Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Dirk Alexander Aurin

(Senior Research Scientist)


Org Code: 616

Mail Code: 616.2
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Brief Bio

My career has focused on ocean color remote sensing research since 1998 in a number of settings including government laboratories, the private sector, and academia.

Research Interests

Estuarine Circulation Mapping and Structure Modeling

Earth Science: Physical Oceanography

Observing and modeling transverse-vertical structure, residual circulation, and exchange transport in Long Island Sound from a multi-year ferry observatory.

Ocean Color in a Complex Estuary

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Developing ocean color remote sensing algorithms for the retrieval of inherent optical properties in the complex waters of Long Island Sound.

Resolving Ocean Color in Complex, Coastal Systems

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

This research focused on overcoming the many hurdles in retrieving accurate ocean color from legacy satellite instruments such as MODIS and SeaWiFS in complex, turbid, near-shore waters. Specialized atmospheric correction approaches were introduced and validated in target regions including the Amazon River Plume, Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River Plume, and the Yangtze River Plume, and scales of variability in bio-optical properties were evaluated for making recommendations on spatial resolution of future missions.

Current Projects

HyperCP (Hyperspectral In Situ Support for PACE Community Processor)

Remote Sensing

HyperCP is designed to provide hyperspectral in situ support for the PACE mission but also multispectral missions such as Sentinel-3 by processing automated and manual, above-water, hyperspectral ocean color radiometry data using state-of-the-art methods and protocols for quality assurance, uncertainty estimation/propagation, sky/sunglint correction, convolution to satellite wavebands, and ocean color product retrieval. Data output are formatted to text files for submission to the SeaBASS and OCDB databases and saved as comprehensive HDF5 records with automated processing reports. The package is designed to facilitate rigorous, flexible, and transparent data processing for the ocean color remote sensing community, particularly PIs funded by NASA to submit such radiometric data to SeaBASS. Radiometry processed in HyperCP are used for water optical characterization, ocean color product retrieval algorithm development, and orbital platform validation.

Commercial Satellite Imagery Evaluation

Remote Sensing

Evaluate the utility of high spatial resolution commercially available satellite data for conducting ocean color research.


Research Scientist

Universities Space Research Association - Goddard Space Flight Center

September 2018 - Present

Conduct research directed at understanding ocean optics, biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics including high spatial and temporal variability. This research will emphasize the marine carbon cycle and the interactions and feedbacks between biological (e.g., primary production), chemical (e.g., organic carbon and nutrient balances and fluxes), and physical processes (river discharge, mixed layer dynamics, circulation, etc.) and entails working with optical and chemical field data sets, satellite data products from various sensors, and model results. The scope of the work includes processing and analysis of in situ radiometric measurements, satellite data processing and analysis, and radiative transfer simulations. Research activities involve the development and evaluation of satellite products for existing satellite sensors and in preparation for the PACE mission and participation in field campaigns. This research is conducted in support of the NASA Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program.

Staff Research Scientist

Science Systems and Analysis Incorporated - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

April 2011 - May 2014

Oceanography and ocean color remote sensing focused on high spatial resolution satellite algorithms for complex optical systems, global river sediment discharge, deep ocean dissolved carbon retrievals and climatology using current and historic satellite and in situ mission data. Analytical and field support for the GEOCAPE mission to develop a NASA hyperspectral geostationary ocean color satellite, and other missions.

Doctoral Student, Graduate Fellow, Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant

University of Connecticut - Department of Marine Sciences

September 2004 - December 2010

Analytical and field research developing and optimizing ocean color algorithms for remote sensing applications in Long Island Sound including synoptic retrievals of inherent optical properties, chlorophyll concentration, and total suspended materials from satellite imagery.

Doctoral Student, Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant

University of Connecticut - Department of Marine Sciences

September 2002 - August 2004

Developing ferry-based observatory for water quality and exchange transport at the mouth of Long Island Sound. Field and analytical support for research into vertical structure and  residual circulation.

Physical Scientist, Computer Specialist

Jordon & Howard Technologies - NOAA Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research

2001 - 2002

Establish satellite-based communications, database archiving and near-realtime web distribution for a moored water quality platform associated with MERHAB Florida.

Physical Scientist, Remote Sensing Technician

TPMC, REMSA - NOAA Coastal Services Center

1998 - 2001

Coordination of projects for coastal remote sensing and GIS applications. Data processing and analysis associated with remote sensing applications including LIDAR beach mapping, HAB forecasting, ocean color algorithm evaluation, instrument development, and coastal land use change. Web and CD-ROM development for outreach to resource managers.

NASA Space Grant Scholar

University of Charleston - University of the Virgin Islands

1997 - 1997

One year Bilateral Undergraduate Research Exchange investigating Rs-CVN-type variable stars and support in the refurbishment of the Etelman Observatory in St. Thomas, USVI.

Teaching Experience

University of Connecticut at Avery Point
2007 Fall, 2008 Fall, 2009 Fall: General Physics with Calculus Laboratory
2007 Fall, 2008 Fall, 2009 Fall: General Physics Laboratory


University of Connecticut
Department of Marine Sciences
Ph.D., Oceanography, December 2010

Advisory Committee: Heidi M. Dierssen, Hans Dam, James Edson, Micheal Twardowski
Thesis: Developing ocean color remote sensing algorithms for retrieving inherent optical properties and biogeochemical parameters in the optically complex waters of Long Island Sound.

Cornell University
Satellite Remote Sensing in Oceanography 2008

Instructor: Bruce Monger
A course teaching the skills needed to work independently to acquire, analyze and visualize data sets derived from a variety of satellite sensors (e.g., SeaWiFS, MODIS, MERIS, VIIRS, OLI on Landsat-8, OLCI on Sentinal-3, AVHRR, SeaWinds, SSM/I and AVISO Merged Altimetry).

University of Maine
Darling Marine Center
Ocean Optics, Radiative Transfer 2004

Instructors: Emmanuel Boss, Curt Mobley, Colin Roesler, Mary Jane Perry
Two intensive courses covering the fundamentals of coastal and ocean optics emphasizing instrumentation, radiative transfer theory and the use of Hydrolight, ocean color remote rensing, polarization, particle size distribution, statistical methods including neural networks, and the links between optical measurements and the underlying biogeochemistry.

University of Charleston
Department of Physics and Astronomy
B.S., Physics with Astronomy Concentration, June 1998

Magna Cum Laude
Advisor: Donald M. Drost

Professional Service

Peer Reviewer: Remote Sensing of Environment, Applied Optics, IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, Optics Express, PLOS ONE

Peer Panel Reviewer: NASA ROSES

Session Co-chair: International Ocean Colour Science Meeting, 2019

Special Experience

2014-2018: Circumnavigation of the world (~69,000 km) under sail as Captain of 20 ton ketch S/V “Peregrine” by way of the Panama Canal, the Torres Straits, and around the Cape of Good Hope.