Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Fabrizio Sassi

(Associate Chief)

Fabrizio Sassi's Contact Card & Information.
Org Code: 675
Mail Code 675
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

I have been a Federal Civil Servant since 2009, when I joined the Space Sciences Division of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). While at NRL, I was the co-leader of an ONR-funded project that produced the first coupling between the WACCM-X and the SAMI3 using ESMF. Prior to NRL, I was a Project Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), where I was the sole developer of the first version of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM1b); I worked with UARS satellite data investigating the synoptic structure of water vapor in the upper troposphere, tracer distribution in the middle atmosphere, and tidal variability, I was one of the founding members of the SPARC/DynVar initiative ( I am a past member of the Middle Atmosphere Committee of the American Meteorological Society, and a member of the International Committee of the Middle Atmosphere (a committee of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences – IAMAS). In January 2023, I came to the Ionosphere, Thermosphere and Mesosphere Physics Laboratory of the Heliophysics Science Division of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where my research has focused on the coupling between atmospheric regions, from the ground to the exosphere.

Current Projects

A link between weather regimes: Large-scale teleconnections in the Earth’s atmosphere and ionosphere

Earth's Thermosphere

LWS funded project to understand whole atmosphere interactions mediated by dynamical variability

Development of a modeling technology to use heliophysics data in GEOS

Earth's Thermosphere

IRAD project: use of TIMED/SABER data in GEOS data assimilation cycling. Aligned with vector 3 of Goddard 2040 vision

Representation of buoyancy oscillations in the vertically extended Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model

Atmospheric Dynamics

STG: understand dynamical variability in the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere; find optimal tuning of parameterized unresolved momentum flux. Aligns with vector 3 of Goddard 2040 vision.


Associate Laboratory Chief for ITM


November 2023 - Present

Research AST, atmospheres and ionospheres

NASA - Greenbelt MD

2023 - Present

Research Physicist

Naval Research laboratory - Washington DC

2009 - 2023

I was hired as a civil servant at the Naval Research Laboratory in April 2009. During my tenure at NRL, I led or participated in cross-disciplines projects that revealed the interactions between atmospheric and ionospheric physics. I conducted independent research that has illustrated the role of atmospheric weather in the structure and variability of the upper atmosphere.

Project Scientist

National Center for Atmospheric Research - Boulder CO

1999 - 2008

During the appointment in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division, I developed the first version of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM), a whole atmosphere model with a lid at about 150 km. WACCM was the first truly whole atmosphere model in the US that included interactive chemistry and physical processes from the ground to the lower thermosphere.


Atmospheric Systems and Analysis - Broomfield CO

1995 - 2000

During the appointment at ASAC, I applied numerical and mathematical tools to the analysis of NASA Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS) data. By converting the asynoptic fields to synoptic structure, I investigated tidal wave amplitudes, the structure of convection in the upper atmosphere, and nature of dynamics in the mesosphere.

Associate Scientist

NationalCenter for Atmospheric Reserch - Boulder CO

1994 - 1995

During this appointment, I continued the research commenced during my post-Doctoral appointment, by developing a mechanistic model of wave propagation in the middle atmosphere generated by tropical convective systems.

Post-Doctoral Fellow

National Center for Atmospheric Research - Boulder CO

1992 - 1994

During my post-Doctoral appointment, I started a collaboration with CU scientists to determine the spectrum of waves necessary to drive the Semiannual Oscillation of winds at the stratopause. This has led to a simple one-dimensional model that illustrated how different components of the gravity wave spectrum affect the tropical wave dynamics.


·      BS, Physics, 1987, Univ. of L’Aquila (Italy)

·      Ph.D. in Physics, 1992, Univ. of Bologna (Italy)

Selected Publications


2023. "Modeling the Day‐to‐Day Variability of Midnight Equatorial Plasma Bubbles with SAMI3/SD‐WACCM‐X." Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics [10.1029/2023ja031585] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Impacts of acoustic and gravity waves on the ionosphere." Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 9 [10.3389/fspas.2022.1064152] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Improving ionospheric predictability requires accurate simulation of the mesospheric polar vortex." Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 9 [10.3389/fspas.2022.1041426] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Intercomparison of middle atmospheric meteorological analyses for the Northern Hemisphere winter 2009–2010." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 21 (23): 17577-17605 [10.5194/acp-21-17577-2021] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Mesospheric Precursors to the Major Stratospheric Sudden Warming of 2009: Validation and Dynamical Attribution Using a Ground-to-Edge-of-Space Data Assimilation System." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 3 (4): [10.1029/2011ms000067] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Chemistry–Climate Model Simulations of Twenty-First Century Stratospheric Climate and Circulation Changes." J. Climate 23 (20): 5349-5374 [10.1175/2010JCLI3404.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "A New Look at Stratospheric Sudden Warmings. Part II: Evaluation of Numerical Model Simulations." J. Climate 20 (3): 470-488 [10.1175/JCLI3994.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Simulations of anthropogenic change in the strength of the Brewer–Dobson circulation." Clim Dyn 27 (7-8): 727-741 [10.1007/s00382-006-0162-4] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "Tropical Cumulus Convection and Upward-Propagating Waves in Middle-Atmospheric GCMs." J. Atmos. Sci. 60 (22): 2765-2782 [10.1175/1520-0469(2003)060<2765:TCCAUW>2.0.CO;2] [Journal Article/Letter]