Claire L. Parkinson has been a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center since July 1978 and a Senior Fellow at Goddard since 2005. Her research emphasis has been on polar sea ice and its connections to the rest of the climate system and to climate change, with a particular emphasis on satellite remote sensing. This work has involved satellite data set generation and analysis, including the determination of decreases in Arctic sea ice coverage since the 1970s and examination of their regional variabilities and impacts, plus the quantification and analysis of the very different time series of sea ice changes in the Antarctic. Claire has also developed a computer model of sea ice, has done field work in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, and is the lead author of an atlas of Arctic sea ice from satellite data and a coauthor of two other sea ice atlases.
Since May 1993, Claire has additionally been the Project Scientist for the Aqua satellite mission, which launched in May 2002 and is transmitting data on many atmospheric, ocean, land, and ice variables. She has also written an introductory book on examining the Earth with satellite imagery, has coauthored with Warren Washington a university textbook on climate modeling, has coedited two books on satellite observations related to global change, and is lead editor of a Data Products Handbook for NASA's Earth Observing System and lead editor of a NASA Earth Science Reference Handbook. In 2010 she published a book titled Coming Climate Crisis? Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix about climate change and her concerns regarding the possibility of implementation of potentially dangerous geoengineering projects. In 2011 she led a ‘Women of Goddard’ outreach effort that included production of a book on Women of Goddard: Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and a set of six related posters. Outside of her NASA work, she has written a book on the history of western science from 1202 to 1930.
Claire is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and Phi Beta Kappa.