Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Erica L McGrath-Spangler

(Senior Research Scientist)

Erica L McGrath-Spangler's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.5838
Org Code: 610.1
Mail Code 610.1
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Senior Research Scientist

Morgan State University/GESTAR II - Greenbelt, MD

December 2021 - Present

Research Scientist

Universities Space Research Association/GESTAR - Greenbelt, MD

June 2012 - November 2021

Graduate Research Assistant

Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University - Fort Collins, CO

August 2005 - June 2012


Colorado State University - Fort Collins, CO

Ph.D. Atmospheric Science

Thesis: Importance of Boundary Layer Entrainment for Surface Fluxes over Land

Colorado State University - Fort Collins, CO

M.S. Atmospheric Science

Thesis: Entrainment Effects of Overshooting Thermals on Land-Atmosphere Interactions

University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI

B.S. Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences

B.S. Mathematics

Selected Publications


2024. "Using OSSEs to Evaluate GXS Impact in the Context of International Coordination." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 41 (3): 261-278 [10.1175/jtech-d-23-0141.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Robustness of Observing System Simulation Experiments." Tellus A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography 75 (1): 309-333 [10.16993/tellusa.3254] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Using OSSEs to Evaluate the Impacts of Geostationary Infrared Sounders." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 39 (12): 1903-1918 [] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Impact of assimilating adaptively thinned AIRS cloud-cleared radiances on the analysis of Polar Lows and Mediterranean Sea Tropical-like Cyclone in a global modeling and data assimilation framework." Weather and Forecasting 37 (7): 1117–1134 [10.1175/waf-d-21-0068.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Sensitivity of low tropospheric Arctic temperatures to assimilation of AIRS cloud‐cleared radiances: Impact on mid‐latitude waves." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 147 (741): 4032-4047 [10.1002/qj.4166] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Analysis of the Planetary Boundary Layer Height during DISCOVER-AQ Baltimore–Washington, D.C., with Lidar and High-Resolution WRF Modeling." Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 57 (11): 2679-2696 [10.1175/jamc-d-18-0014.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Impact of adaptively thinned AIRS cloud-cleared radiances on tropical cyclone representation in a global data assimilation and forecast system." Weather and Forecasting 33 (4): 908-931 [10.1175/waf-d-17-0175.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Impact of planetary boundary layer turbulence on model climate and tracer transport." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 15 (13): 7269-7286 [10.5194/acp-15-7269-2015] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Comparison of GEOS-5 AGCM planetary boundary layer depths computed with various definitions." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 14 (13): 6717-6727 [Full Text] [10.5194/acp-14-6717-2014] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Global seasonal variations of midday planetary boundary layer depth from CALIPSO space-borne LIDAR." J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 118 (3): 1226–1233 [Full Text] [10.1002/jgrd.50198] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Estimates of North American summertime planetary boundary layer depths derived from space-borne lidar." J. Geophys. Res. 117 (D15): D15101 [Full Text] [10.1029/2012JD017615] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Assessment of a constructivist-motivated mentoring program to enhance the teaching skills of atmospheric science graduate students." J. College Science Teaching 41 (2): 72-81 [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Impact of entrainment from overshooting thermals on land-atmosphere interactions during summer 1999." Tellus B 62 (5): 441-454 [Full Text] [10.1111/j.1600-0889.2010.00482.x] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Sensitivity of land-atmosphere exchanges to overshooting PBL thermals in an idealized coupled model." J. Adv. Model. Earth Syst. 1 (14): 13pp [Full Text] [10.3894/JAMES.2009.1.14] [Journal Article/Letter]

Teaching Experience

Colorado College - Colorado Springs, CO
Spring 2010 Air: Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry (EV 431)
Co-taught course for upper level undergraduate students covering mid-latitude cyclone development, geostrophic flow, atmospheric structure, and other aspects of atmospheric science

Colorado State University - Fort Collins, CO
2007-2009, 2011 Weather and Climate for Teachers
Assisted in summer workshops to teach basic atmospheric physics to secondary school teachers

Colorado State University - Fort Collins, CO
Fall 2008 Introduction to Climate (ATS 606)
Teaching Assistant wrote and graded homework, held office hours, led several lectures, and led review sessions

University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI
2003 – 2005 Tutor for the UW athletic department
Tutored atmospheric and oceanic science classes for athletes


2010 – 2011 Shrake Culler Scholarship - Engineering
2008 – 2011 NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
2009 8th International Carbon Dioxide Conference poster award
2005 – 2006 American Meteorological Society Fellowship
2005 – 2006 Colorado State Graduate Fellowship
2004 – 2005 Wisconsin/Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship
2004 Horn Award for excellence in overall performance as an undergraduate in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences


Global Planetary Boundary Layer Depth Trends and the Impact on Atmospheric Aerosols and Greenhouse Gases

Atmospheric Composition: Modeling and Analysis - NASA - Awarded: 2015-02-13

Dates: 2015-01-30  - 2018-01-29

Coverage: 0.5

Understanding Spatiotemporal Variability in Urban Mixed Layer Heights through Observations and Modeling

NASA/Atmospheric Composition Campaign Data Analysis and Modeling - NASA - Awarded: 2014-10-01

Dates: 2014-10-01  - 2017-09-30

Coverage: 0.2

Using AIRS and CrIS data to understand processes affecting tropical cyclone structure in a global data assimilation and forecasting framework

The Science of TERRA, AQUA, and SUOMI NPP - NASA (NNH17ZDA001N-TASNPP) - Awarded: 2018-06-26

Dates: 2018-05-15  - 2021-05-14

Coverage: 1.0

The impact of assimilating SMAP soil moisture on the prediction of tropical cyclone structure and precipitation in proximity to land, and after landfall

The Soil Moisture Active-Passive Mission Science Team - NASA - Awarded: 2020-10-01

Dates: 2020-11-01  - 2023-10-31

Coverage: 0.2

Other Professional Information

h-index: 7

13 total publications

Talks, Presentations and Posters


Global Seasonal Variations of Planetary Boundary Layer Depth

November 2013

School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at Stony Brook University

Importance of Boundary Layer Entrainment for CO2 Fluxes Over Land

October 2012

Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Maryland

Importance of Boundary Layer Entrainment for Surface Fluxes Over Land


Naval Research Laboratory

Importance of Planetary Boundary Layer Processes on Surface Fluxes

October 2011

Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement

Importance of Planetary Boundary Layer Processes on Surface Fluxes

September 2011

University of Wisconsin, Space Science and Engineering Center

Carbon cycle reliance on the planetary boundary layer

April 2011

National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc.


Selected Public Outreach

Women In Engineering Developing Revolutionary Engineers and Mentors Conference

2015 - 2016

Interacted with high school junior and sophomore women at the information fair held at the University of Maryland

National Air and Space Museum Women in Air and Space Family Day

October 2014 - October 2014

Primary person responsible for collecting EPO materials for the Women@NASA booth and shared NASA Earth science research with the public, including information about modeling activities at the GMAO and observations from the AURA and GPM satellites

NASA’s Earth Day at Union Station

May 2014 - May 2014

Engaged the public by discussing Earth science using images from USRA's Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Week

October 2011 - October 2011

Facilitated hands-on physics experiments for middle-school children and the public at the University of Texas-Pan American

University of Wisconsin Mentorship Program for Women in Mathematics and Sciences

October 2004 - June 2005

Mentored female high school students and worked on mathematical problems to retain female students in mathematics and the sciences

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union

2007 - Present

American Meteorological Society

2016 - Present