulted in a publication in the Journal of Geophysical
In her role as GMI Project Manager, Dr. Strahan has continued to
oversee the integration of a number of multi-decadal ‘hindcast’
simulations that use MERRA meteorology in the GMI model to
understand how changing anthropogenic emissions have affected
tropospheric composition, especially the pollutants O3 and CO.
Three simulations of the period 1990-2012 using different emissions inputs have been integrated, including one at high spatial
resolution (1 deg. x1.25 deg.) to test the impact of resolution on
simulated tropospheric composition. Additionally, a simulation
spanning 1979-2012 has been integrated for the SPARC project
‘Chemistry Climate Modeling Initiative’ (CCMI).
In the coming year, Dr. Strahan’s highest priority is to publish the
results on chlorine variability inside the ozone hole and on the
QBO’s effect on the Antarctic composition. A study to quantify
interannual variability in the chemical and transport contributions to Arctic and Antarctic ozone depletion is planned, based on
observations and the GMI simulations with and without heterogeneous chemistry. Further investigation of the impact of the QBO
on stratospheric composition is also planned, which will utilize
a recent multi-decadal high-resolution simulation with MERRA
meteorology, the Goddard CCM, and stratospheric observations
from the 1990’s to the present. Quantifying the effect of the QBO
on stratospheric composition is essential for the identification
and attribution of the stratospheric circulation change caused by
increasing greenhouse gases.
Dr. Sarah Strode (sponsor: J. Rodriguez) contributes to the
three-dimensional modeling efforts, both for Chemical Transport
Models and Chemistry Climate Models, and carries out simulations for the Atmospheric Chemistry-Climate Model Intercomparison (ACCMI). She has used chemical transport model simulations
to examine the observed trends in surface ozone over the United
States. A comparison of model simulations with changing NOx,
CO, and hydrocarbon emissions with a simulation with fixed emissions confirms the role of pollution controls in the decreases in
surface ozone in the eastern U.S. This study also examines how
well a global model can capture the year-to-year variability seen
in surface observations in different seasons and regions of the
United States. Future work will investigate whether increasing
model resolution improves our ability to simulate the year-to-year
variability. Dr. Strode presented her work on trends and variability
in U.S. ozone at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting.
Dr. Strode also is analyzing hindcast model simulations of the last
decade to assess whether models can reproduce observed trends
in carbon monoxide and attribute their causes. For this analysis,
she compares chemical transport model simulations with changing versus fixed pollution emissions in order to separate the role
of emissions. She also compares chemical transport model simulations, which have prescribed meteorology based on atmospheric
reanalysis, with chemistry-climate model simulations. This comparison can help with understanding how atmospheric transport
impacts the modeled and observed trends. Dr. Strode will present
her work at the upcoming CCMI workshop in May 2014.
The atmospheric lifetime of methane, an important greenhouse
gas, depends on concentrations of OH. Dr. Strode is investigating
how model biases in factors such as humidity and ozone impact
the modeled concentration of OH, and hence the modeled methane lifetime. Her approach is to adjust individual variables that
affect OH to better match observations and then use a chemistryclimate model to quantify how the change impacts methane
lifetime. Dr. Strode presented work on this topic at the 2013
Chemistry-Climate Model Initiative Workshop.
A paper published in JGR by Dr. Strode and Dr. Steven Pawson
compares the interannual variability in carbon monoxide (CO) in
atmospheric model simulations with observations. It then uses
the model to estimate how much CO would change in different
regions of the atmosphere in response to changing emissions. A
comparison of the change due to emissions with the interannual
variability allows them to identify regions where the impact of
changing emissions could be detected most rapidly.
Dr. Ghassan Taha (sponsor: R. McPeters) leads the Aura Validation Data Center (AVDC) activities, supports various Aura and NPP
calibration and validation activities, maintains web content and
related system hardware management activities, and maintains
the administration of the center’s databases. During this past
year, after a hardware failure, Dr. Taha rebuilt the AVDC server
that hosts the satellite toolkit in order to continue producing subsatellite track predictions. He continued to maintain and update
the AVDC software, hardware and web page.
The AVDC continued to support various AURA and NPP teams and
a wide range of users. Dr. Taha expanded the data holdings of the
AVDC by adding OMPS, SBUV, and GOME-2 Level-2 and the subsatellite and ground station overpass data. He also reprocessed a
new version of the Generic Earth Observation Metadata (GEOMS)compliant balloonsondes and ground-based measurements and
updated the online AVDC database. The process of collecting and
harmonization is now automated. In addition, he reprocessed a
new version of the AVDC hdf5 files for ENVISAT data (SCIAMACHY,
GOMOS, and MIPAS) and will provide the overpass files afterward.
In support of SEAC4RS/SEACIONS, the AVDC provided OMPS,
MLS, and OMI Field of View (FOV) station predictions. Dr. Taha
also performed initial OMPS LP, NP, and MLS ozonesonde and water vapor data comparisons in support of the SEAC4RS/SEACIONS
field campaign. Further, the AVDC is coordinating the GEOMS and
data harmonization activities, and constantly updating the Table
Attribute Values and Template, as well as providing constant support to the data centers, which includes NDACC, and ESA’s EVDC
NORS projects as well as many stations’ principal investigators.
For this second task, Dr. Ghassan Taha (sponsor: G. Jaross)
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 47
investigates NPP OMPS Limb sensor data quality with the goal
of identifying improvements to current and future Limb sensors.
Research is focused on alternative approaches to data reduction
that have potential implications for sensor and algorithm design.
He also supports OMPS limb levels 1 and 2 development activities. Dr. Taha developed a cloud algorithm that detects all Polar
Mesospheric clouds (PMC’s), Polar stratospheric Clouds (PSC’s),
tropospheric clouds, and aerosol plumes, observed by OMPS LP.
Daily maps of clouds were produced, and early results are promising, but further tuning is required.
Dr. Taha analyzed different versions of OMPS level-1 radiances in
order to improve the quality of the measurements. He also provided High-Low Gains (HG-LG) tangent height offset zonal means
time series for the newly corrected radiances. Furthermore, he
analyzed OMPS level-1 HG and LG radiances stray light contribution and investigated an alternative methodology for the stray
light corrections. He also provided analysis and advice for various
sample tables uploaded to the instrument. Dr. Taha conducted a
detailed analysis of the official release of OMPS LP ozone profiles
version 1, and for the proposed version 2; he provided feedback
for potential improvements.
Dr. James Wang (sponsor: S. R. Kawa) researches the inverse
modeling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. He, his sponsor and
others conducted a simulation experiment for the planned NASA
ASCENDS active CO2 remote sensing mission and found that the
high-precision measurements would likely meet requirements for
improved understanding of long-term carbon sinks. Their regional
inverse modeling is well suited for quantifying the ability of the
high-density ASCENDS observations to constrain CO2 emission
and uptake at a higher resolution than other satellite data studies. They used a novel approach that relied on high-precision
Lagrangian transport modeling to calculate footprints describing
the sensitivity of satellite column measurements to surface fluxes
in upwind regions. Their comparison of flux uncertainty reductions with those from a companion global ASCENDS inversion on
a coarser grid demonstrates how quantitative results can depend
on inversion methodology. As lead author, Dr. Wang submitted a
paper on these results which has been accepted for publication
on the ACPD website and is undergoing peer review.
Dr. Wang also contributed to the writing of a white paper for the
planned NASA ASCENDS CO2 satellite mission. He gave an oral
presentation on his research at an ASCENDS workshop, and provided updated text and figures for the modeling chapter of the paper as well as comments on the drafts of two of the chapters. The
paper will be published and available for public comment sometime in mid-2014. This past year, his work resulted in both oral
and poster presentations at NASA Goddard and the 2013 AGU
Fall Meeting. Also for AGU, Dr. Wang contributed material and
comments for a research talk in the Atmospheric Science section.
The paper was “Observing System Simulations for ASCENDS:
Synthesizing Science Measurement Requirements”, by Stephan
48 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
R Kawa, et al. In May 2014, Dr. Wang presented a poster at the
Tenth International Workshop on Greenhouse Gas Measurements
from Space, held in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. Dr. Wang was a
Co-Investigator on two NASA ROSES grant proposals.
Going forward, Dr. Wang will complete the global CO2 inverse modeling for the entire analysis period, comparing results obtained
using different combinations of ground-based and GOSAT satellite
CO2 measurements, and by using other data sets for validation.
For his work on this second task, Dr. James Wang (sponsor: B.
Duncan) conducts modeling of interactive atmospheric methane,
carbon monoxide, and hydroxyl chemistry and long-term trends.
In 2014, Dr. Wang began his part of a 2012 NASA MAP-funded
project on modeling interactive atmospheric methane, carbon
monoxide, and hydroxyl chemistry and their long-term variability
and trends. He is working in collaboration with Dr. Bryan Duncan
(PI), and building upon the work of Elena Yegorova, who left GSFC
in 2013. Dr. Wang transferred the atmospheric chemistry and
climate model code to his own computing environment and has
been familiarizing himself with the model, and has continued the
development and testing of a wetland methane emission parameterization. Future work will involve multi-decadal historical simulations and compare them with observations. Later on, he will run
future simulations using IPCC emissions scenarios.
For Dr. Jerald Ziemke (sponsor: P. Newman), his major research
objectives are widespread: to develop a long-record (1979-current) of tropospheric and stratospheric ozone by combining v9
measurements from TOMS and OMI; to reprocess OMI/MLS
trajectory mapped global ozone measurements using OMTO3
v9 total ozone for OMI and MLS v3.3 ozone profile data upon
availability and validate these fields using ozonesondes and other
satellite ozone measurements; to evaluate the GMI model and
free-running CCM using ozone data sets to study ozone features
in these models from short to decadal time scales; to invoke calculations of the influence of stratosphere-troposphere exchange
(STE) using the trajectory mapped tropospheric and stratospheric
ozone data; to quantify the strengths and weaknesses of four
global ozone products: cloud slicing, trajectory mapping, data
assimilation, direct ozone profile retrieval, evaluations that will
involve comparisons with ozonesonde data (WOUDC, SHADOZ)
and aircraft mission ozone measurements; to evaluate ENSO
and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, and mid-latitude baroclinic
wave forcing for their effects on tropospheric and stratospheric
ozone in the measurements and models; to perform algorithm
maintenance and improvements to the trajectory mapped ozone
products; and to write journal papers relating to his research of
the measurements and models.
From his research on tropospheric ozone over the past year, Dr.
Ziemke has co-authored two papers, one that has been published
in Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., and one that is in press with BAMS,
as well as one that is in review with the journal Elementa. From
his research involving data measurements from Aura, he has coauthored one paper published in Journal of Geophysical Research
and another in review with JGR, and was lead author on a paper
in press with JGR. Work will continue with regards to producing
ozone data products, attending meetings, writing proposals, and
publishing science papers. He will write a new ACMAP proposal
in the upcoming months; his recently submitted NPP proposal is
currently under review.
Dr. Ludovic Brucker (sponsor: L. Koenig) conducts research to advance and validate satellite-derived properties of snow and ice on
Earth using space-based microwave radiometers and scatterometers. He was co-I on a NASA GSFC Science Innovation Fund to
utilize the Aquarius satellite observations over the polar regions.
To allow for an efficient use of the Aquarius data over the polar
regions, and to move forward our understanding of the L-band observations of ice sheet, sea ice, permafrost, and polar oceans, he
produced new weekly-polar-gridded products of Aquarius L-band
brightness temperature, L-band normalized radar cross section,
and sea surface salinity. These three data sets are produced on
the version 2.0 Equal-Area Scalable Earth (EASE) grid, with a grid
cell resolution of 36 km. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data
Center (NSIDC) will archive and distribute these new products.
These products were presented at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting in
San Francisco, CA and at the microRAD meeting in Pasadena, CA.
The Antarctic Plateau presents ideal characteristics to study the
relationship between microwave observations and snow/ice properties. It is also a promising target for radiometer calibration and
sensor inter-calibration, which are critical for applications requiring sub-kelvin accuracy, such as sea surface salinity retrievals.
Over the past year, Dr. Brucker analyzed the spaceborne Aquarius
L-band radiometric observations collected since August 2011 over
the Antarctic Plateau, and focused his research on their temporal
evolutions at Dome C. Over the Antarctic Plateau, Aquarius brightness temperatures (TBs) have a relatively low annual standard
deviation (0.2–0.9 K) where melting never occurs. However, the
analysis of the TB time series at Dome C revealed significant
variations (up to 2.5 K) in summer. First, these variations are
compared with a remote sensing grain index (GI) based on highfrequency (89 and 150 GHz) shallow-penetration TB channels.
Variations in the ratio of TBs observed at horizontal and vertical
polarizations are synchronous with GI changes. Second, Aquarius
TB variations are compared with the presence of hoar crystals on
the surface, identified using surface-based near-infrared photographs; in fact, the largest and longest changes in TBs correspond
to periods with hoar crystals on the surface. Therefore, in spite
of the deep penetration of the L-band radiation, evolutions of the
snow properties near the surface, which usually change rapidly
and irregularly, do influence L-band observations.
For the second year in a row, Dr. Brucker was deployed to
southeast Greenland to monitor the Greenland firn aquifer. This
campaign was jointly funded by NSF and NASA (PI: Dr. Forster, U.
of Utah). In spite of the extreme weather conditions in southeast
Greenland, which caused several weeks of delays, Dr. Brucker
and his teammate (Clément Miège) recorded 35 km of radar data,
drilled a shallow snow/firn core, and collected GPS measurements to monitor the ice velocity and flow direction.
Dr. Kelly Brunt (sponsor: T. Markus) provides continued support
to Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which includes the scientific planning for Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL), the airborne simulator of the laser altimeter set to fly on ICESat-2, and the coordination of a team (internal
and external to NASA Goddard) that is constructing an ICESat-2
calibration and validation plan using earth-based targets. Dr.
Brunt continues her activities as Co-Investigator for the ICESat-2
Science Definition Team (PI: Sinead Farrell) associated with postlaunch calibration and validation planning. For her work with
this team, she generates flight plans for the ICESat-2 airborne
simulator named MABEL. In September 2013, she participated in
a MABEL deployment based out of Langley, VA, aimed at surveying deciduous trees along the eastern coast. She is currently
working with the ICESat-2 Science Definition Team on generating
flight plans for an upcoming ICESat-2 MABEL field campaign in
Fairbanks, AK (July 2014). Dr. Brunt will then participate in the
ICESat-2 MABEL deployment, scheduled to occur in July/August
In December 2013, Dr. Brunt concluded work and participation in
two 2013 NASA Science Innovation Fund (SIF) awards: 1) Constraining Arctic ice sheet and sea ice melt by detecting seasonal
ocean freshening (PI: Lora Koenig), and 2) Tidal Loading and Surface Deformation along Ice Fractures: Insights from Earth Analogs
for Icy Satellite Processes (PI: Terry Hurford). In March 2014, Dr.
Brunt traveled to Juneau, AK and participated in the field component of an EPSCoR project titled, “Developing a strategy to evaluate and monitor outburst floods, Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska” (PI:
Jason Amundson, Univ of AK, Southeast). The team performed a
ground-based radar survey of a tributary to the Mendenhall Glacier, named Suicide Basin, known to produce sub-glacial outburst
flooding that affects parts of the city of Juneau.
Dr. Paolo de Matthaeis (sponsor: D. Le Vine) conducts work in
support of the Aquarius/SAC-D mission, whose goal is to provide
global sea surface salinity maps from space for study of largescale ocean processes and climate change. After the successful
launch of Aquarius in June 2011, calibration/validation (cal/val)
activities and data analyses are now taking place. Since July
2012, Dr. de Matthaeis has been leading the Aquarius RFI Working Group. In addition to the Radiometer RFI, he has also worked
on the Aquarius Scatterometer RFI Detection and Mitigation, and
his research has resulted in presentations and publications. He
has produced preliminary estimation of sea ice thickness using
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 49
Aquarius data, and this work also resulted in a presentation. During the past year, Dr. de Matthaeis has received two NASA awards
for his work as part of the Aquarius team. In July 2013, Dr. de
Matthaeis was appointed co-chair of the IEEE Geoscience and
Remote Sensing Frequency Allocations in Remote Sensing (FARS)
Technical Committee. He has been organizing RFI sessions for the
IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium
and for the 2014 XXXI URSI General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, where he will be chairing sessions at both symposiums.
Ms. Debbie Belvedere (sponsor D. Toll) supports scientific collaboration and coordination for NASA’s global water and energy
cycle research that answers to the emergence of cross-cutting
water-cycle research initiatives brought forth by inter-agency and
government-administrative science panels. Established in 2003,
NASA’s Energy and Water-cycle Study (NEWS) aims to document
and enable predictions of water and energy cycle consequences
of Earth system variability and change. However, the broad objectives of energy and water cycling-related climate research extend
well beyond the purview of any single agency or program, and
call for the support of many activities that are matched to each
agency’s respective roles and missions. To achieve the ultimate
goal of credible global change predictions and applications across
all significant scales, NASA seeks collaborations with other federal
and international agencies, the scientific community-at-large and
private industry. To these ends, NEWS working groups - Extremes,
Evaporation & Latent Heating, Climate Shift and Clouds and
Radiation - were created that identify integration needs and make
the needed connections to partner and coordinate with water and
energy cycle research and application activities at other organizations within NASA, nationally, and internationally. Ms. Belvedere
and colleagues also continue to work on the next steps for a
North American Water Program (NAWP).
After a successful NEWS Science Team Meeting in May 2013, Ms.
Belvedere along with Drs. Schiffer and Houser engaged 18 newly
awarded projects into NEWS. This included mapping projects to
science priorities, determining how best to measure the progress
of NEWS, and defining working groups and leads. The Extremes
working group is focused on understanding severe drought in the
U.S. The 2012 drought may not have been predictable as based
on current schemes employed for such purposes, but it may have
been anticipatable due to knowledge of key precursors, such as
favorable (remote) SST patterns, and reduced regional soil moisture and winter snow packs. Thus, they are examining the extent
to which the 2012 drought could have been anticipated and to
put recent severe droughts in perspective. The Climate Shift
working group’s goal is to better understand changes in the global
water cycle related to the “climate shift” which happened in approximately 1998. Questions to be researched: Is the shift real?
How consistent are the data sets and reanalyses in documenting
50 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
the shift in various aspects and parameters of the large-scale
water and energy cycles? Is there a consistency among the evidence? What data sets seem to be outliers and can we identify a
physical basis for their “problem(s)” that could suggest directions
for their improvement? To what extent is the cause of the change
in Pacific Decadal Variability (PDV) or AMO related? The Clouds
and Radiation working group is studying the relationships of
clouds, precipitation, and the energy budget of the stratocumulustopped boundary layers in the subtropical high region of the South
Pacific. The main goal is to provide a framework for NEWS members to work collaboratively on NEWS-related issues concerning
clouds and radiation. The Evaporation and Latent Heating working group is focusing on the latent heating and moisture transport
from over a region for the NEWS time period of 1998 – 2007,
with the initial proposed region the Atlantic basin and European
land area. The goals are to understand the moisture sources of
the precipitation over the European land area, and how these
are related to the Atlantic Basin, as well as to utilize NEWS data
products to assess the mean seasonal flux across the regions
boundaries and internally; inter-annual variability of the fluxes;
statistical distribution of events, which would provide a foundation
to an analysis of extremes and specific weather events, impact of
surface variability, and atmospheric transport variability; and an
analysis of trends in the transport over the time period.
Ms. Belvedere is working on and has contributed to two major
documents. The scientific framework for the Water and Energy
Cycle Focus Area is outlined in the NASA Earth Science Enterprise
Strategy document. It is one of six focus areas that define the scientific content of the NASA Earth Science Program, and includes
both research and technology components. The NEWS research
program is intended to yield significant advances and breakthroughs in hydrological cycle climate science. Progress in achieving its objectives is measured against its success in identifying
gaps and making significant advances. Ms. Belvedere has been
researching outstanding NEWS accomplishments, data products,
and 25 pages to date of NEWS publications with number cited for
each. The goal is to have the NEWS 10-Year Summary Document
completed by the upcoming NEWS Science Team Meeting in May
2014, and to ultimately submit the results as a BAMS paper. Additionally, NASA HQ seeks publications annually that will support
NASA’s contribution of scientific advancement against the following goal: demonstrate progress in quantifying the key reservoirs
and fluxes in the global water cycle and in improving models of
water cycle change and fresh water availability. Ms. Belvedere
and Dr. Schiffer assisted the HQ Program Manager by gathering
publications and outstanding highlights to prepare documentation
required by the ESS to review and evaluate the ESD progress for
FY13. Submitted in August 2013, the report included an overall summary, key accomplishments, description of high-impact
research results that appear in peer-reviewed literature and major
programmatic accomplishments.
In September 2013, Ms. Belvedere planned and held another
“Let’s Talk About Water” Event at NCEP that was followed by a
robust discussion. This documentary is being shown in order to
bring clarity and understanding to the water crisis and its solutions; facilitate conversation between experts and students; provide a forum for debate around water science and policy; promote
water and earth science education; and, engage general citizenry
in public policy and water solutions.
ing in the Americas, including efforts for capacity building and
user engagement within the U.S., and throughout Africa and Asia.
Additionally, a medium-term priority involved advancing the role
of Earth Observations in the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Security
nexus and assessing how NASA assets can help to address these
issues, as well as how Earth Observations can provide indicators
of different types, including those to monitor the implementation
of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.)
At the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, Ms. Belvedere engaged in a
productive discussion related to the NAWP, as a result of her
abstract that was part of an AGU Town Hall Meeting. Motivation
for a NAWP includes reliable hydroclimate predictions that are essential for assessing the availability and stresses on clean water
supplies; also, understanding and predicting water cycle extremes
in a changing climate has a direct application for preserving life,
environment and economic assets. The challenge for NAWP is to
provide skillful forecasts of extremes, weeks, seasons, years and
even decades in advance, that are useful for water resource management. To be successful, the Steering Committee and founding
members must place particular emphasis on seeking agency
and community support for NAWP, through seminars and meetings with scientists and agency Program Managers. This fall, Ms.
Belvedere will be attending the 7th International Scientific Conference on the Global Water and Energy cycle at the World Forum,
the Hague, the Netherlands, as well as other NEWS meetings and
the upcoming GEWEX Meeting.
Founded by the U.S. and other major countries, the GEO has been
working toward the goal of developing a Global Earth Observation
System of Systems (GEOSS) for the past decade. The GEO Water
Task currently involves well over 150 scientists and experts from
more than 20 nations. Mr. Lawford serves as the Point of Contact
for the Water Task and provided coordination for both international and US activities. He also chaired the Integrated Global Water
Cycle Observations (IGWCO) Community of Practice (CoP). The
CoP’s main effort was the preparation of a GEOSS Water Strategy
that will help to guide decisions on water-related topics over the
next decade. The initiative, launched by GEO and Committee on
Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), has been led generally by
the IGWCO CoP and specifically by Mr. Lawford as the chair of the
CoP’s Science Committee. During the past year, he organized
and chaired many teleconference calls, responded to hundreds
of emails related to this activity, continued to write and integrate
materials into a new draft report, and continued to edit the report.
The development and coordination of water resource applications
and Water Cycle activities within Group on Earth Observations
(GEO) and in the wider community is a broad-based activity that
requires substantial coordination and nurturing both outside and
within the U.S. A central role of this task involves maintaining the
coordination, reporting and synergies needed to advance NASA
data products and water activities both in international GEO and
in US GEO. Mr. Richard Lawford (sponsor: D. Toll) is involved in
developing applications of NASA data products in areas of water
resources management and other related societal benefit areas
and enhancing the coordination of GEO water cycle activities in areas of interest to NASA (e.g., drought, precipitation, soil moisture,
groundwater, evapotranspiration, capacity building, user engagement, etc.). Over the past year, specific priorities included the
following: advancing water cycle and applications topics that support NASA planned missions in precipitation, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and in the longer term, groundwater, and water level
measurements; supporting the development of the GEO infrastructure and coordination framework, particularly in the area of
Water and in ways that enhance NASA opportunities to contribute
to this framework; undertaking analysis of, and providing guidance on, the international context within which NASA water cycle
efforts are carried out, identifying opportunities where NASA activities could be beneficial and could have a positive impact, and
advising NASA and developing ways to address these opportunities; and, developing opportunities for training and capacity build-
Community inputs were obtained through Town Hall meetings,
science presentations and consultative seminars. During May
2013, Mr. Lawford organized and conducted a Town Hall meeting
on the GEOSS Water Strategy at the AGU in the Americas meeting
in Cancun, Mexico. Several experts from Latin America attended
this event, and some new examples were produced for the GEOSS
Water Strategy report. At this meeting, Mr. Lawford presented
a paper on the GEOSS Water Strategy as well as a paper he
co-authored with several NASA colleagues on the contributions
of NASA to capacity building in the Americas. In June 2013, he
participated in the GEO Work Planning Symposium in Geneva and
attended the Societal Benefits Implementation Board meeting
where he agreed to serve as the co-chair of the Board for the
coming year. As part of the efforts to facilitate the coordination of
GEO Capacity Building activities, he communicated with NASA and
NOAA colleagues regarding opportunities. In July 2013, he held
a seminar at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on the GEOSS
Water Strategy; from this seminar, several new contributions were
made, most notably by Dr. Christa Peters Lidard. Other Goddard
contributors to the report included Drs. Sushel Unninayar and
George Huffman, and David Toll. He also presented seminars
on the GEOSS Water Strategy that resulted in new inputs to the
report in October 2013 at the Centre National d’Études Spatiales
(CNES) in Toulouse, France and at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft
und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Bonn, Germany.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 51
Work continued on the GEOSS Water Strategy report and Executive Summary until December 2013 when the Executive Summary was submitted to JAXA for printing. Copies of the Executive
Summary were distributed at the GEO Summit in January 2014
in Geneva, Switzerland and via the mail. The penultimate draft of
the report was also copied to CDs and distributed at the Summit.
Mr. Lawford submitted the final GEOSS Water Strategy report to
JAXA in January 2014; JAXA then printed approximately 300 hard
copies and 1,000 CDs of the report to distribute to contributors
and managers who may be able to act on the report’s recommendations. In preparation for the January 2014 GEO Summit
in Geneva, Mr. Lawford assisted David Toll and Nancy Searby in
organizing a NASA-led Side Event on Space and Technology for
Water and presented a paper on Applications of satellites to Water Management, as well as a side event to announce the release
of the GEOSS Water Strategy report. He chaired a panel discussion on the agency responses to the report, and also helped set
up the Water Booth with JAXA colleagues, which involved obtaining at least five NASA videos, which were played in rotation at the
booth, and displaying posters from U.S. colleagues. Mr. Lawford
also provided substantial input to two videos being prepared for
the GEO Summit, including one on a journey of discovery related
to the water cycle (for the GEO Summit) and a second on capacity
building in Asia and Africa (for the GEO Plenary). He chaired two
sessions of the Societal Benefits Implementation Board, which
oversees the individual SBA tasks. In late April/early May 2014,
Mr. Lawford will attend the 2014 GEO Work Plan Symposium in
Geneva, where he will give three presentations, co-chair two sessions, and chair Societal Benefit Implementation Board meetings
before and after the Symposium.
The United States is one of the founding members of GEO. In
2013, the U.S. took steps to strengthen its national program in
water by establishing a GEO committee under the NSTC Committee of Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability.
As a result of this strengthened mandate, NASA has moved to
strengthen the U.S. GEO Water Task. During fall 2013, Mr. Lawford
helped to organize a preliminary U.S. GEO meeting and provided
an overview of the connections between both the U.S. and the
international GEO Water activities. He also helped to organize and
chaired a Town Hall meeting on the U.S. GEO water program at
the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting. Mr. Lawford provided input to presentations for an April 2014 U.S. GEO workshop, as well as input to a
framework and outline for a U.S. GEO Water Strategy/initiative.
Water, energy and food are interconnected in many ways. For example, food production uses 70% of the water that is consumed
by human activities while approximately 33% of the world’s
energy is consumed by farm operations, chemical fertilizers for
crops, crop harvesting, and food transportation and processing. In
order to support sustainability in water and energy, it is essential
to understand and manage the connections of water and energy
with the food sector. In May 2013, Mr. Lawford participated in
52 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
the Water in the Anthropocene conference in Bonn, Germany,
where he chaired three sessions and gave presentations in four
sessions, including a presentation on Earth Observations and
the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, introductory and summary presentations for the Global Catchment Initiative of GWSP, and a
multi-authored paper on NASA contributions to water security. In
November 2013 he served as a member of a high-level panel on
the Water-Energy-Food nexus at the Budapest Water conference
(an event hosted by the President of Hungary). He prepared two
articles for the December 2013 special issue of the COSUST journal, and contributed sections to two other articles. Mr. Lawford
will be a co-editor for a proposed special issue of the Sustainability Science journal. He represented EO and WEF activities on the
Global Water System Project SSC meeting in Bonn, Germany and
provided an update at its meeting in May 2013.
Based on discussions at the Water in the Anthropocene conference, Mr. Lawford worked with Dr. Cat Downy of the European
Space Agency (ESA)/IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere
Programme) and Lucie Pluschke of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to launch a workshop on Earth Observations and
the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus. The workshop was held
March 25-27, 2014 at FAO, Rome, Italy. In preparation for this
meeting, Mr. Lawford helped to set up a website for the conference, sent out invitations to GWSP contacts, developed a draft
of the workshop agenda and prepared questions for the various
breakout groups. At the workshop he made three presentations,
chaired two summary sessions involving interactions between the
breakout groups and developing a workshop summary overview.
He also participated in post-workshop meetings; at present, work
continues on the preparation of a workshop summary. Subsequently, in March 2014, Mr. Lawford was invited to develop a
proposal on behalf of the Global Water System Project (GWSP) for
Future Earth. The proposal involved expanding the role of Earth
Observations in the water, energy and food sectors based on
discussions at the EO in the WEF Security Nexus workshop held in
Rome, and GWSP submitted the proposal to Future Earth in early
April. If approved, the proposal will provide opportunities for NASA
participation, as well as contributions from GEWEX, FAO, ESA and
GEO, among others. Mr. Lawford contributed to planning the May
2014 GWSP-UNEP workshop on the WEF Nexus, where he will
chair a special session on Earth Observations and the Nexus. In
the coming year, he will work on developing the theme of Earth
Observations linkages to the Water-Energy-Food Nexus and to the
water aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals. This will
involve the development of a plan for a workshop on Earth Observations and Indicators.
NASA supplies a wide range of products for drought monitoring, many of which were available for use during the 2012 U.S.
drought. Through the application of drought products, there was
an opportunity to inventory and assess the drought, and Mr.
Lawford and several NASA colleagues co-authored a paper titled
“Using NASA Earth Observations to characterize the 2012 U.S.
Drought” based on a preliminary analysis that was published in
the GEWEX Newsletter. This past year, Mr. Lawford continued to
collaborate with Dr. Andrea Hernandez (LSSU) on the analysis of
the relationships between crop yields from the central U.S. and
western Canada and drought indices derived from satellite data.
Work on NASA application priorities including drought and evapotranspiration will continue, which will include developing analytical frameworks such as a framework for Earth Observations and
water resources decision making in the Red River Basin.
Also this past year, Mr. Lawford updated a proposal for a NASA
Indicators workshop. This workshop would focus on ways in which
NASA assets can be used more effectively in providing indicators
to support policy makers. He also has held discussions within
GEO on how satellite data and product development services
could be mobilized in support of Sustainable Development. These
discussions are targeted for the UN-Water post-2015 global goal
for water and will be the subject of a presentation at the April
2014 GEO Work Plan Symposium.
Dr. Cheng-Hsuan (Joseph) Lyu (sponsor: E. Kim) supports JPSS,
including NPP/ATMS and VIIRS pre-launch testing and post-launch
sensor calibration and validation and algorithm development,
as well as subsequent JPSS/ATMS sensors testing, characterization and/or algorithm development. He requested, downloaded
and processed ATMS RDR daily data and generated ATMS NEdT
monthly performance trending reports, which were sent to the
JPSS ATMS instrument manager and his sponsor Dr. Kim. Dr. Lyu
supported the following meetings: NPP weekly tag-up team meetings, biweekly ATMS SDR telecons, J1 TVAC review meetings with
the ATMS SDR team, the J1 ATMS Thermal Vacuum Testing briefings, and the ATMS Discrepancy Report Algorithm Team meetings.
He used TRMM/TMI to demonstrate problematic issues related to
the recent ATMS SDR code updates. He also completed the ATMS
Lunar Intrusion mitigation reports, which were later presented
in the April ATMS SDR review. Going forward, he will continue to
coordinate with all ATMS SDR team members, including NOAA/
STAR, MITLL, Space Dynamics Lab, NGAS and Raytheon to support JPSS/NPP/ATMS calibration and validation activities.
In spring 2014, Dr. Lyu went to NGES, in Azusa, LA, to support
and monitor JPSS 1 ATMS TVAC testing. The focus was to monitor
ATMS calibration and repeatability test. He helped to debug the
problem and confirmed that NGES collected sufficient data to validate the sensor performance. He will be visiting NGES again in
May and June 2014 to monitor J1 ATMS TVAC calibration testing.
Dr. Robert Schiffer (sponsor: D. Toll) serves as the Principal
Investigator for the NASA Grant covering the operation of the
International GEWEX Project Office (IGPO). The IGPO facilitates
and coordinates GEWEX research across GEWEX studies, activities, and products, oversees the implementation of recommendations given by the GEWEX Scientific Steering Group (SSG), and
plays a central role in the outreach of GEWEX through its website,
quarterly newsletter, and through the organization of science
conferences and workshops. IGPO also provides an interface
between GEWEX and other WCRP activities, as well as other
global environmental science programs and the space sciences.
Further, the Science and Technology Corporation (STC) provides
directly or indirectly the support required to meet the obligations
and responsibilities of IGPO and its Director.
The Global Energy and Water EXchanges (GEWEX) Project of the
World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) brings together a significant component of the world climate community in joint initiatives to advance understanding of the coupled hydrologic and atmospheric processes on a global scale and to apply global water
cycle understanding, observations, and models to the problems
of climate and water resources around the world. Scientists from
over 45 countries participate in major GEWEX projects aimed at
quantifying the hydrologic cycle and energy fluxes by means of
global measurements of atmospheric and surface properties;
modeling the global water cycle and its role in the climate system;
developing the ability to predict variations of global and regional
hydrologic processes and water resources and their response to
environmental change; and fostering the development of observational techniques, as well as data management and assimilation
systems. GEWEX activities involve understanding and modeling
land-atmosphere coupling and cloud system processes, global
data set development, water resource applications, and the effective use of Earth Observations in climate science.
In fall 2013, STC provided the support required to meet the
obligations and responsibilities of IGPO and its Director. This
included providing support to the GEWEX SSG and its Chair and
Vice-Chair; assisting with the coordination and implementation
of the Second Phase of GEWEX and plans for the Third Phase
(post-2013) through GEWEX Panels, Working Groups, and the
SSG; coordinating the formation of new Working Groups, Panels,
and related activities in areas of GEWEX requiring further support;
reporting on and assisting others in reporting on GEWEX activities
to international bodies and government agencies; providing direct
support to WCRP on all aspects of GEWEX and its implementation; implementing an outreach program for GEWEX via various
communication; representing GEWEX at scientific conferences
and other international forums through scientific presentations
and exhibitions; facilitating the development of cross-cutting
issues and the linkages of GEWEX with other programs such
as Future Earth (formerly ESSP, IGBP, IHDP and Diversitas) and
the IPCC; preparing and publishing meeting reports and other
documents relevant to GEWEX; managing travel requests from
scientists to attend GEWEX meetings; reviewing plans from WCRP
and other environmental programs, providing input to planning
documents for WCRP and other programs, and responding to
numerous requests for information about the GEWEX program
and data sets; and representing WCRP in the International Global
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 53
Water Cycle Observations Community of Practice (IGWCO-COP)
theme and Science Advisory Group through the provision of secretariat services and contributions to the GEO, where appropriate.
In planning for GEWEX Phase III, IGPO incorporated comments
received during the SSG meeting into the GEWEX Science Question 1 (Observations and Predictions of Precipitation) and GEWEX
Science Question 2 (Global Water Resource Systems) reports.
IGPO polled Panel members on their activities related to GSQ-3
(Monsoon and Extremes activities within GEWEX). The responses,
which were summarized and distributed in a white paper, will be
addressed by the WCRP Grand Challenge on Extremes.
The Director of IGPO co-chairs the International Soil Moisture
Working Group, and supports the ESA Water Cycle Multi-Mission
Observation Strategy (WACMOS) as the Chair of the Advisory
Board. He supports the European Union project Global Water
Scarcity Information Service (GLOWASIS) as a scientific advisor
and is a member of its Science Advisory Board. The Director of
IGPO also serves on the Executive Board of the Science Committee for the Integrated Global Water Cycle Observations (IGWCO)
Community of Practice (COP) of the GEO, and provides input to
the Water Cycle Societal Benefit Area under GEO. IGPO coordinated two small focused workshops to address GEWEX planning
for the WCRP Grand Challenges. A workshop on global water resource systems co-chaired by the GEWEX Hydroclimatology Panel
(GHP) and the Global Land/Atmosphere System Study (GLASS)
Panel was held in Saskatoon, Canada in June 2013. Another
workshop on the Observations and Precipitation Grand Challenge,
co-chaired by the GEWEX Data and Assessments Panel (GDAP)
and the Global Atmospheric System Studies (GASS) Panel, was
held in Ft. Collins, CO in late June 2013. As a part of this effort,
IGPO sent out invitations, assisted in developing the agendas, and
coordinated travel requests.
IGPO worked with the GEWEX Panel chairs and SSG Chair to
prepare the GEWEX presentation for the JSC meeting, which the
Director of IGPO attended along with the GEWEX SSG Chair. IGPO
organized, attended, and supported the 26th Session of the
GEWEX SSG, held in late October 2013 at NCAR, in Boulder, CO.
IGPO maintained the meeting website and assisted with travel
requests. At this meeting, IGPO presented a status report of the
GEWEX activities being coordinated by the office, prepared a list
of recommendations and actions from the meeting, compiled
the rapporteur reports and drafted the meeting report, which
will eventually be published as a WCRP document. Key activities
included reviewing results from recent workshops on the GEWEX
Science Questions and developing an implementation strategy for
advancing these topics.
With IGPO assistance, the GEWEX Hydroclimatology Panel (GHP)
led the advancement of the WCRP Grand Challenge and GEWEX
Science Questions related to the WCRP Water Strategy. A meeting
was organized that addressed the WCRP Global Grand Challenge
on Past and Future Changes in Water and the GEWEX Science
54 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Question on Global Water Resource Systems, and hosted by Dr.
Howard Wheater at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon,
Canada, in early June 2013. IGPO tracked all funding requests
and drafted a report that will form the basis for the Science and
Implementation Plan for this Grand Challenge by highlighting
knowledge gaps and specifying the steps to address them. Other
work involved planning for GEWEX Phase III (Post- 2013). IGPO
coordinated and participated in two workshops in June 2013 and
subsequently prepared, distributed for comment, and finalized
the reports and recommendations of these workshops that addressed GSQ-1 (Observations and Predictions of Precipitation)
and GSQ-2 (Global Water Resource Systems). Additionally, IGPO
coordinated a two-day science and implementation workshop held
in mid-July 2013 in Reading, UK that focused on developing a
draft plan for a GHP Regional Hydroclimate Project (RHP) related
to the Hydrology of the Lake Victorian Basin (HyVic). Agenda highlights were sessions on issues and impacts of the hydrological
cycle of the Lake Victoria Basin region associated with extremes
(e.g., floods and droughts), the water and energy budget, and
hydrological applications, as well as other topics relevant to capacity building and education. After this HyVic planning meeting,
participants agreed that there was enough international interest
to form a HyVic Regional Hydroclimate Project (RHP). IGPO supported the formation of a HyVic International Planning Committee
(IPC); the first IPC meeting was held as a side event during the
African Climate Conference 2013, held in mid-October 2013 in
Arusha, Tanzania, where the IGPO Director presented a poster
on the GEWEX Science Questions and African climate research.
IGPO worked with the local organizer from the University of Rio de
Janeiro for joint GDAP and GHP meetings held in Rio de Janeiro in
early September 2013. These meetings included joint GHP/GDAP
sessions, individual panel sessions, and a two-day meeting with
local and regional scientists on topics of importance to society
and climate services in Brazil. Members of GHP and GDAP examined issues related to the panel roles in GEWEX, as well as shared
interests in data development and validation.
IGPO is leading the planning for the 7th International GEWEX Scientific Conference on the Global Energy and Water Cycle and Associated Meetings, and chairing the Conference Local Organizing
Committee, which is composed of representatives from Wageningen University, WCRP, NOAA, and IGPO. IGPO has finalized the
program and conference themes in coordination with the conference co-chairs and GEWEX panel chairs, as well as the science
committees and lodging arrangements. IGPO has developed a
conference budget and sponsorship package; many national and
international agencies have expressed interest in sponsoring the
conference. In coordination with the Wageningen University LOC
member, IGPO is investigating keynote speakers and pursuing
agency and university funding for the Conference. The Conference
sessions were finalized by the conveners in November and announced, along with a call for abstracts, in the GEWEX newsletter.
IGPO placed calls for abstracts in the Bulletin of the American Me-
teorological Society and the AGU newsletter, EOS. As a part of the
planning for this Conference and future events, IGPO contacted
the Young Hydrologic Society (YHS), a newly developed network for
young scientists in the field of hydrology, regarding collaboration
with GEWEX, including exchange of information (on internships,
meetings, awards, activities, etc.), a mentorship program, and
the involvement of early career scientists at international events
and summer schools. IGPO hopes to engage the YHS members in
supporting and organizing GEWEX workshops, having them report
from workshops, and write scientific articles related to GEWEX.
IGPO assisted with the preparation of the GHP annual report to
the GEWEX SSG; prepared the report of the GHP Business meeting, and drafted a GEWEX Newsletter article summarizing the
outcome of the meeting; presented a brief talk on the proposed
HyVic RHP at the GEOSS Joint Asia-Africa Water Cycle Symposium; began action to coordinate rotation of membership of the
GHP in accordance with Panel Terms of Reference and GEWEX
standard practices. IGPO develops, publishes, and distributes
GEWEX News, a quarterly published newsletter with a distribution
of approximately 2,000 (past issues are available on the GEWEX
website). The August issue announced the call for abstracts and
provided descriptions of sessions for the 7th International Scientific Conference on the Global Water and Energy Cycle to be held
July 14-17, 2014 at the World Forum in The Hague, The Netherlands. The issue also featured results from the GEWEX cloud
assessment, and activities of GHP projects, such as BALTEX and
HyVic, and a new crosscutting project on short timescale precipitation extremes.
Periodically IGPO distributes a GEWEX electronic newsletter that
includes recent news of interest to the GEWEX community that
is time sensitive, including calls for papers and research and
position announcements. IGPO hosts, maintains, and updates the
GEWEX website, which provides recent GEWEX science results,
overviews of the structure and organization of GEWEX and its projects, access to GEWEX reports and publications and GEWEX data
sets, updates on recent and planned activities, and a calendar of
project meetings and conferences. IGPO was involved in the modernization and update of the GEWEX logo design, which has been
finalized. The GEWEX website is being revamped into a responsive
design that is easy to read on tablets and cell phones. In addition,
IGPO is developing a stand-alone website to handle the registration, collection of abstracts, and requests for travel funding for
GEWEX conferences and meetings. As a member of the WCRP
Communications Team, IGPO participates in periodic strategy
teleconferences, reviews reports, and updates databases. WCRP
sent the IGPO 800 copies of the hardbound book, “Climate Science for Serving Society: Research, Modeling and Prediction Priorities,” which were mailed to the U.S. and Canadian participants
of the WCRP Open Science Conference held in October 2011. The
book contains WCRP research priorities that emerged from the
Conference. After the conference, IGPO added the presentations
to the conference website.
The Director of IGPO co-chaired the International Soil Moisture
Working Group, one of the drivers in establishing the global soil
moisture in-situ network, and supports the ESA Water Cycle
Multi-Mission Observation Strategy as the Chair of the Advisory
Board. He supports the European Union project GLOWASIS as a
scientific advisor and as a member of its Science Advisory Board.
As an organizing committee member of the ESA/EUMETSAT/
GEWEX/CEOS Satellite Soil Moisture Validation and Application
Workshop, the Director of IGPO participated in the workshop held
July 1-3, 2013 at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy. Furthermore, the IGPO
Director serves on the Executive Board of the Science Committee
for the IGWCO CoP of the GEO, and provides input to the Water
Cycle Societal Benefit Area under GEO; serves on the Board of the
Helmholz Alliance as a user group representative; and serves on
the Board of the FP7 Project Earth2Observe Project.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, GEWEX and CLIVAR co-sponsored
a workshop on the use of GRACE data to monitor, simulate, and
understand ongoing changes in the Earth’s hydrosphere and
water cycle that was held in mid-July 2013 in Los Angeles, CA.
Additionally, IGPO and the CLIVAR Project Office conduct monthly
teleconferences to review and discuss the coordination of their
collaborative activities. IGPO is supporting the development of a
new CLIVAR/GEWEX task group on extreme weather and climate
that was requested by the JSC.
Over the past year, IGPO staff supported or attended approximately 15 meetings; at several, an IGPO staff member gave a
presentation or talk. IGPO also is assisting the interim BSRN
project manager in making arrangements for the next BSRN
meeting, which is to be held at the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC) of the Italian National Research Council
(CNR) in Bologna, Italy from May 26-30, 2014. Looking ahead,
GEWEX summer sessions are being organized at Delft University
of Technology from July 10-12, 2014 on water and radiation topics, and IGPO is assisting the organizers in finding sponsors and
investigating transportation options for the students.
Dr. Robert Schiffer (sponsor: D. Toll) works under another task
wherein he provides general technical and managerial support
and assistance to the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters, specifically GEWEX, the NASA Energy and Water Study
(NEWS), and the North American Water Program (NAWP). For
NEWS, he supported the planning of the May 2014 NEWS Science Team meeting, the oversight and coordination of NEWS
Science Working Groups (Climate Shift, Energy Cycle, Clouds and
Radiation, Drought and Flood Extremes), the responses to NASA
HQ requests, including assistance in compiling the 2013 GPRA
report, the organization of Workshops on Water Cycle Missions
and the implementation of the peer review process for the current
Water Cycle ROSES solicitation.
Dr. Schiffer also assisted with coordinating the planning for the
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 55
the NAWP through development of documentation to be used for
soliciting Federal Agency support. The objective of NAWP is to
entrain, integrate and coordinate the vast array of interdisciplinary
observational and prediction resources available to significantly
advance skill in predicting as well as assessing and managing
variability and changes in North American water resources, as
an integral part of the global climate system. The mission is to
advance measurement and prediction of North American energy
and water variations, trends, and extremes, thereby providing
scientific underpinnings of future climate services and water
resource reliability. NAWP would exploit the vast North American
observation networks to understand a wide variety of regional climates and enable science, technology and solution transferability
across these regions. NAWP would build upon previous North
American contributions to GEWEX, but will include the broader
climate, carbon, ecology, and decision communities. As such, it
will address more than just the physical Earth System and include
human impacts and infrastructure; NAWP is expected to provide
an integrating continental scale framework for both large-scale
studies, and basin and field-scale projects.
Mr. Thomas Stanley (sponsor: D. Kirschbaum) has been working
on the development of a landslide susceptibility map and global
landslide inventory in support of The Landslide Hazard Assessment and Forecasting System in Mesoamerica, “a straightforward, easily-interpreted set of landslide hazard assessment and
forecasting products available in near-real time for SERVIR-Mesoamerica”. To compile this map and inventory, media reports from
around the world were examined for information about landslides,
specifically data such as location, time, casualties, size, and spatial uncertainty. This information is currently being developed into
an interactive web database by Vightel Corporation. The first press
coverage of this inventory can be found at: As mentioned in the
National Geographic article, “The March 2014 landslide in Oso,
Washington, called attention to the lack of a national system to
monitor landslide data.”
One component of a nearly real-time landslide model currently
under development is TRMM precipitation data (to be replaced by
GPM products in the future). Another is a landslide susceptibility
map that represents relatively static risk factors. The first version
of this map was completed in December 2013, and is currently
being evaluated prior to the creation of a second version. Mr.
Stanley’s upcoming work will include an evaluation of performance of a combined static/dynamic landslide model for Central
America, and he plans to develop a first-draft susceptibility map
for the Himalayan Region. He will also work on creating a global
inventory of landslides that occur in 2014.
Dr. Ally M. Toure (sponsor: M. Rodell) is involved in a project in
which the primary goal is to develop an optimized approach for
56 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
merging satellite observations of the MODIS snow cover, the
Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing
System (AMSR-E) brightness temperature (Tb), and the GRACE terrestrial water storage change to generate spatially and temporally
continuous global snow water equivalent fields at high resolutions. Over the past year, Dr. Toure implemented a coupling of the
Community Land Model version 04 with the Microwave Emission
Model of Layered Snowpacks (MEMLS) to simulate snow Tb. The
coupling constituted the first step toward assimilating the Tb
into CLM4 using the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART)
developed at the NCAR. CLM4 snow model is a one-dimensional
vertical multi-layer snow model which simulates processes such
as snow accumulation, depletion, densification, metamorphism,
and percolation and refreezing of water. The snow radiative
transfer model, MEMLS, was used as an observational operator to
predict Tb observations. The snow radiative transfer model used
CLM4 snow model outputs including each layer of snow, temperature, thickness, density, liquid water content, and effective grain
size. Snow Tbs were computed at frequencies corresponding to
that of the AMSR-E (6.9 GHz, 10.7 GHz, 18.7 GHz, 23.8 GHz, 36.5
GHz, and 89.0 GHz). The main contributions to the snow microwave emission measured by a spaceborne radiometer include:
1) upward soil microwave emission; 2) the contribution from the
snowpack (emission/scattering); 3) the combined contribution
from the canopy and the snowpack, 4) contributions from the
forest canopy; 5) contributions from the atmosphere. MEMLS
simulates the first two contributions. In order to account for the
last three contributions, Dr. Toure incorporated atmosphere and
vegetation microwave transmissivity models into the MEMLS
to improve prediction of snow brightness temperature at the
top of the atmosphere. The predicted Tbs were then assessed
against AMSR-E Tb observations for the Northern Hemisphere
during 2002-2010. The results showed that the predicted Tbs
were unbiased in areas with low and moderate snow depth (e.g.
Canadian, US Prairies and Eastern Siberia) and have high bias in
areas with deep snowpack and dense forest cover, and complex
topography (e.g. Quebec, Southern Russia, Rocky Mountain and
Tibetan Plateau). Additionally, Dr. Toure worked with collaborators at NCAR to implement snow radiance assimilation into CLM4
through the NCAR DART. Tests of the implementation performed
in some areas of Alaska with winter snow cover (October to April)
have demonstrated promising results. Future plans include validating the assimilation results by comparing to the MODIS snow
cover fraction (SCF), the Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice
Mapping System (IMS) snow cover, the Canadian Meteorological
Center (CMC) daily snow analysis products, the cooperative stations (COOP), snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) SWE observations,
the European Space Agency (ESA) snow water equivalent product (GlobSnow), and snow depth observations derived from the
Global Positioning System reflection data from the Plate Boundary
Observatory water project (PBO H2O).
output using various sources of independent observations including 1) the MODIS/Terra daily SCF, 2)
the IMS snow cover data, 3) the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) daily snow depth and snow
water equivalent (SWE) estimates, 4) the snowpack
telemetry (SNOTEL) SWE, and 5) the Cooperative
Station snow depth. The results showed agreement between CLM4 and MODIS SCF observations
and CLM4 with IMS snow cover product, especially
in February when snow cover extent was at its
maximum. Large discrepancies between the model
and the observations were found in areas with deep
snow and complex topography. The paper is currently being reviewed by co-authors.
A paper by Dr. Toure presents the assessment CLM4 snow model
In the coming months, the winners of the GPM Anime Charac-
As Education Specialist for GPM, Ms. Kristen Weaver (sponsor: D. Kirschbaum) manages and supports
multiple projects within the GPM Education/Public
Outreach portfolio. She develops new Digital Learning Network events, and supports teacher workshops, reviews lesson plans for Master Teachers,
develops and implements outreach activities, works
with GPM Student Ambassadors, and participates
in GPM E/PO-related conferences, presentations,
and workshops.
This past year, from a LEGO model of the Global
Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission Core
Observatory created by the Mountaineer Area Robotics program, Ms. Weaver developed an instruction booklet for building the model with embedded
information about the technology and engineering
behind the GPM satellite, links to videos, and educational activities.
Ms. Weaver participated in several GPM-related
outreach events, such as the education tables that
displayed information about the science and technology of GPM at the Rockville Science Day on April
6th (4,000 attendees), at AwesomeCon (40,000
attendees), at Earth Day at Union Station; estimated
at least several thousand), and at the USA Science and Engineering Festival (325,000 attendees).
For this year’s Take Your Child to Work Day at Goddard, held April
24, 2014, the GPM E/PO team, in collaboration with the Goddard
Office of Communication, hosted Goddard employees and their
children at the Visitor Center. Activities included viewing a live
downlink from the International Space Station, a presentation
by GPM Applications Scientist Dr. Dalia Kirschbaum, and various
hands-on activities. Attendance at the event was over 600 adults
and children throughout the day.
ter Challenge from 2013 will be used to create stories to teach
students about the science, technology and applications of GPM
and its data. Also, several teacher workshops are planned for the
summer in which the GPM E/PO team will participate by providing programming, including for the Pennsylvania Multiregional
Science and Mathematics Partnership at Goddard Space Flight
Center in June, and in collaboration with the SMAP mission at
Wallops Flight Facility in July. Finally, an article about the GPM
Rain EnGAUGE program submitted to The Earth Scientist, the journal of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, should be
appearing in the June issue.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 57
Dr. Assaf Anyamba (sponsor: C. Tucker) conducts research using
time-series satellite vegetation index measurements from various satellite instruments; focuses on land surface response to
interannual climate variability associated with El Niño/Southern
Oscillation (ENSO), drought pattern analysis; and examines longterm trends and dynamics of vegetation patterns, development
of long-term data records (LTDRs) of the biosphere and links between climate variability and vector-borne disease outbreaks. He
leads and develops research analysis and applications development for global agricultural and drought monitoring for the USDA
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), climate variability and vectorborne disease prediction mapping, and works in conjunction with
the USDA Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology
(CMAVE) and the FDA.
Dr. Anyamba and his team updated the Global Inventory Modeling
and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) analysis of Sahelian vegetation
dynamics and trends using the normalized difference vegetation
index (NDVI; version 3g) 1981 to 2012 data set. They compared
the annual NDIV3g and July-to-October growing season averages
with the three rainfall data sets: the Africa Rainfall Climatology
from 1983 to 2012, the Variability Analyses of Surface Climate
Observations Version-1.1 from 1951 to 2000, and the Nicholson
ground-station precipitation rainfall data from 1981 to 1994.
They also utilized the Nicholson ground-station annual precipitation data to determine the reliability of the two continental
precipitation data sets for specific locations and specific times,
extrapolate these confirmed relationships over the Sahelian Zone
from 1983 to 2012 with the Africa Rainfall Climatology, and then
place these zonal findings within the 1951 to 2000 record of the
Variability Analyses of Surface Climate Observations Version-1.1
precipitation data set. They confirmed that the extreme nature of
the 1984–1985 Sahelian drought, a signature event that marked
the minima during the 1980s desiccation period followed within
ten years by near-maxima rainfall event in 1994 and positive
departures is NDVI, marking the beginning of predominantly
wetter conditions that have persisted to 2012. They also showed
the NDVI3g data capture “effective” rainfall, the rainfall that is
utilized by plants to grow, as compared to rainfall that evaporates
or is runoff. Using the effective rainfall concept, they estimated
that average effective rainfall for the entire Sahelian Zone for the
1984 extreme drought was 223 mm/yr as compared to 406 mm/
yr during the 1994 wet period. They concluded that NDVI3g data
can used as a proxy for analyzing and interpreting decadal-scale
land surface variability and trends over semi-arid lands. The
results of this work were published in Remote Sensing as part
of the Special Issue Monitoring Global Vegetation with AVHRR
NDVI3g Data (1981-2011).
Dr. Anyamba and his multidisciplinary team from USDA/ARS
and USDA/FAS analyzed and documented significant worldwide
weather anomalies that affected agriculture and vector-borne dis58 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
ACMAP research project through
analysis of ozone and water vapor
from 3D models and observations,
and supported the ACCRI (Aviation
Climate Change Research Initiative) research program (Dr. Henry
Selkirk, PI), providing his expertise
in the studies of modeling aviation
climate impact. Dr. Damoah also
was involved in NASA’s field flight
measurement, Airborne Tropical
TRopopause EXperiment (ATTREX),
providing his valuable knowledge in
meteorological and tracer transport
forecasts in the flight planning. This
past year, Dr. Damoah participated
in the SEAC4RS field experiment as a
member of the flight planning team.
ease outbreaks during the 2010-2012 period. They used 20002012 vegetation index and land surface temperature data from
NASA’s satellite-based MODIS to map the magnitude and extent
of these anomalies for diverse regions including the continental
United States, Russia, East Africa, Southern Africa, and Australia. They demonstrated that significant shifts in temperature
and/or precipitation significant impacts on vegetation patterns
with attendant consequences for agriculture and public health.
Weather extremes resulted in excessive rainfall and flooding as
well as severe drought, which caused ~10-80% variation in major
agricultural commodity production (including wheat, corn, cotton, sorghum) and created exceptional conditions for extensive
mosquito-borne disease outbreaks of dengue, Rift Valley fever,
Murray Valley encephalitis, and West Nile fever. Analysis of MODIS
data provided a standardized method for quantifying the extreme
weather anomalies observed during this period. They concluded
that assessments of land surface conditions from satellite-based
systems such as MODIS can be a valuable tool in national, regional, and global weather impact determinations. Results from
this work were published in PLOS One and featured on Simple
Climate Blog.
Dr. Richard Damoah worked under two tasks this past year
(sponsors: C. Tucker and A. Douglass). He supports the FDA’s
interagency agreement between scientists at FDA’s Center for
Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CSFAN) and NASA Goddard
Space Flight Center on designing, building and operating a Geospatial Risk Assessment Model of environmental contamination
of produce by enteric pathogens. The model was designed and
tested over California, where ~80% of all produce consumed in
the U.S. are grown. With his expertise in meteorology and climate,
his primary role was to investigate the met/climatic variables associated with Pathogen activity. He also supports CHORI (Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland); this effort is
led by Dr. Anyamba is to investigate the burden of Chikungunya
virus (CHIKV) and Dengue virus (DENV) transmission, infection
and disease in Kenya. Dr. Damoah’s role is to extract, process
and analyze NOAA’s ARC (African Rainfall Climatology) rainfall
data at the study locations and make the data available to the
project members. As part of CHORI he has constructed a system
for the analysis of NOAA’s ARC rainfall data (see http://acdb-ext. Dr. Damoah
presented his analysis of Relative Humidity and Pathogen detection to the FDA as part of the Geospatial Risk Assessment Model
of environmental contamination of produce by enteric pathogens.
In the coming year, Dr. Damoah will continue his analysis of RH
and pathogen detection as part of the FDA’s Geospatial Risk Assessment Model of environmental contamination by pathogens.
He will also update the system he constructed for the analysis of
NOAA’s ARC rainfall data as part of CHORI, and together with Dr.
Anyamba (PI) he will travel to the field in Kenya in August 2014.
For his other task, which ended mid-year, he supported the
In early 2014, Dr. Damoah took a
teaching position at Morgan State
University. In addition, he has
helped Morgan State University
purchase a weather station to aid in
a meteorology course he has developed for fall 2014.
Figure: Time-longitude section of monthly NDVI from July 1981 to December 2012 averaged
between 10 deg. N to 20 deg. N from 18 deg. W to 40 deg. E. (A) monthly evolution of NDVI
and (B) the corresponding monthly NDVI z-scores showing dry conditions in the 1980s and
predominantly greener than normal conditions from 1994 to 2012. (Credit: A. Anyamba)
Mr. Thomas Eck (sponsor: B. Holben) investigates the optical properties of atmospheric aerosols within
AERONET as they relate to being
applied to studies of the effects of
aerosols on the atmospheric radiation balance and climate, and for the
validation of satellite retrievals of
aerosol properties. His work centers
on analyzing measurements made by
automatic sun-sky scanning radiometers that are globally distributed as
a part of the NASA-managed Aerosol
Robotic Network (AERONET). Groundbased remote sensing retrievals
of aerosol optical properties are
analyzed to better understand the
dynamics of aerosol properties as a
function of source region, transport,
aging processes, and interaction
with clouds. His work over the past
year has resulted in several papers
in various stages of publication (at
the time of this report, two submitted, two in review, and six published), as well as his participation
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 59
as a co-convenor at a conference session at the 2013 AGU Fall
Meeting, plus three related presentations.
Upcoming work involves Mr. Eck’s participation in the multi-investigator DISCOVER-AQ field campaign in summer 2014. He will
perform Cimel instrument maintenance and troubleshooting on
multiple AERONET sites within the AERONET Distributed Regional
Aerosol Gridded Observation (DRAGON) network in the greater
Denver-Boulder-Colorado Springs region during the aircraft flight
interval of this field campaign. He also will work on analyzing the
measured Aerosol Optical Depth and retrieved size distributions
associated with aerosol-cloud interactions using AERONET data
acquired during the DRAGON-Korea, DRAGON-Japan and DRAGON-California field campaigns in spring 2012 and winter 2013. A
journal paper related to this analysis will be prepared.
For one task, Dr. Hank Margolis (sponsor: R. Nelson) works
toward developing an analytic and statistical framework for
estimating the aboveground forest biomass of different regions of
North America using a combination of ground plots, airborne lidar,
and spaceborne lidar. As Chief Scientist, he has completed the
AMIGA-Mexico Airborne Campaign, which involved concluding the
airborne G-LiHT data acquisitions and returning equipment and
data. The next steps involved transferring the data and setting
up a data archive for the AMIGA-Mexico G-LiHT data. He worked
on data processing and verification, and wrote data documentation so that his collaborators in Mexico could access the data.
He presented a summary on this data collection and worked with
Mexican scientists on data acquisition, and attended a workshop
organized by the U.S. Forest Service to bring together Mexican
and U.S. scientists working on forest lidar. Dr. Margolis will continue his analysis of AMIGA-Mexico data for ecological studies.
Other work involves compiling results and developing figures and
tables for reporting the results on analyzing the aboveground
forest carbon content of the North American boreal forest using
airborne lidar and ICESat GLAS sampling. A related manuscript is
in progress.
For this second task, Dr. Hank Margolis (sponsor: B. Cook) assists with the development of biomass estimates from lidar and
passive optical and thermal data for selected study sites using
the G-LiHT sensor. Work has involved debugging and processing G-LiHT data for extracting forest height and biomass. He
reviewed data from G-LiHT airborne campaigns, and refined and
edited operator instructions for G-LiHT operation. He also worked
on calculating biomass at the plot level for intensive study sites.
Dr. Margolis began initial discussions and literature review for
developing a REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and
forest Degradation)-relevant proposal for using G-LiHT to conduct
model-assisted lidar inventories in tropical forests; however, due
to instrument availability issues, work on this proposal is on hold.
Dr. Tian Yao (sponsor: E. Middleton) is working on improving and
validating land surface models CLM4.0 and CLM4.5. Her focus is
60 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
on simulating and evaluating photosynthesis outputs at selected
flux tower sites, in order to improve the model and evaluate input
data. Since she began work with GESTAR, gross primary production (GPP) from the new MODIS product fAPARchl has been simulated by both models CLM4.0 and CLM4.5 in selected flux tower
sites over cropland from 2001 to 2006. For each simulation, the
results were compared with default CLM default GPP, MODIS
LAI-derived GPP and flux tower-measured GPP. Future work will
involve conifer forest and other deciduous forest flux tower sites
to evaluate GPP simulations. Dr. Yao is preparing a related poster
presentation for an upcoming AMS meeting.
Dr. Qingyuan Zhang (sponsor: E. Middleton) has been leading the
NASA-funded projects for the retrieval of fraction of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by chlorophyll through canopies
(fAPARchl), which is critical to estimating vegetation gross primary
production (GPP), an important parameter of global carbon cycle
studies and climate change studies. Dr. Zhang has been supporting and will continue to support the two NASA hyperspectral satellite missions: the ongoing Earth Observing One (EO-1) satellite
mission and the future Hyperspectral Infrared Imaging (HyspIRI)
satellite mission. Dr. Zhang’s research has resulted in several
publications this past year. One paper demonstrates that coniferous needleleaf and deciduous broad-leaf forests change chemical
compositions along seasons, which results in variations of fAPARfoliage, fAPARchl and fAPARnon-chl. This paper, published in IEEE
JSTAR, was the first publication to address such findings.
His other papers explored the usefulness of integrating SIF and
PRI for crop GPP estimation, reported the impact of light use efficiency and fPAR parameterization on GPP modeling, and provided
an analysis of the impacts of MODIS footprint and vegetation
BRDF characteristics on GPP estimation. Dr. Zhang will be leading work on two proposals awarded by NASA.
that (a) there is a persistent source of energetic calcium located
in the dawn equatorial region, (b) there is a seasonal dependence
in the calcium source rate, and (c) there are no obvious year-toyear variations in the near-surface dayside calcium exosphere.
Although the precise mechanism responsible for ejecting the calcium has not been determined yet, the most likely process is the
dissociation of Ca-bearing molecules produced in micrometeoroid
impact plumes to form energetic, escaping calcium atoms.
Dr. Charles Malespin (sponsor: P. Mahaffy) works on the development and testing of experimental procedures for the Sample
Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. He is the lead testbed
operator for the SAM testbed at GSFC. He is also part of the
MSL Science and Tactical team and serves as the SAM strategic
science lead. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) was launched
in November 2011 and the Curiosity rover landed in Gale Crater,
Mars on August 6, 2012. The SAM instrument measured the first
in situ radiometric and exposure age dating on another planetary
body. This experiment was developed, tested, and analyzed by
Dr. Malespin and team from January-October 2013. The results
were peer reviewed and published in the journal Science with Dr.
Malespin as second author. The results are considered one of
the highlights of the Curiosity mission to date and were a major
accomplishment for SAM. Additionally, Dr. Malespin and others
were recognized with NASA awards for their work on SAM and on
the Curiosity mission.
SAM completed its first combustion experiment on a previously
cached Cumberland mudstone sample. The experiment was
developed and tested by Dr. Malespin at NASA Goddard before its
Dr. Matthew Burger (sponsor: R. Killen) has been modeling data
using a numerical Monte Carlo model to understand the seasonal
and sporadic variations in the Ca exosphere of Mercury. The
MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit around Mercury since
March 2011. The UVVS component of the MASCS instrument
makes daily observations of the sodium, calcium, and magnesium
components of the exosphere. The Ca component has shown
a persistent source located in the dawn equatorial region. The
Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer
on the MESSENGER spacecraft has observed calcium emission
in Mercury’s exosphere on a near-daily basis since March 2011.
During MESSENGER’s primary and first extended missions (March
2011 – March 2013), the dayside calcium exosphere was measured over eight Mercury years. These data have been simulated
with a Monte Carlo model of exospheric source processes to show
Credit: Matthew Burger
execution on Mars, marking another successful first-time event
for SAM. Curiosity is about to begin a new science campaign at a
new site named “Kimberley”, which will be the third drill location in the mission. The drilled samples will be delivered to SAM
and analyzed using new techniques which Dr. Malespin helped
develop and test. The Curiosity rover completed one Earth year
on Mars, August 5, 2013, a major milestone for the mission and
half of the nominal prime mission. In celebration, Curiosity ‘sang’
“Happy Birthday” to itself using the SAM shaker motors. This
script was developed and tested on the SAM testbed at NASA
Goddard, where Dr. Malespin provided testbed operations. In
August 2014, Curiosity will have completed two Earth years on
Mars. This milestone will complete the nominal mission, with an
extended mission taking the rover to the base of Mt. Sharp.
As product development lead of the MEMS pirani pressure sensor
of the MOMA instrument for the ExoMars 2018 rover, Dr. Adrian
Southard (sponsor: S. Getty) is responsible for the operation,
calibration, and integration of a fast-responding MEMS pirani
pressure sensor for flight. This entails delivery of two calibrated
gauges to each of the following systems: the engineering test unit,
the MOMA test bed, QSM, and flight. Dr. Southard demonstrated
that a MEMS pirani sensor selected for pressure measurement
in the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) instrument (part
of the ESA-led Exomars rover mission) would not respond fast
enough to meet the requirements of the mission. He developed
a physics-based algorithm to speed up pressure prediction and
compensate for ambient temperature changes in the pressure
prediction. The algorithm required a series of calibrations. He
performed experiments to characterize the sensor’s susceptibility to electromagnetic interference, its lifetime, and its sensitivity
to gas composition and ambient temperature, and developed
scripts to analyze sensor data; this
was used to procure equipment for
improved calibration precision. To
assist with such efforts, he wrote an
internal proposal to hire an assistant, Tomoko Adachi, to the MOMA
team. He continues to work closely
with Mrs. Adachi to calibrate gauges.
Since the electronics used for the
sensor’s calibration are not used
in flight, Dr. Southard has worked
closely with an electrical engineer,
Gary Brown, to ensure that the
gauge’s control circuit can resolve
the gauge’s response without introducing instability or much additional
noise to the signals of interest and
that the circuit can accommodate
variations of the signal with ambient
temperature. Dr. Southard argued
for and was granted changes in the
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 61
circuit to reduce risk to the mission and improve accuracy of pressure prediction. He determined that calibration of the circuit was
necessary as well as how this calibration should be done. Despite
changing requirements for the pressure sensor from the start of
work to a few months before delivery, his team was able to meet
the latest requirements using the control circuit, although additional testing post-integration of this circuit to other electronics
boards needs to be completed. Final pressure prediction requirements include pressure predictions under conditions of varying
ambient temperature and pressure changes from 50 mtorr to 0.1
mtorr in less than 1.5 seconds using a repurposed commercial
gauge the size of a transistor can. This also must be performed
with an error of less than 0.1 mtorr in the 0.1 to 1 mtorr regime.
In addition to his work on the pirani sensor, Dr. Southard also
used a SIMION simulation to determine the electric fields within
the MOMA mass spectrometer to support efforts at reducing arc
discharge. He found that the results concerning field strengths
within the mass spectrometer need further examination. He also
used a SIMION simulation to determine whether magnetic fields
induced by heater wires in the MOMA mass spectrometer would
be a concern.
Dr. Southard also supports modeling and testing of the OASIS
instrument, a liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer prototype
for future planetary science missions. He has supported tests of
electrospray using the Organics Analyzer for Sampling Icy Surfaces (OASIS) microchips and modeling as a part of the OASIS
project. His work in the past year has focused on modeling of
electric fields around the OASIS microchip, vacuum system design
and testing, and assisting with electrospray testing on commercial
and home-built systems. He attended and presented on a short
course in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry during an
annual conference and wrote a paper on the efforts of the OASIS
team, which he presented at a national conference. As a Co-I
of the OASIS project, he will be modeling the integration of the
OASIS microchip with a home-built mass spectrometer and will be
designing the interface.
The website for GSFC’s Scientific Visualization Studio (Code 606.4, sponsor H.
Mitchell),, has
undergone many improvements to its design over the past year, primarily due to
the efforts of Katie Lewis. The site has
improved accessibility to its searchable
database, highlights its most popular
visualizations, and showcases work by
its partners: the Conceptual Image Lab,
Goddard Media Studios, and Scientific
Hyperwall Presentations. In fact, the
hyperwall presentations are discussed at
length in the Global Science & Technology (GST) section of this section, as well
as in the following E/PO section. Codes
130 (Office of Communications) and
160 (Office of Education) share similar
goals: to engage and inform the public
in and on NASA Goddard’s missions,
events, and hands-on and virtual activities. GESTAR’s team works diligently
to meet these goals, collaborating on
images, animations and films as well as
stories, interviews and interactive educational tools.
Image credit: J. Beck
CODE 130 (Sponsor: W. Sisler)
In addition to his field support with Operation IceBridge, this past
year Jefferson Beck worked with the SVS to produce, script, and
narrate three major data visualizations that made extensive use
of IceBridge data. They included a complex four-minute piece
showing a decade of changes in the Greenland Ice sheet, an
animation of a new map of Antarctic bedrock, which was picked
up by several major media outlets and received more than
1,000,000 hits on YouTube, and a piece on Greenland’s newlydiscovered “Mega Canyon” hidden below the ice sheet, which
likewise garnered substantial media attention including CNN, the
BBC, National Geographic, and NPR, and was viewed more than
1.2 million times.
While outreach specialists were not approved for travel to Greenland for an early part of last year, Jefferson was still able to utilize
media captured by field personnel, both throughout the campaign
and even into the summer, including an evocative highlight reel of
scenery from the forward camera of the aircraft, which was picked
up by several media outlets, received more than 235,000 views
on YouTube – and as he later learned while deployed in Antarctica
– moved at least one seasoned researcher to tears. Following up
on that more impressionistic success, he then produced a version
62 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
of this video focused just on sea ice that featured researcher commentary to increase scientific content. This video has received
more than 16,000 views, a surprising number for a video almost
10 minutes in length. He also produced a video that, for the first
time, highlighted the impact of the Land, Vegetation and Ice Sensor (LVIS) laser altimeter instrument to IceBridge. Rather than
travel to Greenland in spring 2014, Jefferson helped to choose a
producer to go in his place, and provided substantial pre-deployment support as well as mid-deployment media management.
In the fall of 2013, Jefferson traveled with OIB to chronicle not
only the Antarctic campaign from the air, but also the mission’s
first-ever landing on the sea ice runway at McMurdo Station.
He has released one video and several highlight reels from that
mission – one which was featured on – and has more
videos in development. He also supported a Google Hangout from
McMurdo Station. Additionally, Jefferson helped guide a visualization on ocean currents beneath the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica and supported a popular satellite media tour focused on Arctic
sea ice. He participated in the selection of the supporting images
for that media tour and released a YouTube version to amplify the
message to other audiences.
For the second year in a row, Jefferson created a video of some
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 63
of the Magnetospheric Multiscale
Mission (MMS) spacecraft, as well
as a mission animation showing the
multiple satellite formation as they
orbit to measure the earth’s magnetosphere.
Plant Fluorescence. Image credit: T. Chase
of the best and most important Earth views and data visualizations from space. This year, he coordinated the release with the
agency-wide “Earth Right Now” campaign and the video has
received a positive response, including coverage on news outlets
from Arizona to Great Britain to India and garnered more than
300,000 hits on YouTube.
In the coming year, Jefferson will revisit his footage trove from his
deployment to McMurdo Field Station with Operation IceBridge
and produce a series of retrospective videos. Working with Goddard science writers and researchers, he is also currently developing a major campaign highlighting four decades of Arctic sea
ice observations. He will also continue to support the Earth Right
Now campaign, specifically with a video focused on the history of
climate observations.
Along with producer Daniel Gallagher, Tyler Chase created a pair
of animations showing the Touch and Go Surface Acquisition
Mechanism (TAGSAM), the main instrument on the OSIRIS spacecraft mission. Its goal is to collect material from an asteroid and
return it to Earth for analysis. Tyler’s animations illustrate how the
collection mechanism operates.
Working closely with producer Kayvon Sharghi, Tyler produced a
number of animations to show the results of research by scientist
Joanna Joiner and visualizer Gregory Shirah in the area of plant
fluorescence. One of the measurable results of photosynthesis is
the release of fluorescent light, which is detected by the METOPS
satellite mission. Tyler’s products include animations of trees and
the Earth, as well as detailed cellular-level displays of the mechanisms by which this fluorescence is produced.
Illustrating the relationship between changes in temperature
and cloud cover, Tyler created a pair of Hadley Cell animations to
be used in talks by JPL scientists. The animations compare the
height and thickness of cloud covers across latitudes as well as
the associated changes in wind velocity.
Working with the SVS at Goddard, Tyler created an updated model
64 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Genna Duberstein is the Lead Multimedia Producer for Heliophysics.
This past year, Genna produced a
video on the story of magnetic reconnection. By combining the Solar
Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and
RHESSI data, scientists were able to
confirm previous models and theories of magnetic reconnection, and
reveal new, three-dimensional aspects of the process. This video
was listed on Buzzfeed as one of “25 Things Way More Exciting
than the Royal Baby”, and WIRED named a graphic from the video
“Space Photo of the Day”.
The Best of Goddard Film Festival has been an internal GSFC
tradition for the past five years. The film festival serves as a dedicated space to celebrate not only the great scientific progress at
GSFC, but also the creative achievements of its Office of Communications. For this event, Genna produces and provides graphic
design, motion graphics, advertising, and editing support. The
mid-January 2014 showing boasted the highest attendance in the
festival’s history.
A mid-level flare, an M6.5, erupted from the sun on April 2, 2014,
peaking at 10:05 a.m. EDT. Genna produced a video with footage
from NASA’s SDO, showing the flare in a blend of two wavelengths
of extreme ultraviolet light: 171 Angstroms and 304 Angstroms,
colorized in yellow and red, respectively. “Graceful Eruption” was
broadcast on the NBC evening news, shown on sites like Weather.
com, The Washington Post, Yahoo News, MSNBC, L.A. Times,
Mashable, and Christian Science Monitor.
The SDO sees the sun in different wavelengths, each represented
by a distinct color. After editing work from data visualizer Tom
Bridgman, Genna produced “Jewel Box Sun,” a video that shows
one data set from all of the wavelengths. The video was featured
by many notable websites, including TIME, Gizmodo, BoingBoing,
NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) recently mapped
the boundaries of the solar system’s tail, called the heliotail. The
finding was announced in a Google+ Hangout. Genna created a
web short, an SVS page, and supporting visuals for the Google+
Hangout. As of September 2013, the video had over 400,000
hits on the NASAexplorer YouTube channel. The video was also
picked up by many websites, including CNN, Fox News, Gizmodo,
Discovery, and ABC News’ Good Morning America.
Video productions for Genna include:
“3 Days in 1 Minute: Stacking the
MMS Spacecraft”, “NASA’s IRIS
Spots Its Largest Solar Flare”, “Tracking Energy Through Space – ARTEMIS
Reconnection Fronts”, “IRIS First
Light” (web short, press conference),
“MMS Engineering Challenges”,
“How to Cook a Comet”, “X Marks
the Spot: Seeing Reconnection”,
“Plasmaspheric Plume”, “Jewel Box
Sun”, “Graceful Eruption”, “The Sun
Reverses its Poles”, “IBEX Heliotail”,
“IRIS Mission Trailer”, “IRIS Science
Overview”, “IRIS Launch – L-14, L-1
Press Briefings”.
In the coming year, she will be
involved with the SDO installation
slated to open at the Goddard Visitor
GPM, a NASA/JAXA mission. Image Credit: R. Fitzgibbons
Center, as well as two separate videos
that explain reconnection, one for
educators and another for the general
for Ryan, as the main core of the GPM team was in Japan for the
public. She also will be involved with
launch. Consequently, he reached out to speakers from NASA
many videos related to MMS Products, such as Mission Overview,
HQ, Wallops, and at Goddard to provide an engaging program.
Science Overview, the trailer, and narration of the orbit.
Additionally, a slip in the launch schedule required Ryan to fill an
additional 30 minutes with content late in the planning process.
Ryan Fitzgibbons supports the Global Precipitation MeasureThe launch broadcast was seen as a success by the GPM project
ment (GPM) mission in all multimedia needs, including the docuscientists and the GPM managers, as well as Headquarters promentation of mission milestones, production of web videos and
gram managers. The entire program is available to download at
live press events, and support for the Education/Public Outreach
(E/PO) programs. This last year marked a very large ramp-up to
the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core
Ryan produced two live press briefings at the L-30 mark for GPM.
Observatory mission for Ryan. He took over producing duties for
One briefing focused on the science objectives of the mission,
the mission in late 2011, and while he steadily produced core
while the second focused on the mission and project objectives.
media elements throughout 2012 and into 2013, the workload
He faced major challenges in preparing visuals for six managers
increased substantially from the summer of 2013 until launch in
and scientists from NASA Headquarters, Goddard, and the Japan
February 2014. During the summer and early fall of 2013, Ryan
Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the live broadcast. While
steadily documented the final stages of integration and testing
these press briefings are typically held at NASA HQ, due to renovaof the GPM Core Observatory. During this time, Ryan produced
tions at HQ, Ryan had to produce the events from the Goddard TV
six full web shorts, three video file packages, a series of engineer
profiles called “Meet the Team”, a first light visualization, and two
live broadcast events.
Ryan produced a narrated video version of a GPM/GMI first light
data visualization “GPM’s Stormy New View”. This represented
Ryan produced a 90-minute NASA TV live broadcast event leading
the first public view of the radiometer data produced by GPM as
up to the launch of GPM from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan,
it passed over a cyclone in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Also, in
on February 27, 2014. The program featured expert commentary
support of the E/PO and Public Affairs for GPM, Ryan produced
from scientists live in the studio, as well as in pre-recorded video
several web shorts (searchable on the SVS site): Meet the Team
interviews, live Q&A from social media outlets, and a live feed of
series; GPM’s Journey to Japan; Engineering the Next Generation
the launch site in Japan. Ryan oversaw about 20 other producers,
Observations of Rain and Snow; Anatomy of a Raindrop; Zebra
editors, engineers and production assistants to pull off the live
Crossing; Too Much, Too Little; and How to Assemble the GPM
event. The international aspect of the launch proved challenging
Paper Model.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 65
Ryan will continue to support GPM in
its next chapter of post-launch data
gathering. Upcoming projects include
a “second light” visualization and accompanying web short, which will focus
on the GPM Constellation and unified
data product that combines both the
DPR and GMI. Ryan will also produce a
series of short educational web shorts
that build off the themes presented in
the GPM-related Science on a Sphere
film “Water Falls”. Outside of work on
GPM, he will begin providing production support for the HS3 mission. He
will produce a short series of web
videos that focus on the instruments
onboard the unmanned aircraft and
the answers they may provide for hurricane science questions.
GPM’s Core Observatory
On February 27, 2014, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched
from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan. This GPM satellite carries a radar/radiometer system that
measures precipitation from around the globe. The effects of precipitation are widespread, affecting
world health and agriculture. This data will improve the understanding of the Earth’s water and energy
cycle, leading to improved forecasting of and preparation for extreme weather events, such as floods,
droughts, and landslides, as well as the water cycle’s relationship to climate change. The GPM Core
Observatory carries onboard two key instruments, a Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) and a
multi-channel GMP Microwave Imager (GMI). The DPR consists of the Ka- and Ku-band precipitation
radars, which, when overlapping these bands, provides information on particle drop size distributions.
The DPR also provides measurements that complement cloud and aerosol observations. The GMI is a
multi-channel microwave radiometer with 13 channels that range in frequency; these frequencies retrieve heavy, moderate and light precipitation, with the polarization difference at each channel indicating the optical thickness and water content. The GMI radiometer’s swath covers 550 miles.
Image from “GPM/GMI First Light”, a visualization created from GPM’s first collection of data over
an extra-tropical cyclone off the east coast of Japan on March 10th, eleven days after the GPM Core
Observatory launch date. The GMI’s 13 bands captured the range of brightness temperature data, and
the data then collapses into rain rates. Red areas indicate heavy rainfall, while yellow and blue indicate
less intense rainfall. Blue areas in upper left indicate falling snow. (Credit: Alex Kekesi)
66 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
As a multimedia producer with GodTitan’s atmosphere. Image Credit: D. Gallagher
dard Television, Daniel Gallagher produces and edits videos that inform the
public about missions and scientific
research being conducted at Goddard
For the MAVEN mission, Dan produced and edited a three-andSpace Flight Center. As the lead video producer for the Planetary
a-half-minute instrument profile video titled “Studying the Solar
Department at GSFC, Daniel provides video support for the Lunar
Wind on Mars”, in which Robert Lin, the late director of the Space
Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, and OSIRIS-REx missions, as
Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, diswell as Goddard-related research. Dan’s work supports Goddard
cusses how NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft will study the interaction of
Television’s mission to bring NASA science to the public in an entertaining and informative manner. This past year, NASA celebrat- the Martian atmosphere with the solar wind. MAVEN’s findings will
reveal how Mars lost its early atmosphere, turning it from a warm,
ed the 45th anniversary of “Earthrise”. Dan produced and edited
wet planet into the cold, dry one that we see today. The video was
a seven-minute video about the first “Earthrise,” witnessed by the
released on March 5, 2014 on, NASA’s MAVEN website,
Apollo 8 crew on December 24, 1968. Historian Andrew Chaikin
NASA Explorer (YouTube), and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and
wrote and narrated the video, which features the voices of the
Space Physics MAVEN website. To date, the video has received
Apollo 8 crew captured by the onboard tape recorder and new
views of the Earthrise from inside the CSM, created by SVS visual- over 82,000 views on NASA Explorer. In the coming year, Dan will
be working with animators and visualizers to create up to 13 core
izer Ernie Wright using high-resolution terrain data from LRO. The
visuals for the MAVEN mission from spring 2014 to spring 2015,
video was released on December 20, 2013 on NASA Explorer
(YouTube),, and the SVS, and has received over 1 million depicting key moments such as Post-Launch Deployment, Mars
views to date on NASA Explorer. The video has also been reposted Orbit Insertion, encounter with Comet Siding Spring, and deployment of science instruments. These core visuals will be used
to TIME, The Weather Channel, Gizmodo, and
in MAVEN web videos, press briefings, and live presentations
throughout the duration of the mission.
Dan produced, edited, and narrated a three-minute web video
about studying the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, or “exoIn September 2013, Dan produced and edited a four-minute video
planets”. The video was produced to accompany a paper by GSFC
about propylene in the atmosphere of Titan, which was recently
scientist Avi Mandell in the Astrophysical Journal. The video indiscovered by Goddard scientist Conor Nixon. Dan created several
cludes several new visuals explaining spectroscopy, and it shows
new visuals for the video, including animations of spectroscopy
the transit depth curves of multiple exoplanets, all formatted
data from Cassini’s CIRS instrument. He also worked with Conspecifically for the video by Dan. The finished product was posted
ceptual Image Lab animator Chris Meaney to create new animaon December 3, 2013 to NASA Explorer (YouTube),, and
tions of organic chemistry and polypropylene formation. Posted
the SVS, and has received over 200,000 views to date on NASA
to, the Science Visualization Studio site, and NASA
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 67
Explorer (YouTube) on 09/30/13, this video has been reposted by
several news outlets, including NBC News, the LA Times, SPACE.
com, CNET, Science World Reports, and Computerworld. To date
the video has received over 91,000 views on NASA Explorer.
In late May, a new meteor shower will be visible from North America over Memorial Day weekend, and Dan will provide support
for a television live shot, helping to create and organize visuals.
The live shot will be broadcast from the Goddard TV studio, and
is intended to support the OSIRIS-REx mission and to educate
the public about comets, asteroids, and meteors. Also related to
OSIRIS-Rex, Dan will work with CI Lab’s animation staff, Goddard TV staff, and members of the mission to finish and release
Bennu’s Journey, a signature animation about the formation of
the solar system.
Robert Garner led the effort within Goddard’s Office of Communications web team to transition from the 10-year-old
eTouch content management system to a more dynamic, Drupalbased system. Despite a compressed time schedule, frequent
system problems and minimal training, Goddard’s transition was
seamless to end-users. He also provided guidance and support to
CMS teams elsewhere at Goddard, at Wallops and at JPL. The first
phase of the transition was completed last summer. He continues
to push for system and procedural improvements.
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia requested Robert’s assistance with LADEE launch web coverage in September. Robert
maintained and updated NASA’s LADEE and Wallops websites in
the days leading up to, and in real time during, the launch date on
Sept. 6, and into the early morning of Sept. 7. His efforts received
compliments from staff at Wallops, Goddard, NASA Ames, and
Headquarters, including from John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. In January 2014,
he returned to Wallops to provide similar support for Orbital’s first
official Antares launch to the International Space Station.
NASA Goddard’s social media team won a Shorty Award in the
government category in early April. Robert’s involvement with the
team has seen a steady increase. He participated in the December Earthrise anniversary Google+ hangout, and took the helm
as producer halfway through when other members of the social
media team unexpectedly had to step away. He continues to
advise the team with regard to policy, procedures and interactions
with social media stakeholders at Headquarters, Goddard, and
Michelle Handleman coordinates and produces comprehensive
satellite media tours across the spectrum of science disciplines
at Goddard Space Flight Center, produces short news videos and
b-roll material for This Week @ NASA, NASA TV, and other mediums, and assists the media and documentary film makers with
interview and file video requests. For the total lunar eclipse that
occurred on April 15, Michelle booked interviews with 36 national
68 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
and local television stations including ABC, Reuters, and FOX News’ affiliate service called NewsEdge. She
also booked 20 interviews with local television stations in the top
20 markets in the U.S., including Los Angeles (#2), Chicago (#3)
and Philadelphia (#4). Three local television stations conducted
onsite in-person interviews with NASA scientists. Michelle coordinated closely with producer Dan Gallagher to build a comprehensive campaign that included a gallery page on the SVS website to
make it easier for media to find lunar eclipse visuals.
Over the last year, Michelle has concluded 13 satellite media
tours on a wide range of topics including the Arctic sea ice minimum, MAVEN launch, Comet ISON and wildfires. She is averaging
about 28 interviews with national and local television stations per
live shot. Some of the networks that have booked are MSNBC,
CNN’s “Behind the Science with Chad Myers,” Reuters, CNN
International, SkyNews, and Michelle
has also consistently booked a number of local television stations
in top 20 markets throughout the United States. For the upcoming
year, Michelle is working on a comprehensive archive of the live
shots campaigns that have been done over the last several years,
as well as looking ahead to potential live shot campaigns throughout 2014.
and works on the Planetary Science
Department’s multimedia needs.
In 2013, Planetary Science was
selected as the theme for NASA’s
annual event, “Close Encounters of
the Planetary Minds: Goddard Explores the Solar System”, held at the
National Air & Space Museum. David
was selected as the Lead Producer
and Editor for the visual presentations of Dr. James Garvin, Goddard
Chief Scientist; Dr. Pamela Conrad,
Deputy PI for the Sample Analysis at
Mars experiment aboard Curiosity;
Dr. Bruce Jakosky, PI for MAVEN and
Image from “Bennu’s Journey”. Credit: M. Lentz
Associate Director for Science at the
University of Colorado’s Laboratory
various milestones of Voyager 1 and 2 as they passed through
for Atmospheric and Space Physics;
and out of the Solar System. For the OCO-2 Megacities Carbon
and Dr. Amy Simon-Miller, the Associate Director in Goddard’s
Project, Michael created an animation that shows how various
Solar System Exploration Division. In producing this show, David
instruments will measure CO2 Emissions in Megacities such as
was responsible for finding, organizing, building and editing
Los Angeles.
together all of the necessary visual elements for each speaker’s
video package. He also edited the video for the event’s sponsors.
The CIL studio is going through an upgrade, and Michael has
Working with fellow producer Dan Gallagher, Goddard TV program
been deeply involved in planning the use of new asset managemanager Pat Kennedy, and NASM projectionist Dean Fisk, David
ment and job tracking software into the CIL animation production
ran the control room production booth in the IMAX Theater during
the event, so that each speaker’s visual presentation ran properly. pipeline as well as refining the animation pipeline for a more
efficient workflow. Also, work continues on the infrastructure to
support creating 4k animations and more animations are starting
For the MAVEN Pre-Launch Press Conference, David served as
to be created in this high-resolution format.
the lead producer, creating all visual elements necessary for the
speakers. This included editing video packages related to MAVEN’s mission and physical assembly, and creating the necessary Katie Lewis supports the Goddard web team in interactive multimedia development, including the dissemination of scientific
graphics and still images related to MAVEN’s technical specificamedia, and provides support for the iPad and iPhone project,
tions and the team’s public outreach efforts. Additionally, for
NASA Viz, by creating websites, uploading media, and designing
a video released in February 2014 titled “Playing Tag With an
interfaces. In March 2014, the NASA Visualization Explorer team
Asteroid” about the TAGSAM instrument that will be aboard the
released the NASA Viz app version 1.9, the Universal App. Katie
OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, David wrote the script and created and
was the User Experience Designer for the app, which required a
edited all of the visual elements of the production. David was the
major design overhaul to fit the app’s newly-supported platform,
producer and editor for “Jim Garvin’s Top Pics: LROC Images”,
the iPhone. She redesigned icons, menus, and graphics for the
a video released in March 2014 that focuses on images of the
new app, the interface of which has been well-reviewed since its
moon’s surface taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camrelease. Katie also provided promotional graphics to support the
era (LROC).
NASA Viz app’s release.
This past year, Michael Lentz created an animation that is near
Also, Katie and Joycelyn Jones released a working version of the
completion showing the formation of the solar system, how the
NASA Viz HTML5 responsive website using Bootstrap 3 for review
asteroid “Bennu” came to be, and why OSIRIS-Rex will be going
by the team; this was a major overhaul of the current site. The site
there to take a sample. This was another ambitious animation
is awaiting final review and is optimized for both tablet and mobile
project with many complex visual elements to create. Of note, this
animation is also being created in UHD 4k.
David Ladd produces and edits videos that highlight NASA missions and scientific research, in particular video support for the
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, and OSIRIS-Rex missions,
Michael’s animation for MAVEN: Mars Evolution was delivered
and to date has had over 1.7 million views on the Goddard YouTube channel. He also created animations that will highlight the
This winter may have been one of the coldest and snowiest on record for many parts of the U.S., but Michelle successfully focused
this campaign on research that showed that signs of spring are
actually coming about five days earlier than they did 60 years
ago. Michelle worked closely with visualizers from the SVS and
with scientists to build visuals for this campaign. Twenty-one media outlets booked interviews on this topic including,
The Weather Channel and the FOX affiliate service NewsEdge
that feeds material to their nationwide affiliates. Nine of the local
television stations that booked interviews are in top 20 television
markets including Chicago (#3), Philadelphia (#4), San Francisco
(#6) and Washington, D.C. (#8). Michelle also coordinated two
in-person interviews for Hearst TV affiliate service and WJZ in
Baltimore, MD, as well as coordinating a print interview with NBC
Michelle has made it a regular part of her satellite media tour
strategy to create a specially designed live shot page and/or gallery page in the SVS website for campaigns. On this page Michelle
includes b-roll and a canned interview for stations to download.
She also sends this link to Goddard’s social media team to send
out to followers. This coordinated effort has been very effective
in letting media outlets and the public alike know where to find
the great work that is being done by the scientists, animators and
visualizers here at Goddard.
For the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio, Katie delivered the
fully-redesigned version of the SVS home page. She designed the
site using Bootstrap 3, a mobile-first framework that allows the
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 69
cause of these extreme low temperatures. Additionally, with the
launch of Landsat 8 in early 2013,
high-quality data from this satellite was being returned as of late
May 2013. As the lead multimedia
producer for the Landsat program,
Matt produced eight videos demonstrating the increased capabilities
of the new satellite, and the societal
benefits from these capabilities. In
the coming year, he will be producing a video on the flight operations
team for Landsat 8, and will produce
videos for the Landsat program on
Landsat’s role in monitoring the
recovery from wildfires, assessing
water quality, and determining water
usage by agriculture.
GROVER, the Goddard Rover. Image Credit: M. Radcliff
page to be viewed on any screen size. She also did the front-end
development for the site, using CSS3, HTML5, and JQuery.
Future plans include the full redesign and front-end development of the new SVS website, which will be clean, responsive
(optimized for all devices), play videos in-window, and focused
on large-scale visuals as opposed to text. This includes the Gallery pages, People pages, individual asset/story pages, and the
search page. Katie will also start the redesign of SVS ‘Partner’
pages, adapting them to the overall responsive schematic of the
SVS redesign. This includes redesigning or building CI Lab, Goddard Media Studios, and the Hyperwall websites.
Matthew Radcliff provides support to the Office of Communications, in particular Earth science communications. As the Video
Producer for Landsat projects, Matt prepares videos for the press
and for the general public, and collaborates with the Landsat
Communication and Public Engagement staff to communicate the
work of Landsat science and engineering teams. This past year
at the AGU Fall Meeting, Matt produced a press conference that
highlighted the research of Ted Scambos, a member of the Landsat Science Team. Dr. Scambos had been studying the extremely
low temperatures of the East Antarctic Peninsula and found a
region that has the coldest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.
Using the high spatial resolution data from the new Landsat 8
satellite, Dr. Scambos was able to determine the meteorological
70 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Student interns at Goddard had
designed and built a robot capable
of travelling autonomously in polar
regions. In May/June 2013, as video
producer, Matt traveled to Greenland
to film this robot on its first polar
expedition to the isolated center of
Greenland’s ice sheet. GROVER, the
Goddard Rover, carried a ground-penetrating radar to study the
accumulation of snow on the ice sheet with particular attention to
the ice layer left after the unusual melt in summer of 2012. The
photos and videos he recorded of the rover and the two graduate students were used by several news organizations, and were
featured in a NASA video.
Working with the Earth Science Storytelling Team of NASA and
NASA’s Earth Observatory, Matt produced a number of short
videos showcasing NASA’s contributions to Earth science over the
past year. The videos covered topics such as the calving of a massive iceberg from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica and the
temperature and precipitation predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In addition, in collaboration with fellow video producer Silvia Stoyanova, Matt produced
a series of videos of NASA Earth Scientists answering questions
about climate change submitted by the public. This series was
called “Ask A Climate Scientist,” and the videos were used by
many news organizations. Lastly, at the AGU meeting in December, he produced a series of short videos of NASA scientists explaining their AGU presentations in 15 seconds. The videos were
published on the NASA Instagram account.
Kayvon Sharghi oversees multiple storytelling projects and wears
many hats to guide each project toward achieving its goals. The
projects include reporting on NASA Earth science findings through
digital media communication platforms and strategic online
campaigns, and managing the editorial content and release
of stories on the NASA Visualization Explorer app. As editor of
the NASA Viz app, Kayvon manages all aspects of the editorial
process, including the scheduling, production and release of two
new stories each week. In the past year, he directed the release of
more than 100 new stories. Under his editorial direction, the app
has received positive ratings and reviews and has experienced
significant growth. In March 2014, the app reached a new milestone, surpassing more than 1,000,000 unique downloads on
the iTunes Store. Since its launch in 2011, Kayvon has produced
nearly 15 percent of the total number of stories in the app. This
past year alone he wrote 17 stories, the most of any contributor.
In addition to working with a team of contributing writers at NASA
Goddard Space Flight Center, Kayvon launched a student writing
internship in partnership with the University of California, Santa
Cruz, Science Communication Program. This past year, he managed two graduate students over 24 weeks, each contributing 12
stories to the app.
By identifying the very best visual materials and stories to feature
in the app, Kayvon has attracted new online audiences—including prominent news organizations and journalists—to explore and
share NASA content. This is reflected in the increasing number of
NASA Viz followers and frequent story mentions that appear on
social media sites. Recently, version 1.9 of the app was rolled
out, which will enable the viewing of stories on all iOS devices,
presenting more opportunities to expand its audience. In support of the rollout, Kayvon tested internal versions of the app
and helped troubleshoot issues experienced by the NASA Viz
Software Development Team. He provided writing, editing and
producing support in the creation of promotional materials used
to announce the new version of the app to the public. He has
also worked on developing ideas of how visual material can be
presented in the app in new ways.
In his role as Earth science producer, Kayvon produces video
and animation products in support of NASA Earth Science news
releases. This year he worked on multiple projects, including three
items produced in collaboration with a team of writers, scientists
and producers from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In addition to these projects, Kayvon worked closely with members of the Office of Communications on identifying exciting
new areas with great potential for visual storytelling. This led to
the planning and development of three new pilot projects that
Kayvon will launch in summer 2014. The first two projects will
use existing social media platforms to share NASA Earth science
research and findings in short video reports, with run times of
15 seconds and 60-90 seconds. The third project aims to bring
NASA science to the “offline masses” by producing short video
packages that weathercasters at TV news stations can insert into
their daily broadcasts. Kayvon assembled key information and
addressed all the technical and design components needed to
bring each project from idea to implementation. He also created
project workflows, templates, video format guidelines, and added
automated video export settings to the Final Cut Server to ensure
these products can be produced and published with great speed.
To assist him in creating these products, a multimedia Fellow was
hired; Kayvon drafted a 12-month work plan that details monthly
objectives and expected output.
Since Kayvon began working with GESTAR in June 2011, he has
contributed ideas on ways to improve the coordination of interdepartmental projects, with the goal of creating new animation products at a faster rate and with greater efficiency. To that effort, last
year Kayvon created the SVS/CI Lab Pre-visualization Guide—a
one-page form that scientists, writers, animators and producers
can use to expedite the planning phase of new animation products created by the SVS and Conceptual Image Lab. In 2014, he
developed a companion form—the SVS/CI Lab Project Guide—that
helps writers and producers direct the creation of products, and
captures essential information that details the project’s objectives, deliverables, and production timeline. In practice, the
guides have helped facilitate communication between groups and
resulted in improved efficiency, especially during the project planning phase.
As a video producer, Silvia Stoyanova has served core missions
and their multimedia objectives. When the Chelyabinsk Meteor
made its appearance, Silvia worked on a visualization that illustrates a giant meteor exploding upon contact with Earth’s atmosphere. Following the bolide, the plume begins to circumnavigate
the globe moving in the direction of the wind. The highly sensitive instruments onboard the NPP satellite detected the plume
particles even months later. This visualization was a finalist in a
competition and also was used in a short narrated video.
Silvia worked on the GOES-R trailer, for the GOES-R mission that
continues the legacy of the GOES series, delivering critical realtime data and helping forecasters predict severe weather even
more accurately. The GOES-R trailer was remade with high-end
graphics, animation, and motion graphic work. Silvia also worked
on a short video for the GOES-R ABI Instrument, the primary instrument for scanning Earth’s weather, oceans, and environment.
It is a significant improvement over instruments on NOAA’s current
geostationary satellites. By combining the science and technical
aspects of the instrument, this short video explains all improvements to this satellite as compared to previous GOES satellites.
The video uses high-tech graphics and animation, as well as visualizations and satellite imagery. Her work in the coming year will
include serving the GOES-R mission as well as supporting both
the JPSS and NPP missions.
The Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test (RROxiTT) project is on
its way to proving that satellite servicing in orbit is not only posGESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 71
sible but a huge cost-saving opportunity for new and existing missions. Silvia worked on the trailer and video, “RROxiTT: Another
Step toward Servicing Satellites in Space”, which was produced
and edited with the help of a successful collaboration and coordination with the Kennedy Space Center and great teamwork
at NASA Goddard, involving the robotic lab as well as production
assistant Katrina Jackson. The trailer informed the public that
an important test of the technology was about to happen at KSC.
During the test, the robotic arm was operated remotely from
GSFC, the actual test was captured at KSC, and the majority of
the interviews were shot at GSFC. The final short video discussed
the successfully executed test, and showed footage and animation to explain the process.
mated 29 videos released, with these videos ranging from animations, to breaking news footage of solar flares and CMEs, to narrated features about science results. As of April 22, 2014, these
videos accounted for almost 6.4 million YouTube views. Scott
also produced visuals for three press events. In June 2013, Scott
edited a video compilation highlighting work done by GESTAR producers, animators, and web developers. His complete collection
of work can be found at the Scientific Visualization Studio and/
or on YouTube. In October, Scott produced a heliophysics video
of a particularly beautiful solar prominence eruption and the
magnetic structures it left behind. That video went on to do very
well, with good media saturation, and is currently at about 1.2
million views. Scott’s clips of the eruption were even used in the
current Fox series “Cosmos”. Scott also headed the production
work for comet ISON’s perihelion pass of the sun on Thanksgiving
Day. Leading up to perihelion, Scott released several videos. The
Scott Wiessinger provides visual support for both the Heliophysics and Astrophysics divisions at Goddard, focusing primarily on
science results. He produces short
videos, creates static graphics,
guides the creation of animations
and data visualizations, creates
animations, provides materials
to outside media and producers,
collects, creates and organizes
visuals for press conferences, and
curates visuals online. He also
coordinates and collaborates with
science writers and scientists to
produce accurate and accessible
materials timed to coincide with
press releases and other public announcements. Additionally, Scott is
now the producer for the Wide-Field
Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
mission and has begun creating
content for it. The mission is still in
its early stages, but when launched
it will be one of the most powerful
telescopes in NASA’s astrophysics arsenal, on par with Hubble
Gamma-Ray Burst, Image Credit: S. Wiessinger
and JWST. WFIRST will do widefield infrared imaging and should
answer many questions about dark
matter and dark energy, as well as help find—and even directly
image—exoplanets similar to those in our solar system. With such
an important mission, there will be a great deal of video work to
cover the engineering of the spacecraft and the science it will be
exploring. Scott is currently planning the overall media strategy
for the next few years. Overall plans are not set, but he is working
on a mission trailer, a series of interviews with WFIRST scientists,
including David Spergel, and animations and videos for the American Astronomical Society meetings in June and January.
This past year, Scott produced, co-produced, edited and/or ani72 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
earliest showed projections of the comet’s orbit and discussed
what a “sungrazing” comet is. In the days before perihelion, the
videos were of footage of the comet from various heliophysics
observatories, like STEREO. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, Scott was
in the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s command center, where he
produced images and video of the comet as it passed around the
sun and ultimately broke up. Early in the following week, Scott
compiled all of the footage and released a comprehensive video
of perihelion. Combined, the ISON-related videos have almost 3.5
million views. February 11, 2014 was the fourth anniversary of
SDO’s launch, and Scott edited the annual compilation of some
LUNAR ECLIPSE: April 15, 2014
Dan Gallagher produced, edited, and
narrated a two-minute video titled
“Understanding Lunar Eclipses”,
explaining the mechanics of lunar
eclipses, to prepare the public for the
total lunar eclipse of April 15th. Dan
worked with Ernie Wright to create
new animations for the video, which
was released on April 8th. David
Ladd produced and edited “Need To
Know: Lunar Eclipse and LRO” (image
below), a Q&A video providing details
on the lunar eclipse and the effects
it will have on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, which
also included animation work by Ernie
In fact, Ernie Wright created many visualizations for the April 15th total lunar eclipse, including
the image (right), from “Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014
as Viewed from the Moon”, produced by Dan Gallagher,
David Ladd, and Michelle Handleman. Because of
the LRO’s orbital plane, the solar-powered spacecraft
was without sunlight for almost three hours, its longest
period of darkness to date, and its battery was drained
to less than 40% of capacity. The visuals were used in
web shorts and television interviews to help explain the
eclipse and what LRO would experience.
of the past year’s best footage. This video went on to be the most
successful SDO anniversary video so far, and is in the top 10% of
all Goddard videos. Scott also produced an interesting collaboration between NASA missions. SDO captured the moon partially
eclipsing the sun, and Ernie Wright, the visualizer for the LRO
mission, was able to generate a matching moon image that fit
the dark outline in the SDO image exactly. The Weather Channel
picked up the image, and it is a great example of the overlap of
missions and how data from one mission can reinforce another.
This year’s astrophysics releases were primarily results-driven.
The first big release of the year was comprised of ultraviolet images of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds by the Swift satellite, which was covered by Forbes, The Atlantic, NBC, Slate, and
Popular Science among others. That was followed by a simulation
of a black hole, which also did very well. Scott’s most successful astrophysics video of the year was actually an animation that
he created. It showed a gamma-ray burst, the largest explosion
in the universe. Stills of the video were used by The Guardian,
AP, CBC, USA Today, The Telegraph, and CS Monitor to illustrate
the story. During this year, Scott also saw the release of a longstanding project: a video about a black widow pulsar, Scott’s
longest and most complex video to date. While it is much longer
than most videos released by Goddard, its reasonable success is
encouraging for future longer-format storytelling when the subject
warrants it. This video also required Scott to orchestrate interviews in California and Germany and then integrate them with two
more interviews shot on-site at GSFC. This approach allows for
greater flexibility with interview coverage, and can result in better
and more complete end products. Scott did much of his work in
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 73
astrophysics on illustration and animation. He created illustrations for flaring neutron stars, Jupiter-like exoplanets, gamma-ray
bursts, and neutron stars to scale with cities. He also animated a
gamma-ray burst, gravitational lensing, and active galactic nuclei.
His increasing animation skills are useful because often astrophysics stories do not have compelling or understandable images
with them. Animation and illustration are the best ways to engage
the public and clarify the results. In the next year, he will continue to focus on science results for astrophysics. Upcoming projects
include Swift’s 10th anniversary, a simulation of dark matter
orbiting a black hole, and Eta Carinae’s dramatic binary system.
from Bowling Green State University and Savannah College of Art
& Design-SCAD (Atlanta and Savannah), she designed the courses around the needs of this project. The pilot project launched in
January 2014 and will end May 28, 2014.
CODE 606.4 (Sponsor: H. Mitchell)
Trent Schindler provides visualization support for earth science
missions and research as part of the Scientific Visualization Studio. Some highlights from the past year include Trent’s creation
of an expanded visualization of groundwater depletion in India,
using GRACE gravimetric data that ranged from 2003 to 2013.
He created a visualization of an intrusion of stratospheric ozone
to tropospheric levels, using volumetric rendering techniques
applied to model output from GEOS-5; for the Megacities Carbon
Project, he created a visualization showing the planetary boundary layer dynamics in the region of the Los Angeles Basin. Trent
created a visualization of the jet stream over Europe, to be used
in a forthcoming Horizon/BBC documentary. Another visualization created by Trent showed the projected wildfire risk for the
continental United States over the next century as a result of
climate change.
Helen-Nicole Kostis continues to serve as the Project Manager of
the NASA Visualization Explorer (NASAViz), designed and developed as a highly interactive visual and scientific storytelling app
that releases two stories per week. This multi-disciplinary project
is comprised of two teams: Software Development and User
Interface Design and Editorial. Core team members are software
developers, a producer/editor, an interactive designer and data
The NASA Viz app team has celebrated many achievements this
past year. On May 30, 2013, they released the NASA Viz 1.8 iPad
update. In late July, funding for FY14 was secured for the Software Development and Editorial Teams. In March 2014, there
were several high points. On March 10, they released the NASA
Viz 1.9 Universal app; this version made the app available on all
iOS devices, such as iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Subsequently,
the team received great reviews from users and sites for the
Universal app, such as the review on TUAW, The Unofficial Apple
Website: Then, NASA Viz 1.9.1 app was released to address urgent
bug fixes for the universal app on March 26. Further, HelenNicole and colleagues identified a list of products to develop in
collaboration with the Office of Education to help teachers in the
classroom. The team is currently designing a plan for implementation of these products and will present them at NASA HQ during
May 2014. Of note: it is important to mention that this project
would not have been possible without the support from Ming-Ying
Wei and Ruth Netting and the contributions of the excellent core
team members. For a complete listing of collaborators please
Helen-Nicole also serves as the Product Manager for the ICESat-2
Student Collaborative Pilot Project. For the purposes of this pilot
project, in collaboration with Valerie Casasanto (ICESat-2 EPO
Lead) and Dr. Thorsten Markus (ICESat-2 Project Scientist), HelenNicole designed and developed a pilot project for the development of innovative outreach products. She identified educational
institutions to work in this project; in collaboration with faculty
74 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
sualizations in support of the Comet
ISON observations. These two new visualizations were generated with the
camera following the comet towards
the inner solar system. The view
provides a more dramatic presentation of the comet’s close passage of
Mars in early October 2013.
This coming year, Helen-Nicole will have a book in progress. She
signed a book contract with CRC Press to work on a book titled
“A Practical Guide in Art Science Collaborations for Visualization and Computer Graphics” (working title). This book is based
on collaborative work that has taken place over the past three
years. Helen-Nicole will serve as first author, and the book draft
is scheduled for submission to the publisher September 2015.
The scientific visualization products provided by Ernie Wright are
in support of education, public outreach, and communication for
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and other missions. One of this
year’s biggest highlights was a 7-minute video, “Apollo 8 Earthrise”, created by Ernie that commemorates the 45th anniversary
of Apollo 8’s historic flight by recreating the moment when the
crew first saw and photographed the Earth rising from behind the
Moon. The visualization draws on LRO data and numerous historical sources, and it reveals significant new information about the
Earthrise photographs. The video was edited by GESTAR multimedia producer Daniel Gallagher and narrated by Andrew Chaikin,
author of A Man on the Moon. This video has been viewed over
1,000,000 times on YouTube. Ernie discussed the video in a
Google+ hangout with Andy Chaikin and LRO chief scientist John
Keller, and he will present a talk about the making of the video
at the 2014 SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference. He has
received positive, personal feedback on the video from all three
Apollo 8 astronauts.
For the June 23, 2013 supermoon, Ernie developed graphics
to support television interviews for this event. GSFC scientists
Noah Petro and Michelle Thaller were featured on several dozen
morning news shows on June 21st to explain the phenomenon
of a full Moon occurring very near perigee. Also, as he has since
2011, Ernie created a Moon phase and libration animation for the
Earthrise. Image Credit: E. Wright
current year. The Fox/National Geographic TV series “Cosmos”
hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson ( has
been using portions of these animations in its depictions of the
Moon. They’ve appeared at the 5:39 mark in Episode 1 and at
41:30 in Episode 3.
Several coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were launched by the Sun
during the week of May 15, 2013, and Tom Bridgman processed
Community-Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) prediction
model runs for quick release. The mid-May events were part of a
series of five events in one week, so Tom requested the CCMC to
run higher-resolution models of this time frame—out to the orbit of
Saturn—to integrate into future visuals. The visuals developed for
Solar Cycle 24 have been collected and released on a single web
page titled “CCMC Model Runs” on the SVS website.
A side project that came out of Tom’s experiments on the Annotated Sun visuals, the “Argo View” of multi-wavelength imagery from
the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), was completed and released. A still image from this visualization has appeared in print
in Issue 22 of the magazine All About Space. For the HelioFleet
2013, Tom completed an update to the view of NASA heliophysics
missions operating in 2012. This update includes the renaming of
the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) to the Van Allen Probes,
the addition of the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS)
mission, and the Two Wide-angle Imaging Neutral-atom Spectrometers (TWINS) satellites. This version should be representative of
the operating heliofleet until the launch of the Magnetospheric
Multiscale (MMS) mission. Tom also generated supplemental vi-
Most of the development for the Voyager retrospective story, covering the
accomplishments of the spacecraft’s
magnetometer, has been completed.
In addition to the visualization of
the Voyager trajectories through the
Solar System, simple magnetosphere
models have been generated for
the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,
and Neptune illustrating a simplified
version of the magnetic field interaction based on each planet’s rotation
and magnetic axis. At present, the
release dates are not finalized.
For 2014-2015, in a project for
Planetary Science, Tom is developing visualizations of the Comet
209P/LINEAR orbit that may be the source of a new meteor shower around Memorial Day. This visualization is still under development. Additionally, as a first test of working with data from the
IRIS mission, Tom extracted imagery data from the IRIS Slit-Jaw
Imager (SJI) instrument. Due to the pointing configuration for the
observation, there were good options for cleaning up some data
holes. To expand the capabilities with IRIS data, Tom is developing some methods of presenting spectral data with the imagery.
Leann Johnson works in many aspects of software development.
For the hyperwall, Leann released a graphical tool that allows
users to create and edit hyperwall content using a database backend. She optimized certain aspects of the interface via the underlying database structure and the multiprocessing of specific functions. The tool includes features to read in hyperwall frame sets
and hyperwall shows into the database structure from the file
system, as well as the ability to write them back out for direct use
on the hyperwall itself. She fixed several bugs and made several
minor improvements, and provided training to multiple groups
to use this new software. After collecting user feedback, Leann
designed version two of the software, which aims to de-clutter
the existing interface, allowing it to be more user-intuitive and
more robust on the back-end. Once version two of the graphical
hyperwall editing software is completed and she has addressed
bugs and user input, Leann will release the software and create
an online user guide.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 75
She implemented the new database
design in a test area and significantly enhanced the library of methods
allowing for easy manipulation of
the corresponding object structure.
The library utilizes external tools
written by Eric Sokolowsky, which
were tested by Leann with a variety
of inputs to improve efficiency in
usage to reduce runtime. She began
simplifying and altering the graphical
user interface to correspond with the
new structure.
Leann also wrote software to create
true, Pixar Renderman-compatible
point cloud files given proper data,
which are then used by SVS animators for volumetric rendering. She
Hurricane Sandy, as featured in “Water Falls”. Image Credit: A. Kekesi
later enhanced this software to be
able to handle very large data files
given as input. In the same efEarly scientific data visualization is key in establishing a good first
fort, she compiled a version of the
impression of mission status to both policy makers and taxpaysoftware to run on the NCCS Discover cluster. As needed, Leann
ers alike. Through scientific visualization, Alex helped each of
corrected errors in and enhanced several pieces of SVS software
these missions embark on what will hopefully be interesting and
dealing with statistical analysis, internal reporting, file and datachallenging visualization work for years to come. One of Alex’s
base management and storage, movie encoding, and the NASA
Viz iPad application. Leann imported all existing project code into most notable achievements was developing an initial visualization pipeline for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)
an SVS repository in order to coordinate effectively with fellow
Mission’s GPM Microwave Imager (GPM/GMI) data. By leveragdevelopers. In addition, she created a method to deploy updated
ing GPM science team codes, Alex created a pipeline (in various
software from the repository to the released area, allowing for
networks) that reads in near real-time GPM/GMI data (as well as
quick and easy software maintenance by the whole team.
global cloud cover data) and automatically sets up a Maya scene
Leann supported several local hyperwall demonstrations in
ready to be animated. Alex successfully used this new pipeline
terms of content creation and technical assistance. She created
for the GPM “first light” release, which visualized some of GPM’s
hyperwall shows, as requested, for members of the SVS and the
first data results of a Pacific Storm east of Japan only days after
Earth Sciences Division, as well as NASA colleagues at the Jet
launch (see p. 66). Since then, the pipeline has been further
Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Research Center. Per requests
refined and more recently used to visualize GPM/GMI data of the
from multiple customers, Leann stitched together specific hyperlate winter snowstorm that hit the east coast of the United States
wall show content tiles and encoded the resulting full-resolution
on March 17, 2014.
frames into movie files. She supported a mass entry of hyperwall
content and related metadata into the SVS database system from Alex corrected and enhanced the “Florida Everglades LDCM Band
Remix” visualization. It was noted that the earlier release of this
the Earth Science Division. Several programs were written to
key Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) animation had a
handle file and database integration, and designed and impleminor error in the labeling of the Florida Everglades. Since the
mented an interactive web page with a database back-end to
correction was going to require an AfterEffects re-render of the
track the content and metadata entry from several users. Leann
entire animation anyway, Alex took the opportunity to add the
compiled a basic report generator for hyperwall shows that meet
Everglades boundary as he had initially envisioned. Since the
given criteria; these reports are used by customers who routinely
boundary data was stored in a shapefile format, new code was
utilize and produce hyperwall content.
written in order to properly ingest it into SVS visualization tools.
Alex Kekesi was the lead visualizer on both the NASA Landsat-8
This was then integrated into the scene, with the newly adjusted
and GPM projects. Both of these missions are critical to NASA
label, and re-rendered along with all the web products.
Goddard’s future success as a leader in Earth science research.
For his work with the hyperwall, Alex adapted the Intergovernmen76 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
tal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 21st Century Temperature
and Precipitation Visualizations for both 3x3 and 5x3 hyperwall
shows, which have been shown at the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP19),
the Supercomputing (SC13) conference, the 2013 American
Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, as well as Congressional
and White House staff visits to NASA Goddard. These new shows
have proven to be extremely popular and are often used in NCCS
hyperwall demos.
Alex delivered a novel new visualization of Hurricane Sandy for the
upcoming GPM satellite Science On a Sphere (SOS) show titled
“Water Falls”. A unique treatment was chosen to utilize the spherical projection system in a way scientific data had not been shown
before. The treatment required some research and testing to
project a virtual horizon on a spherical display system that would
be convincing to the SOS audience. The final visualization is best
viewed on an SOS system.
Eric Sokolowsky develops and deploys software to run on hyperwall systems in order to showcase NASA science at meetings and
on tours, of which there were several over this past year. NASA
routinely travels with the hyperwall system on display at scientific meetings, where NASA scientists explain their research in
front of an audience. Eric provided support to conferences and
meetings in support of NASA’s hyperwall and public outreach
efforts, which involved loading presentation material, running the
presentations on behalf of the presenters, and providing technical
support for the hyperwall system. This year’s meetings included
the International Congress for Conservation Biology meeting in
Baltimore, MD; the Geological Society of America conference
in Denver, Colo.; the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change Conference of Parties in Warsaw, Poland to support the U.S. State Department; the Supercomputing Conference
in Denver, Colo.; the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in
San Francisco, CA; and the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. The presentations were well received,
and Eric’s support was critical to their success. While he did
not attend other meetings, he did provide support by preparing
the hyperwall to travel. These meetings were the Group on Earth
Observations Ministerial Summit in Geneva, Switzerland; the
Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, HI; and the National Council
for Science and the Environment meeting in Crystal City, VA. After
each of these meetings concludes, Eric makes the presentations
available on the web by copying the hyperwall shows and content
back to the SVS website.
Eric is also responsible for hyperwall maintenance, which included
updating several hyperwall installations to run Fedora 17 instead
of Fedora 14 (the test hyperwall in Building 28, the hyperwall in
the Building 33 lobby, and one of the traveling Mac Mini hyperwall
systems). He is also working on deploying some new hardware to
control the hyperwall made by Xi3 Corporation. These machines
are very small and energy-efficient, making them easier to transport for meetings across the nation and around the world. He has
almost completed the installation and testing of Fedora 20 on
these machines. His management duties involve maintaining the
vast and growing library of hyperwall content, and to this end, Eric
and others have developed capabilities to organize this content by
moving it into the SVS animation catalog system, where captions
and text can be added, information can be searched, and everything can be made visible online as a web page. He also improved
the titles of many hyperwall shows to make them easier to locate
when searching and has continued generating new previews for
hyperwall shows.
Several software upgrades to the hyperwall were implemented.
Eric improved the hyperwall user interface by adding the ability to
perform full-text searching for each show, using information in the
title, the caption text, any keywords, the file name, and the animation number. The user sees a preview image of each show. Eric
made the interface and software more responsive and reliable.
He also improved the web interface into hyperwall content available at, where all past shows
and events are archived.
Other improvements to the hyperwall include the tool that Eric
wrote that controls monitors through the serial port, in order to
more easily play content from a single computer that is not aware
of the hyperwall, allowing software demos and high-resolution
videos with synchronized sound to be played more easily. He also
enabled the use of a presentation remote control to be used with
the hyperwall when controlling a playlist, allowing presenters to
control the pace and switching of their own presentations in front
of the hyperwall. When the end of the presentation is reached,
a blank screen automatically appears. Eric wrote a program
to automatically create caption images, and these images are
displayed on a separate monitor next to the hyperwall screens.
Having these caption images generated automatically saves effort
in creating them manually.
He supported the NASA Center for Climate Simulation Software
by continuing to maintain the Web Map Service (WMS) that was
developed for use by NCCS, its customers and users. The NCCS
runs the Earth system model, the GEOS-5, simulating weather
and other Earth system processes. The WMS is a “window” into
the climate model, showing users visualizations of the various
parameters and processes. Eric enabled the WMS to provide
imagery from a new version of data files that has been made
available recently.
Eric provided NASA SVS Software Support by writing new tools
for use by SVS team members: dbmirror is a tool used to mirror
one hyperwall animation to the web server; dbmigrate is used to
move particular files associated with an animation into the SVS
database directory structure; movieframe is a tool used to extract
a particular frame from a movie file, which is useful for generating
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 77
image previews of movies for the SVS website; and, cdb is a tool
to easily change a user’s current working directory to a particular
animation. This shortcut can save a lot of repeated effort. Looking ahead, due to the proliferation of desktop environments found
at the SVS, Eric is interested in using virtual machines to make
a consistent build and testing environment for all of the different
platforms. He currently supports four versions of Fedora and two
(soon to be three) versions of CentOS, to support both internal
tools and also for compiling programs for the hyperwall.
Cynthia (Cindy) Starr provides visualizations, and over this past
year, her work was centered on the OIB mission and included
animations for events in both polar regions, from Greenland to
Antarctica. The topography of the bedrock under the Antarctic Ice
Sheet is critical to understanding the ice sheet’s dynamic motion,
thickness, and influence on the surrounding ocean and global
climate. In 2001, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) released a
map named BEDMAP1 of the bed under the Antarctic Ice Sheet
derived from data collected by an international consortium of scientists over the prior 50 years. In 2013, BAS released an updated
data set called BEDMAP2 that incorporates an additional 25
million measurements taken over the past two decades. Cindy
created an animation for Operation IceBridge (OIB) that compares
BEDMAP2 to BEDMAP1, showing the improvements in resolution
and coverage. In this animation, she incorporated ice flows, OIB
flight paths, and use of a cutting plane to remove the surface of
the ice sheet. She developed the narration jointly with Jefferson
Beck and worked iteratively with OIB team members (Charles
Webb, Christy Hansen, George Hale, and Michael Studinger) to
design the storyboard. She produced the animation with assistance from Jefferson and provided the final animation along with
high-resolution still images via the SVS website.
Scientists recently completed an expedition to the ice shelf buffering the Pine Island Glacier, a major outlet of the West Antarctic Ice
Sheet that has rapidly thinned and accelerated in recent decades.
Drilling a shaft through the ice shelf, they submerged instruments
beneath the ice to measure ocean velocity, temperature, and
salinity. Cindy created an animation that depicts this process.
The animation shows the velocity-colored ocean currents from
the high-resolution Estimation of the Circulation and Climate of
the Ocean (ECCO3) model circulating around and under the Pine
Island ice shelf, which is sliced away to reveal the ocean flows
under the ice. A shaft is shown penetrating through the ice sheet,
and the instrument is lowered through the shaft into the water
that flows beneath the ice shelf. This animation was in support
of a research paper published in Science in September 2013 and
was developed with a very short lead time in order to meet the
publication deadline.
Cindy created an animation “Greenland’s Mega-Canyon beneath
the Ice Sheet” that portrays topographic data of the bedrock
under the Greenland ice sheet derived from ice-penetrating radar
data. In this animation, the surface of the ice sheet is stripped
78 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
away to reveal the false-color topography of the underlying bedrock. False color derived from the topography elevation clearly
shows a 750-km-long sub-glacial canyon in northern Greenland
that likely has influenced basal water flow from the ice sheet
interior to the margin. Cindy was given a short development time
due to the publication date of the associated research paper,
but was able to leverage prior work from the Greenland dh/dt
project to meet the tight deadline. This animation has been widely
circulated in the media and has received over 1.2 million hits on
She generated a rough-cut animation, “Measuring Elevation
Changes on the Greenland Ice Sheet”, that shows the sequence
of elevation change data over various parts of Greenland with
flow vectors, and met with Jefferson Beck and Bea Csatho (Univ.
of Buffalo) to review the results. When the team determined
that a narration was necessary in order to explain the meaning
of this data, Cindy worked with Jefferson to develop a script. She
also obtained additional data sets needed to illustrate the script,
including the bedrock topography, ICESat flight paths, IceBridge
flight paths, and ice drainage basins, integrating these into the
animation project. Once she received the rough-cut audio file
of the narration, she incorporated the audio track into the Maya
project, using it to set the timing of the animation. She also modified the scripts and key frames on project assets to work with the
narration, and obtained and incorporated time-sequence footage
of glacier movement from the Extreme Ice Survey as well. She
worked with Horace Mitchell to improve the appearance of the
vector flows representing the movement of the ice sheet. Cindy
obtained and incorporated updated data from Bea Csatho extending through 2012 and also incorporated additional IceBridge
tracks from the 2012 campaign. She obtained recommendations
from staff member reviews and incorporated their recommended
changes. She generated a variety of still images along with the
final animation and made all of the materials available on the SVS
web page.
Cindy selected an array of 33 of the best SVS animations for inclusion in an “SVS Highlights” Animation Sampler, the purpose being
to portray the wide variety of visualization techniques employed
in recent projects. She created a storyboard document with small
images and links to the original animations in the SVS database,
as well as an After Effects project including short subsets of each
selection, and generated a draft movie that was originally about
10 minutes long and revised to be about 5 minutes long. She
generated a comprehensive list of credits for the trailer, updated
the PDF storyboard document to summarize each animation and
provided a link to the original SVS web page of each selection,
making it available as documentation on the SVS website.
GPM Materials. Credit: S. Bensusen and H. Hanson.
Global Science & Technology
Global Science and Technology (GST) Staff (sponsor: S. Platnick),
which consists of Ryan Barker, Sally Bensusen, Steve Graham,
Heather Hanson, Winnie Humberson, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Mark
Malanoski, Debbi McLean, Kevin Miller, Cindy Trapp, and Alan
Ward, provide support on three different tasks.
For their first task, GST is the primary point of contact for NASA’s
Earth Science Division’s science exhibit outreach and product development. Over this past year, they provided conference support
to five national and international events. For COP 19 (the Nineteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change), Warsaw, Poland, November
11–22, 2013, Winnie Humberson worked with the Department of
State in a coordinated effort to facilitate the United States’ presence at COP 19. NASA’s hyperwall was a major component at the
conference. Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Steve Graham, Mark Malanoski,
Heather Hanson, and Winnie worked together to sort out existing hyperwall content into four climate themes. Heather provided
short paragraphs on the four themes to the Department of State
for their official COP-19 U.S. Center program. Marit traveled to
Warsaw to operate the hyperwall system and to act as a docent
for the exhibit during the second week of the conference. Kevin
Miller and Heather worked on a Hyperwall Content brochure and
schedule for COP-19, including short descriptions about each
animation within the four themes.
For the 14th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment (NCSE), Washington, DC, January 28–30, 2014, Winnie
coordinated NASA’s 25x25-foot science exhibit, and Marit, Steve,
Heather, and Mark provided docent support for the hyperwall
content during exhibit hours. Heather provided text and organized
content for Kevin to create a hyperwall content brochure for NCSE.
Kevin also produced signage for each hyperwall presentation. The
following week, support was provided at the 94th Annual American
Meteorological Society (AMS), held in Atlanta, GA, February 2–6.
NASA’s science exhibit encompassed a 400-square-foot area
with the hyperwall as the main component. Five NASA scientists
utilized the hyperwall for their presentations. Steve and Mark
provided technical support for the presenters and also facilitated
the set-up/dismantle of the exhibit.
In late February, at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM),
held in Honolulu, HI, Heather and Marit coordinated a group of
12 speakers for the Ocean Sciences Meeting, provided a booth
speaker schedule, and also coordinated the hyperwall playlists
and content. Marit worked with presenters Felix Landerer, Liane
Guild, and others to create new visualizations focused on ocean
topics. Examples include an Antarctic ice sheet mass loss visualization based on GRACE data, visualizations showing the use of
global NASA data sets as inputs to NOAA’s Coral Reef watch product, and a new Aquarius sea surface salinity visualization based
on new daily data from Gary Lagerlof and Hsun-Ying Kao of the
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Heather and Marit traveled to the
conference venue to set-up/dismantle NASA’s exhibit, talked with
booth visitors, and provided technical support for the presenters.
Most recently, the team provided support at the Japan Geophysical Union Annual Meeting (JpGU), held from April 28–May 2,
in Yokohama, Japan. Winnie organized and facilitated NASA’s
exhibit with the JpGU committee. Michael Freilich, Director of
NASA’s Earth Science Division, was a Distinguished Speaker at
the conference. Steve organized the hyperwall speakers, gathered
content for presentations, and provided technical assistance
during the presentations. Winnie was on-site as NASA’s POC. In
the coming year, GST will provide support at the IEEE Geoscience
and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS), Quebec City, Canada, July
13–18; the Esri International Users Conference, San Diego, CA,
July 14–18; and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS)
11th Annual Meeting, Royton Sapporo Hotel, Japan, July 28–August 1.
GST staff also creates various communication products to be
used for public outreach. Kevin designed a tri-fold brochure for
NASA’S Earth-observing Missions; Heather helped to organize
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 79
and finalize the text; Marit updated an existing mission diagram
by removing obsolete missions. The updated graphic became the
cover art for the brochure. The brochure will be used to promote
Operating Airborne Missions, Operating Satellite Missions, and
Future Missions for 2014 and beyond.
For this year’s GPM mission, members of the team created a Mission Brochure, Folder, and Lithograph. Sally and Heather worked
together to produce the GPM mission brochure for use at prelaunch meetings. They also collaborated with the mission science
team to formulate an initial storyline for the text and mock up layout for the 20-page brochure, spread by spread, from discussions
about precipitation science to the spacecraft’s instruments. The
cover shows the GPM Core Observatory grouped with its constellation partners, the pocket folder is used for collecting all current
GPM materials, and the interior text describes the international
effort behind the mission. Included was a QR code embedded
on the right-hand flap for a direct link to more GPM information.
In response to the GPM science team’s request for an updated
lithograph to be modeled after the design of their previous version, Sally created a new GPM Constellation cover illustration to
coordinate with the other previously created GPM materials.
Another communication piece is The Earth Observer Newsletter,
a bi-monthly publication that documents and reports on the Earth
Observing System (EOS). The newsletter has an international and
domestic subscriber list of more than 3,000 people. Alan Ward,
the executive editor, and Heather, a technical/assistant editor,
work with newsletter contributors to collect, edit, and finalize text
and content for each issue. Debbi McLean produces the layout
and design for each issue. The newsletter recently marked its
25th anniversary.
GST staff provide hyperwall content development and maintenance as well. Marit, Mark, and Heather worked together to update hyperwall visualizations from content published on World of
Change (
and NASA Earth Observations ( They created animations from the still image time series, wrote captions,
and created web versions for use on the new hyperwall website.
Examples include the Aral Sea time series to 2013 and the CERES Monthly Solar Insolation, both found on the SVS site. Marit
updated the Aquarius Sea surface Salinity visualization through
October 2013 to showcase more than two years of data from the
Aquarius instrument, and Mark created a visualization showing
the flooding on the Platte River. Marit created a visualization
showing Greenland ice sheet mass loss. Heather edited existing
captions or wrote new ones for the approximately 180 hyperwall
visualizations that make up the first group to be transferred to the
new hyperwall web page/database. Future plans include the addition of hyperwall content on ocean topics to the online hyperwall
library, such as content used for past hyperwall events (including
the recent 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting) as well as content
80 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
contributed by other centers such as JPL. These new ocean visualizations will form part of the content to be used at a State Department ocean meeting in June 2014.
For its second task, GST (sponsor: S. Platnick) is the primary
point of contact for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s science
exhibit outreach and product development. The team provided
conference support for SMD efforts at the Geological Society of
America (GSA) Annual Meeting & Expo, held in Denver, CO, from
October 27–30. Winnie Humberson organized NASA’s science
exhibit and served as the POC during the four-day expo. NASA’s
exhibit encompassed a 600-square-foot footprint that featured
the NASA hyperwall. Steve Graham was on-site to provide technical support and to facilitate set-up and dismantle of the exhibit.
At the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, held
in San Francisco, CA, December 9-12, Winnie organized and
coordinated the NASA science exhibit, which represented NASA’s
Science Mission Directorate and Earth Sciences Division by way
of dynamic hyperwall presentations, in-booth side-event presentations and demonstrations, interactive kiosk stations, and several
information tables that offered face-to-face interactions with staff.
In total, there were 26 excellent scientists recruited to deliver
dynamic hyperwall presentations, including several from Goddard
Space Flight Center. Michael Freilich, Director of Earth Sciences
at NASA Headquarters, and Lawrence Friedl, Director of Applied
Sciences at NASA Headquarters, opened NASA’s booth during the
Ice-Breaker Reception. John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator
for the SMD, NASA Headquarters, and Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief
Scientist, participated in a media event in front of the hyperwall
during the Ice-Breaker Reception. Jack Kaye, Associate Director
for Research at NASA Headquarters, helped close the series of hyperwall talks on Thursday, December 12. The hyperwall presentations concluded with 15 minutes of STS-132 video of the crew onboard the International Space Station. The estimated 100 people
viewing this inspirational film appeared very moved. Additionally,
Steve and Mark Malanoski provided on-site technical support and
organized the set-up and dismantle of NASA’s 2,000 square foot
exhibit. Heather Hanson attended town hall sessions for reporting
purposes and helped staff NASA’s exhibit. Kevin Miller designed
and produced NASA’s exhibit floor plan, program book, speaker
agenda flyer, speaker agenda poster, NASA hyperwall flyer, hyperwall banner stands, and kiosk-speaker presentation templates
for the hyperwall and side events. GST staff will once again be on
hand at the 2014 AGU Meeting.
At the 223rd American Astronomical Society (AAS), held in Washington, DC, January 5–9, Winnie coordinated NASA’s science
exhibit. The following nine missions participated: Transiting
Exoplanet Survey Satellite, Physics of the Cosmos Program, Wide
Field InfraRed Survey Telescope - Astrophysics Focused Telescope
Assets, Cosmic Origins Program, NICER-Neutron star Interior
Composition ExploreR, NuSTAR-Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope
Array, Exoplanet Exploration Program, Postdoctoral Program, and
Astrophysics Roadmap. Mark and Sally Bensusen were on-site to
help set up and dismantle the 20- by 30-foot exhibit space and
hand out materials to students and conference attendees. Kevin
designed and printed NASA’s exhibit floorplan, Astrophysics banner, posters (COR-Cosmic Origins, PCOS-Physics of the Cosmos,
ExEP-Exoplanet Exploration Program, NuSTAR-Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array), and a speaker agenda poster/flyer.
Heather reviewed and edited the content prior to production.
properly condensed before they were imported to the library.
Mark also added the new Solar Dynamics Observatory “Argo”
heliophysics visualization from the SVS to the hyperwall catalog.
Sally added a hyperwall show featuring observations from Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)/Faint Object
Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) instrument.
(Both are available on the first page of the hyperwall catalog.)
Additionally, Sally completed a large 4k high-resolution illustration
showing the structure of the sun and its interaction with Earth.
Winnie was the coordinator for NASA’s Earth Day at Union Station,
held in Washington, DC, April 21-22. Components included 18
hands-on activities, a visit from middle school students, specifically for them to participate in the NASA activities, organizing and
scheduling 12 hyperwall speakers and their presentations, and
facilitating a feed from the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made
a special presentation on April
22nd titled “2014: A Big Year For
Earth at NASA”. Opening presentations were provided by Dr. John
Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator of the Science Mission
Directorate, NASA Headquarters;
Dr. Michael Freilich, Director of
the Earth Science Division, NASA
Headquarters; Kathryn Roger,
President of Earth Day Network;
and Gwen Camp, Director of Individual and Community Preparedness at the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. Several
GST staff provided support at the
hands-on activities. Kevin Miller
designed and produced several
posters, banners, and a speaker
agenda for the hyperwall presentations. Kevin and Heather
worked together on content for the Passport Activity Guide, with
Kevin designing and producing the final version.
The third task for GST Staff (sponsor: S. Platnick) is as the primary point of contact for NASA’s Applied Sciences Division’s science
exhibit outreach and product development. They provided conference support for the International Congress for Conservation
Biology (ICCB), held in Baltimore, MD, July 21–25. Steve Graham
supervised the set-up/teardown of NASA’s exhibit, including the
hyperwall, and provided technical assistance for the hyperwall
presentations. Heather Hanson and
Steve interacted with conference
attendees and disbursed relevant
informational materials.
An annual and in-demand item is the NASA Science Calendar
(image above), and this year Debbi created the cover art and all
design aspects and production of the calendar for 2014. Alan
Ward and Heather crafted technical caption text into short stories
for each monthly image. Marit created two images for the calendar—one using Landsat-8 to show the Salton Sea in true color
and Thermal IR, and one using GRACE data to show drought in
the Middle East. The calendar is a much sought-after publication
used as an outreach tool at major science conferences.
Steve, Mark, Marit, and Heather worked together on the twelve
2014 Science Calendar images (four from each division) to
prepare them for the hyperwall library as new content. The image
files were resized and captions were written for each image and
From January 13-17, the Group On
Earth Observations (GEO)-X Plenary
and 2014 Ministerial Summit was
held in Geneva, Switzerland. Winnie
Humberson organized the interagency U.S. GEO exhibit. Winnie
and Steve traveled to Geneva to
provide technical and organizational
support throughout the conference. The hyperwall was the prime
component of the exhibit and was
utilized by members of the delegation as a unique platform to convey
the importance of satellite observations. In particular, Dr. Michael
Freilich, Director, ESD at NASA Headquarters, gave multiple
presentations to delegates, ministers, and to the head of the U.S.
delegation, Dr. Patrick Gallagher, the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for
Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, wrote a letter
of appreciation acknowledging the efforts of Winnie and Steve
for their hard work and dedication. The letter of appreciation
received a strong endorsement from NASA Administrator Charles
F. Bolden. NASA’s significant contributions to the Ministerial Summit have resulted in a renewal of the GEO mandate for another
Communication Products were provided for the GEO-X Plenary
and 2014 Ministerial Summit. Heather provided text and helped
organize content with Steve and Kevin Miller to create a hyperwall
content brochure for GEO-X. Kevin designed several posters and
signage for the U.S. exhibit. This GST task continues to create
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 81
booklets for its Understanding Earth series. This past year, Sally
Bensusen and Heather collaborated with Allison Leidner from
NASA Headquarters to produce this 16-page booklet, “Understanding Earth: Biodiversity”, the fourth booklet in the task’s
Understanding Earth series (see A. Leidner, Code 610). The
Biodiversity brochure describes how satellite observations—often
combined with other measurements taken on the ground or from
aircraft—provide information relevant to the distribution of ecosystems and their resident species and how scientists use this information to understand patterns of biodiversity, how biodiversity is
changing, and the drivers of the changes, as well as to predict the
impacts of environmental changes on biodiversity in the future.
Other booklets in the series include: Understanding Earth: The
Journey of Dust; Understanding Earth: Biomass Burning; and
Understanding Earth: The Icy Arctic.
GST staff also provided hyperwall content development and
maintenance for this task. Steve, Heather, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen
and Mark Malanoski prepared content for the ICCB hyperwall
presenters by creating playlists, adapting and improving presenters’ content for better display on the hyperwall, making preview
versions of hyperwall shows, and gathering metadata to ensure
that speakers knew exactly what each visualization showed. Additionally, Steve, Heather, Marit and Mark transferred the public
hyperwall website from to
The team worked with SVS developers to ensure that the design
of the new site had good search capabilities. The new database
was implemented to allow searching for a presentation by a keyword and to obtain faster downloads for the larger presentations.
The direct link for the new site is
search.cgi?contentType=p, and is also directly linked to the main
hyperwall web portal
CODE 160: Office of Education
Through her many collaborations, Dr. Benita Bell (sponsor: J.
Harrington) aims to develop domestic and global initiatives and
utilize the existing technology framework to increase astrobiology
research and diversity among minority serving institutions. The
continued focus will be to identify colleges and universities, both
domestic and international with research capabilities and a mutual interest in astrobiology and thereby create exciting partnerships to engage students in STEM research. Research diversity
and cultural diversity remains the core focus of the partnership
framework model.
This past year, Dr. Bell and a NASA Ames scientist collaborated
to create an initiative between Spelman College and NASA Ames,
helping to develop a new joint initiative for student engagement
82 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
for an International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team
in Synthetic Biology; this will be the first of its kind to involve a
Historically Black College and University in Synthetic Biology. The
iGEM program is the premier undergraduate Synthetic Biology
competition. As a brand new partnership between Stanford,
Brown and Spelman, the new team will be named “the StanfordBrown-Spelman iGEM team”. Students are given a kit of biological parts to use along with new parts of their own design to build
biological systems and operate them in living cells. The participating students and the faculty mentor from Spelman have been
identified (2-4 students), and the funding support for the project
will come through NASA Ames. Student training at Spelman has
begun, and research training will provided at NASA Ames in summer 2014. The project will continue through the academic year.
Dr. Bell was a team member on a proposal titled “Evolutionary
Innovation In Action”, submitted jointly for collaboration between
Morgan State University and NASA Ames Research Center. An
Astrobiology Course, Seminars, Internships and Lecture Series at
Morgan State University have been proposed. The Astrobiology
course will incorporate a new digital learning capability tool, the
Hypothesis Browser, developed by Dr. Andrew Pohorille and Dr.
Richard Keller, collaborators at NASA Ames Research Center. The
Hypothesis Browser as a digital capability learning tool will support an effective student research training process. The goal is to
develop a community-based system for indexing and organizing
scientific papers based on hypotheses that they support or contradict. The course will be taught by an interdisciplinary team of
astrobiologists from the NASA Astrobiology Institute and Minority
Institutions Research Support (NAI-MIRS) Program. Students will
develop a clear understanding of active and passive methods of
scientific inquiry. At the conclusion of the course, students will be
required to present a talk and a research paper on how the project helped them to understand how to approach research and the
benefit of the Hypothesis Browser as a learning tool. A mentorship
component will be included in which NASA Staff and Faculty serve
as ongoing mentors throughout the project.
ages with NASA Ames, the NASA center that leads astrobiology
research. An aim is to try to establish some internships and postdoc positions for the AU students with current scientists at NASA
Ames. Additionally, Dr. Bell was a key organizer and member
of the planning team for Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)
collaboration meetings. Dr. Bell led a panel discussion with
Morehouse School of Medicine Leadership; Dean/EVP of Medical
School, Vice President for Research Affairs, Dean for Educational
Outreach and Health Careers, Dean for Graduate Education and
Dean for Educational Affairs participated on this panel. The goal
was to discuss the potential for research collaborations with
NASA Ames Director and MSM leadership.
Dr. Bell recruited four Faculty Members for a summer 2014
sabbatical program from underrepresented institutions, in collaboration with the NAI-MIRS) Faculty Fellowship Program. MIRS
scientists continue to build upon collaborations with NAI research
partners with successful outcomes and numerous publications.
Over 20 MIRS Faculty Fellows to date have participated in the
MIRS program. Fellows continue their astrobiology research at
their institutions once fellowship is completed. Also for summer
2014, Dr. Bell acted as a recruiter and collaborator for the 2014
REU International Summer Internship Program (Malaysia, Mexico
and India). The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
provides an excellent opportunity for students to strengthen
science and research literacy. Selected students for the 2014
summer internship program will conduct research in Malaysia
this summer with research focus on astrobiology-related projects,
climate change and sustainable agriculture among indigenous
communities. Global and cultural diversity is a continued key
focus of the program. Students will be selected from minority
serving institutions. Native American students, Hispanic students
and African-American students will jointly participate in this international research program summer 2014. The lead institution
will be University of Minnesota, Dr. Michael Ceballos, Fellow MIRS
Scientist and ongoing collaborator. Dr. Bell will team with Dr.
Ceballos during laboratory student training and data analysis.
Dr. Daniel Laughlin (sponsor: S. Canright) serves as the first
Digital Media Learning Fellow in NASA’s Office of Education. He
supports NASA agency level work in digital media and learning,
specifically but not limited to the areas of games and digital
badges as means to addressing NASA’s commitment to the
Federal STEM Education Priority Area: Increase Youth and Public
Engagement in STEM. The work includes curating a NASA game
catalog, researching and proposing NASA Headquarters’ Office of
Education guidance for games and digital badges, identifying best
practices, scalable evidence based approaches, benchmarking
and assessing need, gap and niche. He works with federal interagency collaborations, external partnerships and NASA’s internal
games/game technology community. Dr. Laughlin continues to
serve as executive secretary for the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) interagency working group on Digital Game
Technologies and as co-chair the Federal Games Working Group.
NASA released Moonbase Alpha as a proof-of-concept video game
through the Learning Technologies Project. Developed in collaboration with the Army Game Studio and Virtual Heroes, Inc., Dr.
Laughlin led the project. The October issue of PCGamer Magazine
hailed Moonbase Alpha as one of the top 50 free online games
available in 2013. The game combines NASA’s lunar architecture,
the state-of-the-art Unreal 3 Engine and commercial quality game
design in an effort to demonstrate that a fun, inspirational and
educational could be the result. Released on the commercial
game distribution network Steam, Moonbase Alpha proved to be
popular with both players and game critics. The game has an 80page educator’s guide to support classroom use.
Dr. Laughlin completed the NASA game catalog, identifying games
and game technology projects across the agency. The catalog
includes 15 game projects developed by or in collaboration with
NASA. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
(OSTP) identified it as the first document to gather information on
any federal agency’s game efforts.
In February 2014, Dr. Bell organized a STEM Student Engagement
Forum for Historically Black Colleges and Universities within the
Atlanta University System (AU). The National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE), Graduate Students and Medical School Students,
Chapter Presidents, Spelman College, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta
University and Morehouse School of Medicine students convened
to discuss their STEM projects, both research and education. Dr.
Pete Worden, NASA Ames Center Director, was the guest speaker
at the event. NASA Ames Chief of Staff, Karen Bradford, attended
and potential partnership development projects were discussed.
The goal was/is to launch potential student engagement link-
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 83
The GESTAR Maniac Talks offer the opportunity to
Student Engagements
“discuss and learn”. The Maniac Talks “… promote scientific
interaction between young and experienced scientists in order
to learn/improve/revise the knowledge of basics/fundamentals of science and scientific methods for research.” Charles
Gatebe has been instrumental in hosting and maintaining this
exciting series, and this year Dr. Gatebe was recognized with
a Robert H. Goddard Award for his ongoing efforts. Since late
May 2013, speakers have included Compton Tucker, Warren
Wiscombe, Charles McClain, Lorraine Remer, David Atlas, Alexander Marshak, Josefino Comiso, John Mather, William Lau,
Peter Hildebrand, Henning Leidecker and Anne Thompson, all
of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Michael D. King of
LASP, University of Colorado, Boulder, also presented a talk
in July 2013. A schedule of upcoming speakers and videos of
previous talks can be found on the Maniac Talk blog: http://
Assaf Anyamba advised two students this past year. Felicia Chen
(UMD) worked on Rift Valley Monitor. Margaret Glancey (JHU)
was in the Masters of Public Health program and participated in
a USRA Summer Internship. Her thesis was titled “Epidemiologic
and Environmental Risk Factor Analysis of Rift Valley Fever Outbreaks in Southern Africa from 2008 to 2011”. Dr. Anyamba recommended Margaret for employment at the Uniformed Services
University of the Health Sciences and she has since been hired.
Benita Bell assisted STEM students from Georgetown University
and University of Pennsylvania with acquiring summer 2014
internships with colleagues at the NIH and Johns Hopkins APL.
Dr. Peter Hildebrand, retired Earth Science Division Director,
presents a Manic Talk Lecture in February 2014.
On June 26, 2013, Santiago Gassó attended to the final MSc
exam of Kyle Dawson at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. The project was entitled “A study of sea spray optical
properties from multi-sensor spaceborne observations”. Prof.
Nicholas Meskhidze is the thesis advisor and Dr. Gassó is a committee member.
The NASA Visualization Explorer (NASA Viz) app
continues to excite, educate and engage audiences through
its media rich content and stories.
Since the app’s launch on July, 26, 2011, it has received
more than 1 million unique downloads, it continuously ranks
as the #1 Earth science app in the iTunes Education Store
and has been reviewed and featured in tech blogs and news
Charles Gatebe supervised Sreeja Nag, a PhD student at MIT,
who is now in her final year at MIT. Sreeja is working on Distributed Space Missions (DSMs) for application to earth science
As of late May 2014, almost 300 stories have been published.
The collection of stories highlight findings from all four NASA
science themes—Earth, Heliophysics, Planetary, Astrophysics—and includes contributions from [email protected], NASA
Earth Observatory and NASA’s science mission outreach
Through the ongoing efforts of GESTAR team members HelenNicole Kostis (NASA Viz project manager), Katie Lewis (NASA Viz
user experience designer), and Kayvon Sharghi (NASA Viz editor),
two new stories appear in the app each week.
This year the NASA Viz software development team released
the Universal version, which made the app available for all iOS
devices (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch). In order to adapt NASA Viz for
the iPhone, a new user interface was designed and developed. In
addition, two more updates were released to enhance features
for classroom use, improve the user interface and to address bug
fixes. A newly designed NASA Viz website is currently in progress
84 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Benita Bell continues to mentor K-12 STEM Early College Students (9th-10th grade) at NC A&T State University. The goal is to
continue to engage students in NASA learning technologies as
well as increase the pipeline and recruitment of students pursuing STEM careers.
Margaret Hurwitz has been serving as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow since September 2013, working in the Middle
East Bureau at USAID in Washington, DC.
and will launch in summer 2014. During the next year, the team
is planning on releasing updates with push notifications, icloud
capabilities and High-Definition content.
As an outcome of the NASA Viz Teacher Project: NASA Science &
Technology in the Classroom (2012-2013), the team is currently
working with the Office of Education (led by Dr. Robert Gabrys)
on developing content and features to address the Next Generation Science Standards and to assist teachers in their classroom
Matthew Kowalewski mentored two Morgan State University
undergraduates and recently published a short article about their
activities in the Spring 2014 GESTAR newsletter. Each student
made progress in their respective projects and learned about various aspects of instrument and lab engineering.
Matthew Kowalewski participated in the Linton Springs Elementary School Science Fair, Eldersburg, MD in January as a community scientist judge. Students from all grades participated in
the event and had the opportunity to discuss the results of their
research with him and other community scientists.
Tom Kucsera worked with three NASA-sponsored summer
students (Mariel Friberg, Phillip Stratton, and Zachary Fasnacht)
and a post-summer GESTAR-sponsored student though the joint
cooperative agreement with Morgan State, Amon Dow. Mr. Kucsera provided help and assistance with their research projects.
Student training on the use of the MINX data processing tool and
MISR data products was provided. Projects included work with
MISR satellite data products, GOCART and NU-WRF modeling
results analyses. At the conclusion of the summer, posters were
generated that highlighted the work performed.
Priscilla Mohammed supported a summer intern who contributed
to the SMAP RFI algorithm performance evaluation by developing
Matlab code to evaluate RFI detector performance using radiometer flight model data from thermal vacuum. With guidance from
Dr. Mohammed, the intern wrote code to produce receiver operating curves for each of the RFI detectors in the L1B TB algorithm
based on different RFI types as inputs.
As part of the Intensive Summer School in Computing for Environmental Sciences (ISSCENS), Cecile Rousseaux supervised an
intern, Laura Hamrick, from June – August 2013.
In addition to working with a team of contributing writers at NASA
Goddard Space Flight Center, Kayvon Sharghi launched a student
writing internship in partnership with the University of California,
Santa Cruz, Science Communication Program. Kayvon managed
two graduate students over 24 weeks, each contributing 12 stories to the NASA Viz app.
On July 18 and 25, 2013, Jason Sippel gave presentations on
NASA’s hurricane research program was given to K-12 students
involved in the Baltimore SEMAA program at Morgan State University. Following the presentation, the students were given an
activity to work through that involved using data from the ongoing
HS3 field campaign.
In addition, Jason Sippel worked with NASA Ames Research
Center and the Baltimore SEMAA program to organize a SEMAA
field trip to NASAs Wallops Flight Facility during the HS3 Field
Campaign. Students first visited the Wallops Visitor Center and
then went to the HS3 hangar, where they were able to observe
real-time HS3 operations, see a Global Hawk up-close, and talk to
mission scientists about hurricane research.
Kristen Weaver spoke to Silver Spring International Middle
School Green Team (~30 students) in Silver Spring, MD, about the
GPM mission (including showing “Our Wet Wide World”), and the
importance of measuring precipitation from space. She showed
them the rain gauge that will soon be installed at their school and
talked about citizen science measurements and what their role
can be.
Kristen Weaver participated in STEM Activity Series with students
at the George B. Thomas Learning Academy Saturday School
at Wheaton High School, Silver Spring, MD. Activities included
making and testing rain gauges and discussing how precipitation
measurements are made from the ground, learning about how
the GPM Core Observatory measures precipitation from space,
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 85
making an edible model of the satellite, and conducting an experiment about the amount precipitation needed to create a landslide
in different types of sand and soil. The series culminated in a
poster contest for students to show what they learned, and a
follow-up field trip to Goddard Space Flight Center is planned.
Helen-Nicole Kostis is also a Committee Member of the NASA
Information Science & Technology Colloquium Series. As part
of her committee duties, she invites and hosts leaders from the
fields of computer graphics and visualization. On April 23, 2014,
she hosted Ariel Shamir (Disney Research & MIT).
Education/Public Outreach
Matthew Kowalewski participated in the DISCOVER-AQ public
outreach event while on deployment to Houston, TX. During the
event, over 300 fifth graders visited the NASA Ellington Airfield
where Mr. Kowalewski gave tutorials on the B200 aircraft and the
GCAS instrument operations and science.
Benita Bell organized the STEM Student Engagement Forum
for Historically Black Colleges and Universities within the Atlanta
University System (AU). The National Society for Black Engineers
(NSBE), Graduate Students and Medical School Students, Chapter
Presidents, Spelman College, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University
and Morehouse School of Medicine students convened to discuss
their STEM projects, both research and education. Dr. Pete Worden, NASA Ames Center Director was the guest speaker at the
event. NASA Ames Chief of Staff, Karen Bradford, also attended
and potential partnership development projects were discussed.
The ongoing goal is to launch potential student engagement
links with NASA Ames, which is the center leading astrobiology
research. Another goal is to establish internships and post-doc
positions for AU students with current scientists at NASA Ames.
Working with Steve Graham and Winnie Humberson, Edward
Celarier conducted presentations in front of the NASA Hyperwall
at the National American Chemical Society Convention, New
Orleans, LA. The first evening was devoted to university students,
and the Hyperwall presentations increased awareness of the
chemistry-related activities occurring within NASA.
Gabrielle De Lannoy was a panel member in a site-review of
NOAA-CRESST, College Park, MD, a cooperative institute, and she
educated students about Earth sciences research.
Gabrielle De Lannoy participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival, Washington, DC, as a staff member of the Earth
Science area. Kristen Weaver hosted a table at this festival,
sharing the GPM mission’s science and technology with the
Helen-Nicole Kostis served in the American Alliance of Museums
Media and Technology MUSE 2014 Awards Jury Team for Interpretive Installations. Helen-Nicole also served on the Association
of Computing Machinery (ACM) SIGGRAPH Jury Team to select
content for the upcoming conference in Vancouver 2014. She
participated in the Jury team for the General Submissions (talks,
panels, courses, studio, emerging technologies).
86 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Student interns at Goddard had designed and built a robot
capable of travelling autonomously in polar regions. In summer
2013, Matt Radcliff traveled to Greenland to film this robot on
its first polar expedition to the center of Greenland’s ice sheet.
GROVER, the Goddard Rover, carried a ground-penetrating radar
to study the accumulation of snow on the ice sheet with particular
attention to the ice layer left after the unusual melt in summer of
2012. Matt filmed the rover and the two graduate students who
were working on the project.
Adrian Southard gave a talk on MOMA-related work at Catholic
University, Washington, DC, titled “Use of a MEMS Pirani pressure
gauge to protect operation of the Mars Organic Mass Analyzer
mass spectrometer: One of many engineering challenges associated with searching for signs of past or present life on Mars”.
Erica McGrath-Spangler and Teppei Yasunari participated as
judges for the Outstanding Student Paper Awards at the 2013
AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. The purpose of the judging
is to provide constructive criticism to students in order to improve
their presentation skills.
Kristen Weaver assisted with hands-on activities for GPM Family
Day, held at Goddard Space Flight Center. Over 300 people associated with GPM and their friends and family members came
to the Goddard Visitor Center for a briefing about the mission
science and engineering, to visit the activities tables (freshwater
resources, the water cycle, and making paper and edible models
of the Core Observatory), and for a tour of Building 28 to see the
testing facilities and the satellite itself before it was sent to Japan
for its launch in February.
Kristen Weaver was a key participant in the Extreme Weather
Teacher Workshop, Greenbelt, MD. Jointly with the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, the GPM team held three teacher
workshops about Extreme Weather on Earth and in space. Teach-
EARTH DAY at Union Station, April 21-22, 2014
Allison Leidner worked with Winnie Humberson, the coordinator for this large-scale event, at the NASA booth and the USRA
booth for Earth Day at Union Station, Washington, DC, where
Dr. Leidner also gave a Hyperwall talk titled “Earth’s Biodiversity: The View from Space”. Edward Celarier gave a Hyperwall
presentation, speaking about nitrogen dioxide measurements
from OMI, and the importance of making these measurements.
Working with USRA’s Jim Lochner and Beth Maginnis, Erica
McGrath-Spangler engaged with the public by participating in
USRA’s “What on Earth” exhibit, where select images from Earth
were shown and discussing with the public what those images
could be. Kristen Weaver hosted a table at Earth Day at Union
Station, sharing information about the GPM mission science
and technology. GST staff on hand to support the multiple
components of this event included Steve Graham, Heather
Hanson, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Mark Malanoski, Debbi McLean,
Kevin Miller, Sally Bensusen, Ryan Barker, and Cindy Trapp,
who worked at several of the hands-on activities and provided
technical and logistical support. Kevin Miller designed several
communication products, and he and Heather Hanson created
the Passport Activity Guide.
ers learned about the science behind GPM and MMS, and the
educational materials associated with each. The first workshop
was for Montgomery County, MD teachers (Nov); the second one
was for participants in the STEM Pipeline through the GSFC’s Office of Education and included teachers from various districts in
Maryland and the District of Columbia (Dec); and the third workshop was focused on teachers from Prince George’s and Howard
Counties (Jan). Workshop materials are now available as online
professional development for educators around the country.
Kristen Weaver hosted a table at the 25th annual Rockville Science Day at Montgomery College, Rockville, MD. Activities included a water cycle model, precipitation towers, and the chance for
kids to assemble a model of the GPM Core Observatory satellite.
In collaboration with the E/PO teams from other missions at Goddard (MMS, LRO and SDO), Kristen Weaver hosted a kids activity
table at AwesomeCon, Washington, D.C.
Yaping Zhou shadowed a high school science teacher from Baltimore County, MD in July 2013. During the one-week program,
Dr. Zhou helped the teacher learn about the day-to-day work of
a research scientist, become familiar with many existing online
NASA educational tools that can be used in the classroom, and,
after attending a seminar by Dr. Warren Wiscombe (Code 613),
helped her identify and develop a missing piece in the current
Maryland high school Earth science curriculum: global warming
and the cryosphere.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 87
producing improved Level 2 and Level 3 aerosol and cloud products.”
In late May 2013, Ginger Butcher, Eric Nash and Edward Celarier (sponsor: N. Krotkov) won a 2013 Communicator Award for Excellence in Print and Design by the International Academy of the Visual Arts for their work on the poster “The Ozone Hole: Over 30 Years
of NASA Observations”. With over 6000 entries received in 2013 from the US and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the
largest and most competitive awards program honoring the creative excellence for communications professionals. The poster employs
a stunning infographic format to highlight NASA’s ozone hole observations between 1979 to 2012 from a variety of NASA missions
including Aura and Suomi NPP.
Kerry Meyer also was recognized for Best First-Authored Paper*: “For fundamental contributions to understanding the effect of abovecloud absorbing aerosols on the radiative forcing of coupled aerosol-cloud layers.” *Meyer, K., S. Platnick, L. Oreopoulos, and D. M. Lee
(2013), Estimating the direct radiative effect of absorbing aerosols overlying marine boundary layer clouds in the southeast Atlantic
using MODIS and CALIOP, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1002/jgrd.50449.
In June 2013, at Goddard’s Earth Sciences - Atmospheres (Code 610) awards ceremony, Valentina Aquila (sponsor: P. Colarco) was
recognized for Outstanding Performance – Science: “For significant advances in our understanding of the ozone response to strong
tropical volcanic eruption.” Mircea Grecu (sponsor: R. Meneghini) was recognized for Outstanding Performance – Science: “For successful completion of the “at launch” GPM combined radar-radiometer algorithm, from concept to final software, using innovative and
original approaches.”
In December 2013, Paolo de Matthaeis and his sponsor David Le Vine (NASA GSFC) were recipients of an award from NASA Headquarters, a Group Achievement Award presented to the AQ Launch, Early Orbit Ops, and Commissioning Team “for outstanding achievement in launching the AQ/SAC-D Observatory and commissioning the Aquarius instrument for unprecedented global sea surface
salinity observations.”
As a member of the Aquarius Science Calibration and Validation Team, Paolo de Matthaeis also received a NASA Award, for “Outstanding team efforts in calibrating and validating Aquarius science products in fulfillment of mission science objectives.”
In December 2013, Charles Malespin (sponsor: P. Mahaffy) received an award from the Director of the Solar System Exploration Directorate of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center “in recognition of your dedication and service to the NASA community”. This award was
also presented to other members of the SAM team for their work on the Curiosity mission.
Also, Charles Malespin received an award from NASA Headquarters, a Group Achievement Award as part of the MSL SAM instrument
development and Science Team, for “Exceptional achievement defining SAM’s scientific goals and requirements, developing the instrument suite and investigation, and operating SAM successfully on Mars.”
In December 2013, the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition awarded Assaf Anyamba (sponsor: C. Tucker) and his team
the 2013 FDA Leveraging/Collaboration Award as members of the Geospatial Produce Risk Assessment Modeling Team for exceptional achievement and collaboration to develop a geospatial risk assessment model to predict environmental produce contamination
events. The FDA Leveraging/Collaboration Award recognizes an individual’s or company’s efforts to collaborate with other government
or industry groups to advance the FDA’s public health mission. Dr. Anyamba’s project, titled “Geospatial Risk Assessment Model of
environmental contamination of produce by Enteric Pathogens”, aims to develop a geospatial, environmental and climatic database
and model that will enable CFSAN to understand, characterize and predict the likelihood, amount, time, and location of environmental
contamination of produce by enteric pathogens (E. coli, Salmonella) in the continental U.S.
At NASA Goddard’s Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Laboratory (Code 612) awards ceremony, three GESTAR scientists received
recognition. Two scientists were recognized for Exceptional Scientific Achievement: Xiaowen Li (sponsor: W. K. Tao), “for research using sophisticated microphysical processes to improve our understanding of the interactive processes between cloud, precipitation and
aerosol”, and Jainn J. (Roger) Shi (sponsor: W. K. Tao), “for research using WRF with Goddard Radiative and Goddard Microphysical
schemes to improve our understanding of direct and indirect aerosol-precipitation interactive processes.” Xiping Zeng (sponsor: W. K.
Tao) was recognized for Best Scientific Paper: “A Comparison of the Water Budgets between Clouds from AMMA and TWP-ICE” (2013),
Zeng, X., W.-K. Tao, S. Powell, R. Houze, P. Cieselski, N. Guy, H. Pierce, and T. Matsui, Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 70, 487-503.
At NASA Goddard’s Climate and Radiation Laboratory (Code 613) awards ceremony, four GESTAR scientists were recognized for their
For Outstanding Technical Support/Achievement: Benjamin Marchant (sponsor: S. Platnick), Kerry Meyer (sponsor: S. Platnick),
Falguni Patadia (sponsor: R. Levy), and Andrew Sayer (sponsor: N. C. Hsu) were among those who received a Team Award given to
the MODIS Collection 6 Team: “For sustained effort leading to the successful delivery of the MODIS Collection 6 algorithms and codes
88 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
At Goddard’s GMAO Peer Awards Ceremony, Deepthi Achuthavarier (sponsor: S. Schubert) received the GMAO Peer Award for Scientific
Achievement, “For contributing to our understanding of decadal climate variability in the North Pacific and its implications for improving
the GEOS-5 coupled model.”
NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio was awarded first place in the video category of the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge for its 4-minute entry titled “Excerpt from Dynamic Earth”. In the full-length planetarium film “Dynamic Earth”, which has been shown worldwide, the visualizers conveyed the flow of solar wind and its effect on the atmosphere and ocean
currents. The original video was created by Greg Shirah, Tom Bridgman, Horace Mitchell, Lori Perkins, Cindy Starr, Ernie Wright, Trent
Schindler, and Stuart Snodgrass.
Winnie Humberson and Steve Graham of GST (Global Science & Technology, Inc.) received a letter of appreciation from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden for their work at the 2014 GEO Plenary and Ministerial Summit. His letter was in response to a letter he
received from Acting NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, recognizing NASA’s efforts in Geneva. In particular, they were recognized
“for their tireless work to produce an outstanding USGEO exhibit.” Winnie stated that their “support consisted of organizing exhibits,
organizing real time coordination for Hyperwall presentations, and networking with the local mission office for press, VIPs and students
visiting the USGEO exhibit.”
In May 2014, Charles Gatebe (sponsor: C. Ichoku) received a 2013 Robert H. Goddard Award for Outreach in recognition “for founding,
implementing, and continuing to lead the spectacularly successful “Maniac” series of talks at NASA Goddard”.
In May 2014, fourteen GESTAR members were recognized with an Excellence in GESTAR Mission Achievement award.
Tom Bridgman, Trent Schindler, Cindy Starr, and Ernie Wright (code 606.4, sponsor: H. Mitchell) were recognized for their roles on
the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) team awarded first place in the video category of the 2013 International Science and
Engineering Visualization Challenge, a highly prestigious competition sponsored jointly by the journal Science and the NSF. The winning entry is an excerpt from the planetarium film “Dynamic Earth” and shows how the particles from solar storms bombard Earth and
how the sun’s heat energy drives Earth’s climate and weather. Congratulatory emails to SVS Director Horace Mitchell on the team’s
behalf came from NASA Earth Science Division Director Michael Freilich and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director Chris Scolese.
Freilich noted, “I personally use and benefit greatly from your products, which are always of the highest scientific and aesthetic quality,
and which are easily discoverable and accessible through your site.” Scolese added, “Your products inspire many to pursue careers in
science and engineering and to learn about our Earth and the universe.”
Ludovic Brucker (code 615, sponsor L. Koenig): For his science contribution and his efforts in abiding by GESTAR administrative
requirements. Dr. Brucker has shown incredible leadership and scientific achievement in all areas of his research but in particular his
work with Aquarius data over the Polar Regions. He has created products to easily enable the use of the data by the community while
simultaneously investigating new and innovative ways to use the data to better understand changes over both land and sea ice. He is
a leading expert in Microwave Remote Sensing at shorter wavelengths and the work he has done over the past year establishes him as
the field’s leading expert in utilizing Aquarius data, especially over land ice. The data sets Dr. Brucker has created are being housed by
the National Snow and Ice data Center.
Tom Eck (code 618, sponsor B. Holben): For sustained outstanding performance in the AERONET program and exemplary publication
record of well-cited peer reviewed scientific papers. The AERONET program is the world’s largest network of ground-based sensors for
aerosols. On a day-to-day basis, Mr. Eck keeps track of everything that is happening with the AERONET stations (approximately 400
sites in 50 countries on all seven continents). He is fondly referred to as the AERONET “operations scientist” by his colleagues and the
aerosol community. Mr. Eck played a critical role in the 1998 paper which was used to introduce AERONET; that paper has now passed
an impressive academic milestone: more than 2100 times as a citation, making it one of the most referenced papers in contemporary
earth science. He has an h-index of 52, which is considered AGU Fellow grade.
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 89
Dongchul Kim (code 614, sponsor M. Chin): For numerous publications, including two first author papers, and multiple research
presentations at AGU, AMS and the AeroCom workshop. His major research area is the atmospheric dust life cycle and its environmental/climate impacts through modeling and data analysis. His work includes using a new method to extract dust optical properties from
AERONET observations, developing and evaluating a new dust source function for global model simulations that is based on satellite
observations of NDVI, and diagnosing multiple global model diversity on dust simulations over North Africa and North Atlantic. More
recently, he has become involved in the development of dust simulation capability in the NASA Unified WRF (NU-WRF) model in order to
simulate mesoscale processes of dust.
Hyokyung Kim (code 612, sponsor R. Meneghini): For an outstanding job in developing a spaceborne radar simulator to test operational and experimental algorithms for the Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) on the GPM satellite. This work encompasses many
tasks: incorporating atmospheric and surface model data into the program, making use of scattering computations from snow, rain and
mixed phase particles and configuring the results to serve as level 1 input to the algorithms.
Lok Lamsal (code 614, sponsor N. Krotkov): For exceptional and highly productive research, and his invaluable participation as part of
the NASA OMI team under Drs. Joanna Joiner and Nickolay Krotkov.
Young-Kwon Lim (code 610.1, sponsor S. Schubert): For his contributions to the improved simulation of tropical storm/cyclone at
high-spatial resolution in the global climate model; for becoming a recognized expert in addressing issues related to the simulation of
tropical storms with high-resolution global models; and for distinguishing himself for outstanding productivity in journal publications
and professional presentations.
Cynthia Randles (code 614, sponsor P. Colarco): For her productivity, and her participation in publications. She has been the lead
author on two recent papers, and coauthored several others. One of these papers explored the aerosol semi-direct effect in GEOS-5,
one of the first papers to explore the GOCART aerosols in GEOS-5 and focus on aerosol-cloud effects. A second paper came out of her
leadership in the AeroCom community, where she led a study exploring the sensitivity of computed radiative fluxes to heterogeneity in
radiative transfer schemes. This latter study involved coordinating model simulations by a number of international research groups.
Andy Sayer (code 613, sponsor N.C. Hsu): For his exceptional role in, and dedication to, the development of the MODIS Deep Blue
Aerosol data set collection six; for his involvement in the development of new aerosol optical depth data sets from SeaWiFS; for his ability to work on multiple problems, for his altruistic team player role, and for his outstanding productivity. Dr. Sayer has just reached his
twentieth peer-reviewed publication since GESTAR’s inception (of these 20, six are first-author articles).
Amy Houghton (staff): For her outstanding dedication to GESTAR in her capacity as Technical Editor. Since GESTAR’s inception, she
has supervised the production and release of 12 quarterly reports, in addition to progress reports and annual reports, always delivering products of great quality in a timely manner.
Julie Smith (Dalnekoff) (staff): For her support regarding all visa-related topics and continuing support of GESTAR foreign nationals
with Green Card applications and other issues. She continues to be very helpful with quick and clear answers, and there have been no
delays in processing visas.
90 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Airborne Compact Atmospheric Mapper
Aviation Climate Change Research Initiative
Atmospheric Composition: Modeling and Analysis Program
Atmospheric Data Assimilation System
Aerosol Robotic Network
Atmospheric General Circulation Model
American Geophysical Union
Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder
Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
American Meteorological Society
AMSR-E Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS
Aerosol Optical Depth
Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model
Arctic Oscillation
Aerosol Optical Thickness
Applied Remote Sensing Training program
Active Sensing of C02 Emissions over Nights, Days and Seasons
Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder
Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment
Aura Validation Data Center
Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
BRDF, Albedo, Cloud and Aerosol Radiometer
BLSNBlowing Snow
Cloud and Aerosol Instrument
Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization
Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation
Chemistry-Climate Model Initiative
Cloud Data Assimilation
CDC Center for Disease Control
Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System
Committee on Earth Observation Satellites
Cryogenic Frostpoint Hygrometer
Children’s Hospital and Research Center, Oakland
Conceptual Imaging Lab
Climate Variability and Predictability project
Community Land Model version 4
Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology
Coronal Mass Ejection
Coupled Model Intercomparison Project
Content Management System
COP 19
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties
CFMIP Observation Simulator Package
Cloud Optical Thickness
CRMCloud-Resolving Model
Concurrent Versions System
(NCAR) Data Assimilation Research Testbed
Data Assimilation System
Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations
Relevant to Air Quality
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 91
Department of Defense
Department of Energy
Differential Frequency Ratio
Dual-frequency Participation Radar
Distributed Regional Aerosol Gridded Observation Network
rainDrop Size Distribution
Dynamics of the Madden Julian Oscillation
Enhanced MODIS Airborne Simulator
East Atlantic/West Russia
Estimation of the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast
Enhanced MODIS Airborne Simulator
Ensemble Kalman Filter
El Niño/Southern Oscillation
E/POEducation/Public Outreach
Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera
Earth Science Picture of the Day
European Space Agency
Foreign Agricultural Service
Food and Drug Administration
Field of View
Goddard’s Lidar, Hyperspectral and Thermal airborne imager
GEOCAPE Airborne Simulator
Goddard Cumulus Ensemble
GPM Cold-season Precipitation Experiment
Global Change Research Program
Group of Earth Observations
GEOstationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events
Goddard Earth Observing System Version 5
GEOS Coupled Atmosphere Ocean Chemistry Climate Model
GEOS-CCM GEOS Chemistry Climate Model
Global Earth Observation System of Systems
GESTAR Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research
Global Energy Water Cycle Experiment
Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling Systems
Global Land Survey and Impervious Mapping Project
Global Water Scarcity Information Service
Global Modeling and Assimilation Office
GPM Microwave Imager
Goddard Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport
Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R
Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite
Goddard Snow Impurity Module
Global Precipitation Measurement
Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment
Greenland ROVER
GCOS Reference Upper Air Network
Goddard Satellite Data Simulation Unit
92 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Goddard Space Flight Center
Global Water Cycle
Global Water System Project
High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler
Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel
HSegHierarchal Segmentation
Hyperspectral Infrared Imager
Interstellar Boundary Explorer
International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport & Transformation
Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite
International Genetically Engineered Machine
International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium
International GEWEX Project Office
Integrated Global Water Cycle Observations
International Observe the Moon Night
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Internal Research and Development Program
Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Joint Polar Satellite System
Joint Scientific Committee
James Webb Space Telescope
Kennedy Space Center
Land Cover/Land Use Change
Land and Atmosphere Data Assimilation System
Land Data Assimilation System
Landsat Data Continuity Mission
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera
Land surface Skin Temperature
Land, Vegetation and Ice Sensor
Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar
Marine ARM GPCI Investigation of Clouds
Multi-Angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission
Middle Latitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment
Making Earth Science data records for Use in Research for Earth Science
Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications
Moisture Flux Divergence
Microwave Humidity Sounder
Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer
MJOMadden-Julian Oscillation
Microwave Limb Sounder
Multi-scale Modeling Framework
Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer
Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 93
Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere
Mars Science Laboratory
NASA Astrobiology Institute
NASA Astrobiology Institute Minority Institutions Research Support Program
NASA Visualization Explorer app
National Air and Space Museum
North American Water Project
National Climate Assessment
National Center for Atmospheric Research
NASA Center for Climate Simulation
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
NASA Energy and Water Cycle Studies
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NASA Ocean Biogeochemical Model
NPOESS Preparatory Project
NPOESS Preparatory Project’s Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite
National Snow and Ice Data Center
National Science and Technology Council
NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting
Non-Uniform Beam Filling
Organics Analyzer for Sampling Icy Surfaces
Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2
Ozone Depleting Substances
OIBOperation IceBridge
Outgoing Longwave Radiation
OMI/Aura level-2 near UV Aerosol data product
Ozone Monitoring Instrument
Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer
Observing System Simulation Experiments
Office of Science and Technology Policy (at the White House)
Planetary Boundary Layer
Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Pacific Decadal Variability
Path Integrated Attenuation
Preliminary Regional Experiment for STORM
Particle Size Distribution
Quasi-Biannual Oscillation
Radiation Belt Storm Probes
Radiometric Calibration and Development Laboratory
Research Experience for Undergraduates
Radio Frequency Interference
Root Mean Square Error
Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test
Sample Analysis at Mars
Spectral Bin Microphysics
Solar Dynamics Observatory
Satellite Data Simulation Unit
94 | GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014
Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys
Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy
Slit-Jaw Imager
Soil Moisture Active/Passive
Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity
SNOTELSnowpack Telemetry
Science on a Sphere
Stratospheric Processes And their Role in Climate
Surface Reference Technique
Scientific Steering Group
Sea Surface Temperature
STEStratosphere-Troposphere Exchange
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Scientific Visualization Studio
Touch and Go Surface Acquisition Mechanism
TCTropical Cyclone
TRMM Microwave Imager
Top of the Atmosphere
Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer
Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission
Two Wide-angle Imaging Neutral-atom Spectrometers
Tropical Warm Pool-International Cloud Experiment
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ultra-scale Visualization for Climate model Data Analysis
Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite
Vector linearized radiative transfer model
World Climate Research Program
Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope
Weather Research and Forecast
Young Hydrologic Society
GESTAR Annual Report 2013 - 2014 | 95
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