Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Charles M Ichoku


Charles M Ichoku's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.4212
Org Code: 610
Mail Code 610
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Charles Ichoku is a Research Physical Scientist with the Climate and Radiation Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He is actively involved in the development of innovative remote sensing approaches for global characterization of fires, their smoke emissions, and atmospheric aerosols in general, as well as evaluating their impacts on the environment and climate. However, his activities over the years have included developing and applying both experimental and remote sensing approaches to research in various branches of the earth sciences, including geology and geodynamics, hydrology, and atmospheric studies. He has won several NASA individual and group achievement awards, and has published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Research Interests

Fire Energetics and Emissions Research (FEER)

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Quantitative characterization of biomass burning processes and impacts from space-based, airborne, and ground-based measurements to improve the understanding of the global distribution, causes, seasonality, and overall impacts of biomass burning. This involves a comprehensive analysis of energy release from fires as measured by remote sensing and it's relationship to biomass consumption, smoke plume injection, and aerosol and trace-gas emissions.

Atmospheric Aerosol Remote Sensing

Earth Science: Aerosols

Contribute meaningfully toward a more complete scientific understanding of the atmospheric aerosol phenomenon through remote sensing from space, validation using ground-based and airborne measurements, multi-sensor uncertainty analysis, and application to model evaluation.


Research Physical Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Climate & Radiation Laboratory, Code 613, Greenbelt, MD

September 2008 - Present

Associate Research Scientist

Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), University of Maryland, College Park, MD - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Climate & Radiation Laboratory, Code 613, Greenbelt, MD

July 2006 - August 2008

Senior Scientist

Science Systems & Applications, Inc. (SSAI), 10210 Greenbelt Road, Suite 600, Lanham, MD - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Climate & Radiation Laboratory, Code 613, Greenbelt, MD

November 1998 - June 2006

Research Fellow/Visiting Scientist

Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry - Biogeochemistry Department, Mainz, Germany

August 1997 - October 1998

Adjunct Lecturer/Asst. Professor

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology - Department of Civil Engineering, Haifa, Israel

August 1996 - July 1997

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev - Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Sede Boker Campus, Israel.

December 1993 - July 1997

Teaching Experience

Adjunct Lecturer/Asst. Professor 8/1996 - 7/1997 Technion – Israel Institute of Technology , Department of Civil Engineering, Haifa, Israel


Ph.D (Docteur) in Earth Sciences (June 1993): Université Pierre & Marie Curie (UPMC), Paris, France, 1989-1993.
M. Phil (DESS) in Remote Sensing (July 1989): UPMC, Paris, France, 1988-89.
M.S. in Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (January 1987), University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, Nigeria, 1983-86
B.S. in Surveying, Geodesy & Photogrammetry (July 1982), UNN, Nigeria, 1977-82.

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

2001 - Present

Professional Service

2013-2014: Guest Editor of the Environmental Research Letters (ERL) Focus Issue on African Environmental Processes and Water-Cycle Dynamics ( .

2013: Served on the National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on “Evaluating NOAA's Plan to Mitigate the Loss of Total Solar Irradiance Measurements from Space”, thus helping to ensure appropriate focus on important national scientific objectives.

2011-2012: Guest Editor for the Journal "Atmosphere" special issue on "Biomass Emissions" (

2009 - 2011 Served as one of the lead NASA Principal Investigators that helped formulate the scientific strategy for the NASA-sponsored worldwide GLOBE Student Climate Research Campaign (SCRC), helping transfer climate research capability to the younger generation.


2017 : Team Excellence Award to Satellite Needs Assessment Team, NASA.
2013 : Group Achievement Award to the ASDC Website Refresh Team, NASA.
2009 : Group Achievement Award to the ARCTAS Team, NASA.
2008 : Group Achievement Award to Goddard Applied Sciences Team, NASA.
2007 : Outstanding Science Leadership Award, Lab. for Atmospheres, NASA/GSFC.
2005 : Outstanding Teamwork Award to MODIS Aerosol Team, NASA/GSFC.
2004 : Best Paper Award, by Climate & Radiation Branch, NASA/GSFC.
2002 : Special Award for Scientific Achievement, Climate & Radiation Branch, NASA/GSFC.


Amplified study of the interactions and feedbacks between biomass burning and water cycle dynamics across the northern sub-Saharan African region

ROSES Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science (IDS) - NASA (NNH12ZDA001N-IDS) - Awarded: 2013-10-01

Dates: 2013-10-01  - 2016-09-30

Coherent uncertainty analysis of aerosol data products from multiple satellites

ROSES Earth System Data Records Uncertainty Analysis - NASA (NNH10ZDA001N-ESDRERR) - Awarded: 2011-10-01

Dates: 2011-10-01  - 2015-09-30

Interactions and feedbacks between biomass burning and water cycle dynamics across the northern sub-Saharan African region

ROSES Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science (IDS) - NASA (NNH09ZDA001N-IDS) - Awarded: 2010-10-01

Dates: 2010-10-01  - 2013-09-30



2019. "A predictive model for Lake Chad total surface water area using remotely sensed and modeled hydrological and meteorological parameters and multivariate regression analysis." Journal of Hydrology 568 1071-1080 [10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.11.037] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Connecting Indonesian fires and drought with the type of El Niño and phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole during 1979-2016." Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres [10.1029/2018JD028402] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Structural heterogeneity of vegetation fire ash." Land Degradation & Development [10.1002/ldr.2922] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Impact of radiation frequency, precipitation radiative forcing, and radiation column aggregation on convection-permitting West African monsoon simulations." Climate Dynamics [10.1007/s00382-018-4187-2] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Lake Chad Total Surface Water Area as Derived from Land Surface Temperature and Radar Remote Sensing Data." Remote Sensing 10 (2): [10.3390/rs10020252] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Mitigating Satellite-Based Fire Sampling Limitations in Deriving Biomass Burning Emission Rates: Application to WRF-Chem Model Over the Northern sub-Saharan African Region." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 123 (1): 507-528 [10.1002/2017jd026840] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Fire induced rock spalls as long-term traps for ash." CATENA 162 88-99 [10.1016/j.catena.2017.11.021] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Maritime Aerosol Network optical depth measurements and comparison with satellite retrievals from various different sensors." Remote Sensing of Clouds and the Atmosphere XXII [10.1117/12.2277113] [Proceedings]

2017. "Validation of IMERG precipitation in Africa." Journal of Hydrometeorology 18 (2017): 2817-2825 [10.1175/JHM-D-17-0139.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Detecting high and low-intensity fires in Alaska using VIIRS I-band data: An improved operational approach for high latitudes." Remote Sensing of Environment 199 389-400 [10.1016/j.rse.2017.07.003] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Precipitation characteristics in West and East Africa from satellite and in situ observations." Journal of Hydrometeorology 18 (6): 1799-1805 [10.1175/jhm-d-17-0068.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Synthesis and review: African environmental processes and water-cycle dynamics." Environmental Research Letters 11 (12): 120206 [10.1088/1748-9326/11/12/120206] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Fire and Smoke Remote Sensing and Modeling Uncertainties: Case Studies in Northern Sub-Saharan Africa." Geophysical Monograph Series 223 215-230 [10.1002/9781119028116.ch14] [Article in Book]

2016. "Biomass burning, land-cover change, and the hydrological cycle in Northern sub-Saharan Africa." Environmental Research Letters 11 (9): 095005 [10.1088/1748-9326/11/9/095005] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Improving Nocturnal Fire Detection With the VIIRS Day–Night Band." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 54 (9): 5503 - 5519 [10.1109/tgrs.2016.2566665] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Measuring radiant emissions from entire prescribed fires with ground, airborne and satellite sensors – RxCADRE 2012." Int. J. Wildland Fire 25 (1): 48 [10.1071/wf15090] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Combined effect of El Niño southern oscillation and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation on Lake Chad level variability." Cogent Geoscience 1 (1): 1117829 [10.1080/23312041.2015.1117829] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Projections of rapidly rising surface temperatures over Africa under low mitigation." Environ. Res. Lett. 10 (085004): [doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/8/085004] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Global top-down smoke-aerosol emissions estimation using satellite fire radiative power measurements." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 14 (13): 6643-6667 [Full Text] [10.5194/acp-14-6643-2014] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Sensitivity of mesoscale modeling of smoke direct radiative effect to the emission inventory: a case study in northern sub-Saharan African region." Environmental Research Letters 9 (7): 075002 (14 pp) [10.1088/1748-9326/9/7/075002] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Integrated active fire retrievals and biomass burning emissions using complementary near-coincident ground, airborne and spaceborne sensor data." Remote Sensing of Environment 140 719–730 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.rse.2013.10.010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Surface albedo darkening from wildfires in northern sub-Saharan Africa." Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (6): 065003 [10.1088/1748-9326/9/6/065003] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Current and Future Perspectives of Aerosol Research at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society early view [10.1175/ BAMS-D-13-00153.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Coherent uncertainty analysis of aerosol measurements from multiple satellite sensors." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 13 (14): 6777-6805 [10.5194/acp-13-6777-2013] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "A sub-pixel-based calculation of fire radiative power from MODIS observations: 1." Remote Sensing of Environment 129 262-279 [10.1016/j.rse.2012.10.036] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Long-term statistical assessment of Aqua-MODIS aerosol optical depth over coastal regions: bias characteristics and uncertainty sources." Tellus B 65 20805 [10.3402/tellusb.v65i0.20805] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Mesoscale modeling and satellite observation of transport and mixing of smoke and dust particles over northern sub-Saharan African region." J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 118 12 [Full Text] [139–12] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Multi-sensor Aerosol Products Sampling System (MAPSS)." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 5 (5): 913-926 [10.5194/amt-5-913-2012] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Satellite contributions to the quantitative characterization of biomass burning for climate modeling." Atmos. Res. 111 1-28 [10.1016/j.atmosres.2012.03.007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Taking the pulse of pyrocumulus clouds." Atmospheric Environment 52 121-130 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.01.045] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Space-based observational constraints for 1-D fire smoke plume-rise models." J. Geophys. Res. 117 (D22): D22204 [Full Text] [10.1029/2012JD018370] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Accuracy assessment of Aqua-MODIS aerosol optical depth over coastal regions: importance of quality flag and sea surface wind speed." Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss. 5 (4): 5205-5243 [10.5194/amtd-5-5205-2012] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Global evaluation of the Collection 5 MODIS dark-target aerosol products over land." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 10 (21): 10399-10420 [10.5194/acp-10-10399-2010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Signs of a negative trend in the MODIS aerosol optical depth over the Southern Balkans." Atmos Env 44 (9): 1219-1228 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.11.024] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "The validity and utility of MODIS data for simple estimation of area burned and aerosols emitted by wildfire events." Int. J. Wildland Fire 19 (7): 844-852 [10.1071/WF09027] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Transport of dust and anthropogenic aerosols across Alexandria, Egypt." Ann Geophys 27 (7): 2869-2879 [10.5194/angeo-27-2869-2009] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Solar dimming and brightening over Thessaloniki, Greece, and Beijing, China." Tellus B 61 (4): 657-665 [10.1111/j.1600-0889.2009.00425.x] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Laboratory investigation of fire radiative energy and smoke aerosol emissions." Journal of Geophysical Research 113 (D14): D14S09 [10.1029/2007jd009659] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Global characterization of biomass-burning patterns using satellite measurements of fire radiative energy." Remote Sensing of Environment 112 (6): 2950-2962 [10.1016/j.rse.2008.02.009] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Estimating smoke emissions over the US Southern Great Plains using MODIS fire radiative power and aerosol observations." Atmospheric Environment 42 (9): 2007-2022 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2007.12.023] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Relationships between energy release, fuel mass loss, and trace gas and aerosol emissions during laboratory biomass fires." Journal of Geophysical Research 113 (D1): D01301 [10.1029/2007jd008679] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Global aerosol climatology from the MODIS satellite sensors." J. Geophys. Res. 113 (D14): D14S07 [10.1029/2007JD009661] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Use of MODIS products to simplify and evaluate a forest fire plume dispersion model for PM10 exposure assessment." Atmospheric Environment 42 (36): 8524-8532 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.05.008] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "Urban Visible/SWIR surface reflectance ratios from satellite and sun photometer measurements in Mexico City." Atmos Chem Phys 7 5467-5477 [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "The MODIS aerosol algorithm, products, and validation." J Atmos Sci 62 (4): 947-973 [10.1175/JAS3385.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "A method to derive smoke emission rates from MODIS fire radiative energy measurements." IEEE Trans on Geosc & Rem Sens 43 (11): 2636-2649 [10.1109/TGRS.2005.857328] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "A critical examination of the residual cloud contamination and diurnal sampling effects on MODIS estimates of aerosol over ocean." IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 43 (12): 2886-2897 [10.1109/TGRS.2005.858430] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Quantitative evaluation and intercomparison of morning and afternoon Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aerosol measurements from Terra and Aqua." J Geophys Res 110 (D10S03): 40201 [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "Global aerosol remote sensing from MODIS." Advances in Space Research 34 (4): 820-827 [10.1016/j.asr.2003.07.071] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "Evaluation of the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) retrievals of dust aerosol over the ocean during PRIDE." Journal of Geophysical Research 108 (D19): 8594 [10.1029/2002jd002460] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "MODIS observation of aerosols and estimation of aerosol radiative forcing over southern Africa during SAFARI 2000." Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmos. 108 (D13): 8499 [10.1029/2002jd002366] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "Comparative analysis of daytime fire detection algorithms using AVHRR data for the 1995 fire season in Canada: Perspective for MODIS." International Journal of Remote Sensing 24 (8): 1669-1690 [10.1080/01431160210144697] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "Fire and smoke observed from the earth observing system MODIS instrument - products validation and operational use." Int J Rem Sens 24 1765-1781 [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Analysis of the performance characteristics of the five-channel Microtops II Sun photometer for measuring aerosol optical thickness and precipitable water vapor." Journal of Geophysical Research 107 (D13): 4179 [10.1029/2001jd001302] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Temporal dynamics of soil and vegetation spectral responses in a semi-arid environment." International Journal of Remote Sensing 23 (19): 4073-4087 [10.1080/01431160110116338] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "A spatio-temporal approach for global validation and analysis of MODIS aerosol products." Geophysical Research Letters 29 (12): 8006 [10.1029/2001gl013206] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Light scattering by dust and anthropogenic aerosol at a remote site in the Negev desert, Israel." Journal of Geophysical Research 107 (D2): 1 - 18 [10.1029/2001jd900252] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Validation of MODIS aerosol optical depth retrieval over land." Geophysical Research Letters 29 (12): 1 - 4 [10.1029/2001gl013205] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Validation of MODIS aerosol retrieval over ocean." Geophys Res Lett 29 (12): [10.1029/2001GL013204] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Physical and chemical characteristics of aerosols over the Negev Desert (Israel) during summer 1996." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 106 (D5): 4871-4890 [10.1029/2000jd900556] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Full year cycle of desert dust spectral optical thickness and precipitable water vapor over Alexandria Egypt." J Geophys Res 106 18305-18316 [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Interrelationships between aerosol characteristics and light scattering during late winter in an Eastern Mediterranean arid environment." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 104 (D20): 24371-24393 [10.1029/1999jd900781] [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Fault Traces in the Arid Arava Valley Floor, Israel, Revealed by RADARSAT Surface Roughness Classification." Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 25 (3): 302-310 [10.1080/07038992.1999.10874728] [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Exploring the utility potential of SAR interferometric coherence images." International Journal of Remote Sensing 19 (6): 1147-1160 [10.1080/014311698215658] [Journal Article/Letter]

1997. "Chemical composition and light scattering of the atmospheric aerosol at a remote site in the Negev Desert, Israel." Journal of Aerosol Science 28 S73-S74 [10.1016/s0021-8502(97)85037-9] [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Segmentation of digital plane curves: A dynamic focusing approach." Pattern Recognition Letters 17 (7): 741-750 [10.1016/0167-8655(96)00015-3] [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Detection of drainage channel networks on digital satellite images." International Journal of Remote Sensing 17 (9): 1659-1678 [10.1080/01431169608948730] [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "A review of mixture modeling techniques for sub‐pixel land cover estimation." Remote Sensing Reviews 13 (3-4): 161-186 [10.1080/02757259609532303] [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Application of Fractal Techniques to the Comparative Evaluation of Two Methods of Extracting Channel Networks from Digital Elevation Models." Water Resources Research 32 (2): 389-399 [10.1029/95wr02762] [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Anthropogenic and natural radiatively active aerosol types at Sede Boker, Israel J. Aerosol Sei., 27, Suppl. 1 (1996), S47-S48." Journal of Aerosol Science 27 (1): S47 - S48 [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "A numerical approach to the analysis and classification of channel network patterns." Water Resources Research 30 (2): 161-174 [10.1029/93wr02279] [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "Computerized Construction of geological cross sections from digital maps." Computers & Geosciences 20 (9): 1321-1327 [] [Journal Article/Letter]

1993. "Reply [to “Comment on ‘A combined algorithm for automated drainage network extraction’ by Jean Chorowicz et al.”]." Water Resources Research 29 (2): 537-539 [10.1029/92wr02429] [Journal Article/Letter]

1992. "A combined algorithm for automated drainage network extraction." Water Resources Research 28 (5): 1293-1302 [10.1029/91wr03098] [Journal Article/Letter]

Special Experience

2009-2011 Detailee Program Manager at NASA Headquarters Earth Science Division
2011-2014 Deputy Project Scientist of the future Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS) mission

Selected Public Outreach

Public Lectures:

2014 - Present

Invited Lecture: “The Earth’s Changing Climate and Us”, St. Paul’s School for Girls, Baltimore (presented via Webinar on the occasion of Earthday Celebration), 22 April 2010.

Invited Lecture: “Our environment and our future”, University Secondary School, Enugu, Nigeria, 4 November 2008 (on the occasion of UNEC Dept. Geoinformatics career day).

Invited Lecture: “How wildfires affect us all far and near”, Guest Scientist Lecture aboard the Explorer of the Seas, Caribbean, 10 August 2007.

Invited Lecture: Ichoku, MODIS Atmosphere Parameters Subset Statistics (MAPSS), MODIS Data Workshop, Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County, 10-January-2007.