Earth Sciences Division

John E Yorks


John E Yorks's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6284
Org Code: 612
Mail Code 612
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Missions & Projects

Research Interests

Cloud and Aerosol Remote Sensing

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Lidar remote sensing, lidar systems development, cloud properties, aerosol properties, aerosol transport, elastic backscatter lidar, HSRL, Doppler wind lidar, cirrus, cloud/aerosol radiative effects, satellite remote sensing, Earth’s climate and atmosphere, atmospheric processes, cloud and aerosol lidar retrieval algorithms, airborne and spaceborne lidar, winter storm dynamics, lidar-radar synergy

Current Projects

Space-Based and Airborne Lidar

Remote Sensing

  • Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) on the International Space Station (ISS)
  • Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL)
  • Airborne Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (ACATS)

Satellite and Airborne Missions

Atmospheric Measurement

  • Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS)
  • Earth System Observatory (ESO) Atmospheric Observing System (AOS) mission


Research Assistant

Penn State University - University Park, PA

July 2006 - January 2008

Lead Research Scientist

Science Systems and Applications, Inc. - NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

February 2008 - August 2015

Research Physical Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

August 2015 - Present


2006 - B.S. - Meteorology, Millersville University, Millersville, PA.
2007 - M.S. - Meteorology, Penn State University, University Park, PA.
2014 - PhD - Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union (AGU)


2006 - Present

American Meteorological Society (AMS)


2004 - Present

Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)


2015 - Present


  • 2008 Exceptional Scientific Research, Mesoscale Atmospheric Branch, NASA GSFC
  • 2008 NASA Group Achievement Award – TC4 Team
  • 2009 SSAI Publication Award
  • 2011 NASA Group Achievement Award – GloPac Team
  • 2011 SSAI Publication Award (2)
  • 2014 Outstanding Performance - Instrumentation, Atmospheric Sciences, NASA GSFC
  • 2014 NASA IRAD Innovator of the Year, Team Award (CATS)
  • 2015 NASA Group Achievement Award – CATS Team
  • 2016 Best Science Highlight, Atmospheric Sciences, NASA GSFC
  • 2018 NASA Special Act Award for chairing the Science Directorate Committee
  • 2019 Robert H. Goddard (RHG) Honor Award – Science
  • 2020 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (EAM)

Special Experience

  • Participant in the 2005 UCAR Undergraduate Leadership Workshop in Boulder, CO
  • Co-Investigator funded to provide assessment of CALIPSO retrieval uncertainties and examining cirrus cloud properties, 2009-2011.
  • Co-Investigator funded to integrate the Airborne Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (ACATS) lidar to aircraft, 2009-2011.
  • Co-Investigator funded to provide Cloud Physics Lidar measurements for the SEAC4RS field campaign, 2011-2013.
  • Committee member, NASA AeroCenter, 2013 – 2016.
  • Science Lead, International Space Station (ISS) Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), 2013 – present.
  • Director, NASA Earth Science Young Scientist Forum, 2013 – present.
  • Co-Investigator funded to analyze synergistic ice cloud observations from eMAS, RSP, and CPL, 2014-present.
  • Science Principal Investigator funded to evaluate the vertical variability of clouds and aerosols over large and small horizontal scales using CALIPSO and CATS data, 2016-2018.
  • Co-Investigator funded to quantify Dust Deposition into Oceans Through Integrating Measurements from CALIPSO Lidar and Other Satellite Sensors, 2016-2019.
  • Co-Investigator funded to characterize Aerosol Transport from Mid-Latitudes to Polar Regions with Twin Spaceborne Lidars and GEOS-5 Model, 2016-2019.
  • Member, Science Impact Team for Aerosol-Cloud-Convection-Precipitation (A-CCP) Decadal Survey Dedicated Observable Study Team, 2018-2021.
  • Member, Technology Team for Planetary Boundary Layer Incubation Study, 2020-present.
  • Co-Investigator funded to study cloud and precipitation retrievals from combined satellite lidar, radar and broad-band radiometer observations, 2019- present.
  • Co-Investigator funded to untangle interactions between Tropical North Atlantic dynamics and Saharan dust using observations from the joint NASA-ESA Aeolus Validation Campaign, 2021- present.
  • Deputy Principal Investigator, Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS), 2018-present.
  • Deputy Project Scientist, Earth System Observatory (ESO) Atmospheric Observing System (AOS) mission - Inclined Orbit, Pre-Phase A, 2021-present.



2023. "Machine learning-enabled real-time detection of cloud and aerosol layers using airborne lidar." Frontiers in Remote Sensing 4 [10.3389/frsen.2023.1116817] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "A SmallSat Concept to Resolve Diurnal and Vertical Variations of Aerosols, Clouds, and Boundary Layer Height." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 104 (4): E815–E836 [10.1175/bams-d-21-0179.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "First Mapping of Monthly and Diurnal Climatology of Saharan Dust Layer Height Over the Atlantic Ocean From EPIC/DSCOVR in Deep Space." Geophysical Research Letters 50 (5): [10.1029/2022gl102552] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Aerosol Detection from the Cloud–Aerosol Transport System on the International Space Station: Algorithm Overview and Implications for Diurnal Sampling." Atmosphere 13 (9): 1439 [10.3390/atmos13091439] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Constrained Retrievals of Aerosol Optical Properties Using Combined Lidar and Imager Measurements During the FIREX-AQ Campaign." Frontiers in Remote Sensing 3 [10.3389/frsen.2022.818605] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Chasing Snowstorms: The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) Campaign." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society [10.1175/bams-d-20-0246.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "First retrieval of absorbing aerosol height over dark target using TROPOMI oxygen B band: Algorithm development and application for surface particulate matter estimates." Remote Sensing of Environment 265 112674 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112674] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Planetary Boundary Layer Height Estimates From ICESat-2 and CATS Backscatter Measurements." Frontiers in Remote Sensing 2 [10.3389/frsen.2021.716951] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Aerosol properties in cloudy environments from remote sensing observations: a review of the current state of knowledge." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 1-57 [10.1175/bams-d-20-0225.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Aerosol and Cloud Detection Using Machine Learning Algorithms and Space-Based Lidar Data." Atmosphere 12 (5): 606 [10.3390/atmos12050606] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "A global analysis of diurnal variability in dust and dust mixture using CATS observations." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 21 (3): 1427-1447 [10.5194/acp-21-1427-2021] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "A Classification of Ice Crystal Habits Using Combined Lidar and Scanning Polarimeter Observations during the SEAC4RS Campaign." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 37 (12): 2185-2196 [10.1175/jtech-d-20-0037.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Models transport Saharan dust too low in the atmosphere: a comparison of the MetUM and CAMS forecasts with observations." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 20 (21): 12955-12982 [10.5194/acp-20-12955-2020] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Differences in the Evolution of Pyrocumulonimbus and Volcanic Stratospheric Plumes as Observed by CATS and CALIOP Space-Based Lidars." Atmosphere 11 (10): 1035 [10.3390/atmos11101035] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "The Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) airborne field campaign." Earth System Science Data 12 (3): 2183-2208 [Full Text] [10.5194/essd-12-2183-2020] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Sensitivities in Satellite Lidar‐Derived Estimates of Daytime Top‐of‐the‐Atmosphere Optically Thin Cirrus Cloud Radiative Forcing: A Case Study." Geophysical Research Letters 47 (17): [10.1029/2020gl088871] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Observation and quantification of aerosol outflow from southern Africa using spaceborne lidar." South African Journal of Science 116 [10.17159/sajs.2020/6398] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Air pollution inputs to the Mojave Desert by fusing surface mobile and airborne in situ and airborne and satellite remote sensing: A case study of interbasin transport with numerical model validation." Atmospheric Environment 224 117184 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2019.117184] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Cloud Aerosol Transport System (CATS) 1064 nm calibration and validation." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 12 6241–6258 [10.5194/amt-12-6241-2019] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Investigation of CATS aerosol products and application toward global diurnal variation of aerosols." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 19 12687-12707 [10.5194/acp-19-12687-2019] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "EARLINET evaluation of the CATS Level 2 aerosol backscatter coefficient product." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 19 (18): 11743-11764 [10.5194/acp-19-11743-2019] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Radiative Forcing and Stratospheric Warming of Pyrocumulonimbus Smoke Aerosols: First Modeling Results With Multisensor (EPIC, CALIPSO, and CATS) Views from Space." Geophysical Research Letters 46 (16): 10061-10071 [10.1029/2019gl082360] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "The diurnal cycle of cloud profiles over land and ocean between 51°S and 51°N, seen by the CATS spaceborne lidar from the International Space Station." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 18 (13): 9457-9473 [10.5194/acp-18-9457-2018] [Article in Book]

2017. "Seasonally transported aerosol layers over southeast Atlantic are closer to underlying clouds than previously reported." Geophysical Research Letters [10.1002/2017gl073559] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Remote Sensing of Multiple Cloud Layer Heights using Multi-Angular Measurements." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions 1-23 [10.5194/amt-10-2361-2017] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Using CATS Near-Realtime Lidar Observations to Monitor and Constrain Volcanic Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Forecasts." Geophysical Research Letters [10.1002/2016gl070119] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Passive remote sensing of aerosol layer height using near-UV multiangle polarization measurements." Geophysical Research Letters 43 (16): 8783-8790 [10.1002/2016gl069848] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Polarized view of supercooled liquid water clouds." Remote Sensing of Environment 181 96-110 [10.1016/j.rse.2016.04.002] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "An overview of the CATS level 1 processing algorithms and data products." Geophysical Research Letters 43 (9): 4632-4639 [10.1002/2016gl068006] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Vertical variation of ice particle size in convective cloud tops." Geophysical Research Letters 43 (9): 4586-4593 [10.1002/2016gl068548] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Cirrus cloud optical and microphysical property retrievals from eMAS during SEAC4RS using bi-spectral reflectance measurements within the 1.88  µm water vapor absorption band." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 9 (4): 1743-1753 [10.5194/amt-9-1743-2016] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Liquid water cloud properties during the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX)." Remote Sens. Environ. 169 20-36 [doi:10.1016/j.rse.2015.07.029] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "The Airborne Cloud-Aerosol Transport System: Overview and Description of the Instrument and Retrieval Algorithms." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 31 2482-2497 [10.1175/JTECH-D-14-00044.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Airborne validation of cirrus cloud properties derived from CALIPSO lidar measurements: Optical properties." Journal of Geophysical Research 116 D19207 [10.1029/2011JD015942] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Statistics of Cloud Optical Properties from Airborne Lidar Measurements." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 28 (7): 869-883 [10.1175/2011JTECHA1507.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Airborne validation of cirrus cloud properties derived from CALIPSO lidar measurements: Spatial properties." J. Geophys. Res. 116 (D19): D19207 [10.1029/2011JD015942] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Convective and wave signatures in ozone profiles over the equatorial Americas: Views from TC4 2007 and SHADOZ." J. Geophys. Res. 115 D00J23 [10.1029/2009JD012909] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Radiative effects of African dust and smoke observed from Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) data." J. Geophys. Res. 114 D00H04 [10.1029/2009JD012000] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "The variability of free tropospheric ozone over Beltsville, Maryland (39N, 77W) in the summers 2004–2007." Atmos Environ 43 (11): 1827-1838 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.12.049] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Tropospheric ozone sources and wave activity over Mexico City and Houston during MILAGRO/Intercontinental Transport Experiment (INTEX-B) Ozonesonde Network Study, 2006 (IONS-06)." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 8 (17): 5113-5125 [10.5194/acp-8-5113-2008] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Analysis of the Summer 2004 ozone budget over the United States using Intercontinental Transport Experiment Ozonesonde Network Study (IONS) observations and Model of Ozone and Related Tracers (MOZART-4) simulations." J. Geophys. Res. 113 (D23): D23306 [10.1029/2008JD010190] [Journal Article/Letter]