Sciences and Exploration Directorate

John E Yorks



Org Code: 612

Mail Code: 612
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Employer: NASA

Research Interests

Cloud and Aerosol Remote Sensing

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Lidar remote sensing, lidar systems development, cloud properties, aerosol properties, aerosol transport, elastic backscatter lidar, HSRL, Doppler wind lidar, cirrus, cloud/aerosol radiative effects, satellite remote sensing, Earth’s climate and atmosphere, atmospheric processes, cloud and aerosol lidar retrieval algorithms, airborne and spaceborne lidar, winter storm dynamics, lidar-radar synergy

Current Projects

Space-Based and Airborne Lidar

Remote Sensing

  • Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) on the International Space Station (ISS)
  • Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL)
  • Airborne Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (ACATS)

Satellite and Airborne Missions

Atmospheric Measurement

  • Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS)
  • Earth System Observatory (ESO) Atmospheric Observing System (AOS) mission


Research Assistant

Penn State University - University Park, PA

July 2006 - January 2008

Lead Research Scientist

Science Systems and Applications, Inc. - NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

February 2008 - August 2015

Research Physical Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

August 2015 - Present


2006 - B.S. - Meteorology, Millersville University, Millersville, PA.
2007 - M.S. - Meteorology, Penn State University, University Park, PA.
2014 - PhD - Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union (AGU)


2006 - Present

American Meteorological Society (AMS)


2004 - Present

Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)


2015 - Present


  • 2008 Exceptional Scientific Research, Mesoscale Atmospheric Branch, NASA GSFC
  • 2008 NASA Group Achievement Award – TC4 Team
  • 2009 SSAI Publication Award
  • 2011 NASA Group Achievement Award – GloPac Team
  • 2011 SSAI Publication Award (2)
  • 2014 Outstanding Performance - Instrumentation, Atmospheric Sciences, NASA GSFC
  • 2014 NASA IRAD Innovator of the Year, Team Award (CATS)
  • 2015 NASA Group Achievement Award – CATS Team
  • 2016 Best Science Highlight, Atmospheric Sciences, NASA GSFC
  • 2018 NASA Special Act Award for chairing the Science Directorate Committee
  • 2019 Robert H. Goddard (RHG) Honor Award – Science
  • 2020 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (EAM)

Special Experience

  • Participant in the 2005 UCAR Undergraduate Leadership Workshop in Boulder, CO
  • Co-Investigator funded to provide assessment of CALIPSO retrieval uncertainties and examining cirrus cloud properties, 2009-2011.
  • Co-Investigator funded to integrate the Airborne Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (ACATS) lidar to aircraft, 2009-2011.
  • Co-Investigator funded to provide Cloud Physics Lidar measurements for the SEAC4RS field campaign, 2011-2013.
  • Committee member, NASA AeroCenter, 2013 – 2016.
  • Science Lead, International Space Station (ISS) Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), 2013 – present.
  • Director, NASA Earth Science Young Scientist Forum, 2013 – present.
  • Co-Investigator funded to analyze synergistic ice cloud observations from eMAS, RSP, and CPL, 2014-present.
  • Science Principal Investigator funded to evaluate the vertical variability of clouds and aerosols over large and small horizontal scales using CALIPSO and CATS data, 2016-2018.
  • Co-Investigator funded to quantify Dust Deposition into Oceans Through Integrating Measurements from CALIPSO Lidar and Other Satellite Sensors, 2016-2019.
  • Co-Investigator funded to characterize Aerosol Transport from Mid-Latitudes to Polar Regions with Twin Spaceborne Lidars and GEOS-5 Model, 2016-2019.
  • Member, Science Impact Team for Aerosol-Cloud-Convection-Precipitation (A-CCP) Decadal Survey Dedicated Observable Study Team, 2018-2021.
  • Member, Technology Team for Planetary Boundary Layer Incubation Study, 2020-present.
  • Co-Investigator funded to study cloud and precipitation retrievals from combined satellite lidar, radar and broad-band radiometer observations, 2019- present.
  • Co-Investigator funded to untangle interactions between Tropical North Atlantic dynamics and Saharan dust using observations from the joint NASA-ESA Aeolus Validation Campaign, 2021- present.
  • Deputy Principal Investigator, Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS), 2018-present.
  • Deputy Project Scientist, Earth System Observatory (ESO) Atmospheric Observing System (AOS) mission - Inclined Orbit, Pre-Phase A, 2021-present.



McGill, M. J., P. A. Selmer, A. W. Kupchock, and J. E. Yorks. 2023. Machine learning-enabled real-time detection of cloud and aerosol layers using airborne lidar Frontiers in Remote Sensing 4 [10.3389/frsen.2023.1116817]

Yorks, J. E., J. Wang, M. J. McGill, et al. M. B. Follette-Cook, E. P. Nowottnick, J. S. Reid, P. R. Colarco, J. Zhang, O. Kalashnikova, H. Yu, F. Marenco, J. A. Santanello, T. M. Weckwerth, Z. Li, J. R. Campbell, P. Yang, M. Diao, V. Noel, K. G. Meyer, J. L. Carr, M. Garay, K. E. Christian, A. Bennedetti, A. M. Ring, A. Crawford, M. J. Pavolonis, V. Aquila, J. Kim, and S. Kondragunta. 2023. A SmallSat Concept to Resolve Diurnal and Vertical Variations of Aerosols, Clouds, and Boundary Layer Height Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 104 (4): E815–E836 [10.1175/bams-d-21-0179.1]

Lu, Z., J. Wang, X. Chen, et al. J. Zeng, Y. Wang, X. Xu, K. E. Christian, J. E. Yorks, E. P. Nowottnick, J. S. Reid, and P. Xian. 2023. First Mapping of Monthly and Diurnal Climatology of Saharan Dust Layer Height Over the Atlantic Ocean From EPIC/DSCOVR in Deep Space Geophysical Research Letters 50 (5): [10.1029/2022gl102552]

Nowottnick, E. P., K. E. Christian, J. E. Yorks, et al. M. J. McGill, N. Midzak, P. A. Selmer, Z. Lu, J. Wang, and S. V. Salinas. 2022. Aerosol Detection from the Cloud–Aerosol Transport System on the International Space Station: Algorithm Overview and Implications for Diurnal Sampling Atmosphere 13 (9): 1439 [10.3390/atmos13091439]

Midzak, N., J. Yorks, J. Zhang, et al. J. Limbacher, M. Garay, and O. Kalashnikova. 2022. Constrained Retrievals of Aerosol Optical Properties Using Combined Lidar and Imager Measurements During the FIREX-AQ Campaign Frontiers in Remote Sensing 3 [10.3389/frsen.2022.818605]

McMurdie, L. A., G. M. Heymsfield, J. E. Yorks, et al. S. A. Braun, G. Skofronick-Jackson, R. M. Rauber, S. Yuter, B. Colle, G. M. McFarquhar, M. Poellot, D. R. Novak, T. J. Lang, R. Kroodsma, M. McLinden, M. Oue, P. Kollias, M. R. Kumjian, S. J. Greybush, A. J. Heymsfield, J. A. Finlon, V. L. McDonald, and S. Nicholls. 2022. Chasing Snowstorms: The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) Campaign Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society [10.1175/bams-d-20-0246.1]

Chen, X., J. Wang, X. Xu, et al. M. Zhou, H. Zhang, L. Castro Garcia, P. R. Colarco, S. J. Janz, J. Yorks, M. McGill, J. S. Reid, M. de Graaf, and S. Kondragunta. 2021. First retrieval of absorbing aerosol height over dark target using TROPOMI oxygen B band: Algorithm development and application for surface particulate matter estimates Remote Sensing of Environment 265 112674 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112674]

Palm, S. P., P. Selmer, J. Yorks, S. Nicholls, and E. Nowottnick. 2021. Planetary Boundary Layer Height Estimates From ICESat-2 and CATS Backscatter Measurements Frontiers in Remote Sensing 2 [10.3389/frsen.2021.716951]

Marshak, A., A. Ackerman, A. Da Silva, et al. T. Eck, B. Holben, R. Kahn, R. Kleidman, K. Knobelspiesse, R. C. Levy, A. Lyapustin, L. Oreopoulos, L. Remer, O. Torres, T. Varnai, G. Wen, and J. Yorks. 2021. Aerosol properties in cloudy environments from remote sensing observations: a review of the current state of knowledge Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 1-57 [10.1175/bams-d-20-0225.1]

Yorks, J. E., P. A. Selmer, A. Kupchock, et al. E. P. Nowottnick, K. E. Christian, D. Rusinek, N. Dacic, and M. J. McGill. 2021. Aerosol and Cloud Detection Using Machine Learning Algorithms and Space-Based Lidar Data Atmosphere 12 (5): 606 [10.3390/atmos12050606]

Yu, Y., O. V. Kalashnikova, M. J. Garay, et al. H. Lee, M. Choi, G. S. Okin, J. E. Yorks, J. R. Campbell, and J. Marquis. 2021. A global analysis of diurnal variability in dust and dust mixture using CATS observations Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 21 (3): 1427-1447 [10.5194/acp-21-1427-2021]

Midzak, N., J. E. Yorks, J. Zhang, et al. B. van Diedenhoven, S. Woods, and M. McGill. 2020. A Classification of Ice Crystal Habits Using Combined Lidar and Scanning Polarimeter Observations during the SEAC4RS Campaign Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 37 (12): 2185-2196 [10.1175/jtech-d-20-0037.1]

O'Sullivan, D., F. Marenco, C. L. Ryder, et al. Y. Pradhan, Z. Kipling, B. Johnson, A. Benedetti, M. Brooks, M. McGill, J. Yorks, and P. Selmer. 2020. Models transport Saharan dust too low in the atmosphere: a comparison of the MetUM and CAMS forecasts with observations Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 20 (21): 12955-12982 [10.5194/acp-20-12955-2020]

Christian, K., J. Yorks, and S. Das. 2020. Differences in the Evolution of Pyrocumulonimbus and Volcanic Stratospheric Plumes as Observed by CATS and CALIOP Space-Based Lidars Atmosphere 11 (10): 1035 [10.3390/atmos11101035]

Knobelspiesse, K., H. M. Barbosa, C. Bradley, et al. C. Bruegge, B. Cairns, G. Chen, J. Chowdhary, A. Cook, A. Di Noia, B. van Diedenhoven, D. J. Diner, R. Ferrare, G. Fu, M. Gao, M. Garay, J. Hair, D. Harper, G. van Harten, O. Hasekamp, M. Helmlinger, C. Hostetler, O. Kalashnikova, A. Kupchock, K. Longo De Freitas, H. Maring, J. V. Martins, B. McBride, M. McGill, K. Norlin, A. Puthukkudy, B. Rheingans, J. Rietjens, F. C. Seidel, A. da Silva, M. Smit, S. Stamnes, Q. Tan, S. Val, A. Wasilewski, F. Xu, X. Xu, and J. Yorks. 2020. The Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) airborne field campaign Earth System Science Data 12 (3): 2183-2208 [10.5194/essd-12-2183-2020]

Dolinar, E. K., J. R. Campbell, S. Lolli, et al. S. C. Ozog, J. E. Yorks, C. Camacho, Y. Gu, A. Bucholtz, and M. J. McGill. 2020. Sensitivities in Satellite Lidar‐Derived Estimates of Daytime Top‐of‐the‐Atmosphere Optically Thin Cirrus Cloud Radiative Forcing: A Case Study Geophysical Research Letters 47 (17): [10.1029/2020gl088871]

Mcgill, M. J., R. J. Swap, J. E. Yorks, P. A. Selmer, and S. J. Piketh. 2020. Observation and quantification of aerosol outflow from southern Africa using spaceborne lidar South African Journal of Science 116 [10.17159/sajs.2020/6398]

Leifer, I., C. Melton, R. Chatfield, et al. X. Cui, M. L. Fischer, M. Fladeland, W. Gore, D. L. Hlavka, L. T. Iraci, J. Marrero, J.-M. Ryoo, T. Tanaka, E. Yates, and J. E. Yorks. 2020. Air pollution inputs to the Mojave Desert by fusing surface mobile and airborne in situ and airborne and satellite remote sensing: A case study of interbasin transport with numerical model validation Atmospheric Environment 224 117184 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2019.117184]

Pauly, R. M., J. E. Yorks, D. L. Hlavka, et al. M. J. McGill, V. Amiridis, S. P. Palm, S. D. Rodier, M. A. Vaughan, P. A. Selmer, A. W. Kupchock, H. Baars, and A. Gialitaki. 2019. Cloud Aerosol Transport System (CATS) 1064 nm calibration and validation Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 12 6241–6258 [10.5194/amt-12-6241-2019]

Lee, L., J. Zhang, J. S. Reid, and J. E. Yorks. 2019. Investigation of CATS aerosol products and application toward global diurnal variation of aerosols Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 19 12687-12707 [10.5194/acp-19-12687-2019]

Proestakis, E., V. Amiridis, E. Marinou, et al. I. Binietoglou, A. Ansmann, U. Wandinger, J. Hofer, J. Yorks, E. Nowottnick, A. Makhmudov, A. Papayannis, A. Pietruczuk, A. Gialitaki, A. Apituley, A. Szkop, C. Muñoz Porcar, D. Bortoli, D. Dionisi, D. Althausen, D. Mamali, D. Balis, D. Nicolae, E. Tetoni, G. L. Liberti, H. Baars, I. Mattis, I. S. Stachlewska, K. A. Voudouri, L. Mona, M. Mylonaki, M. R. Perrone, M. J. Costa, M. Sicard, N. Papagiannopoulos, N. Siomos, P. Burlizzi, R. Pauly, R. Engelmann, S. Abdullaev, and G. Pappalardo. 2019. EARLINET evaluation of the CATS Level 2 aerosol backscatter coefficient product Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 19 (18): 11743-11764 [10.5194/acp-19-11743-2019]

Christian, K., J. Wang, C. Ge, et al. D. Peterson, E. Hyer, J. Yorks, and M. McGill. 2019. Radiative Forcing and Stratospheric Warming of Pyrocumulonimbus Smoke Aerosols: First Modeling Results With Multisensor (EPIC, CALIPSO, and CATS) Views from Space Geophysical Research Letters 46 (16): 10061-10071 [10.1029/2019gl082360]

Noel, V., H. Chepfer, M. Chiriaco, and J. Yorks. 2018. The diurnal cycle of cloud profiles over land and ocean between 51°S and 51°N, seen by the CATS spaceborne lidar from the International Space Station Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 18 (13): 9457-9473 [10.5194/acp-18-9457-2018]

Rajapakshe, C., Z. Zhang, J. E. Yorks, et al. H. Yu, Q. Tan, K. Meyer, S. Platnick, and D. M. Winker. 2017. Seasonally transported aerosol layers over southeast Atlantic are closer to underlying clouds than previously reported Geophysical Research Letters [10.1002/2017gl073559]

Sinclair, K., B. van Diedenhoven, B. Cairns, et al. J. Yorks, A. Wasilewski, and M. McGill. 2017. Remote Sensing of Multiple Cloud Layer Heights using Multi-Angular Measurements Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions 1-23 [10.5194/amt-10-2361-2017]

Hughes, E. J., J. Yorks, N. A. Krotkov, A. M. da Silva, and M. McGill. 2016. Using CATS Near-Realtime Lidar Observations to Monitor and Constrain Volcanic Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Forecasts Geophysical Research Letters [10.1002/2016gl070119]

Wu, L., O. Hasekamp, B. van Diedenhoven, et al. B. Cairns, J. E. Yorks, and J. Chowdhary. 2016. Passive remote sensing of aerosol layer height using near-UV multiangle polarization measurements Geophysical Research Letters 43 (16): 8783-8790 [10.1002/2016gl069848]

Alexandrov, M. D., B. Cairns, B. van Diedenhoven, et al. A. S. Ackerman, A. P. Wasilewski, M. J. McGill, J. E. Yorks, D. L. Hlavka, S. E. Platnick, and G. T. Arnold. 2016. Polarized view of supercooled liquid water clouds Remote Sensing of Environment 181 96-110 [10.1016/j.rse.2016.04.002]

Yorks, J. E., M. J. McGill, S. P. Palm, et al. D. L. Hlavka, P. A. Selmer, E. P. Nowottnick, M. A. Vaughan, S. D. Rodier, and W. D. Hart. 2016. An overview of the CATS level 1 processing algorithms and data products Geophysical Research Letters 43 (9): 4632-4639 [10.1002/2016gl068006]

van Diedenhoven, B., A. M. Fridlind, B. Cairns, A. S. Ackerman, and J. E. Yorks. 2016. Vertical variation of ice particle size in convective cloud tops Geophysical Research Letters 43 (9): 4586-4593 [10.1002/2016gl068548]

Meyer, K. G., S. E. Platnick, G. T. Arnold, et al. R. E. Holz, P. Veglio, J. E. Yorks, and C. Wang. 2016. Cirrus cloud optical and microphysical property retrievals from eMAS during SEAC<sup>4</sup>RS using bi-spectral reflectance measurements within the 1.88  µm water vapor absorption band Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 9 (4): 1743-1753 [10.5194/amt-9-1743-2016]

Alexandrov, M. D., B. Cairns, A. P. Wasilewski, et al. A. S. Ackerman, M. J. McGill, J. E. Yorks, J. E. Hlavka, S. E. Platnick, G. T. Arnold, B. van Diedenhoven, J. Chowdhary, M. Ottaviani, and K. D. Knobelspiesse. 2015. Liquid water cloud properties during the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX) Remote Sens. Environ. 169 20-36 [doi:10.1016/j.rse.2015.07.029]

Yorks, J. E., M. J. McGill, V. S. Scott, et al. A. W. Kupchock, S. W. Wake, D. L. Hlavka, W. D. Hart, and P. A. Selmer. 2014. The Airborne Cloud-Aerosol Transport System: Overview and Description of the Instrument and Retrieval Algorithms Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 31 2482-2497 [10.1175/JTECH-D-14-00044.1]

Hlavka, D. L., J. E. Yorks, M. J. McGill, et al. S. A. Young, M. A. Vaughan, R. E. Kuehn, and S. D. Rodier. 2012. Airborne validation of cirrus cloud properties derived from CALIPSO lidar measurements: Optical properties Journal of Geophysical Research 116 D19207 [10.1029/2011JD015942]

Yorks, J., M. McGill, D. Hlavka, and W. Hart. 2011. Statistics of Cloud Optical Properties from Airborne Lidar Measurements Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 28 (7): 869-883 [10.1175/2011JTECHA1507.1]

Yorks, J., D. Hlavka, A. Mark, et al. M. McGill, W. Hart, R. Sharon, and K. Ralph. 2011. Airborne validation of cirrus cloud properties derived from CALIPSO lidar measurements: Spatial properties J. Geophys. Res. 116 (D19): D19207 [10.1029/2011JD015942]

Thompson, A. M., A. M. MacFarlane, G. A. Morris, et al. J. E. Yorks, S. K. Miller, B. F. Taubman, G. Verver, H. Voemel, M. A. Avery, J. W. Hair, G. S. Diskin, E. V. Browell, J. M. Valverde-Canossa, T. L. Kucsera, C. A. Klich, and D. L. Hlavka. 2010. Convective and wave signatures in ozone profiles over the equatorial Americas: Views from TC4 2007 and SHADOZ J. Geophys. Res. 115 D00J23 [10.1029/2009JD012909]

Yorks, J. E., M. J. Mcgill, S. Rodier, et al. M. Vaughan, Y. Hu, and D. L. Hlavka. 2009. Radiative effects of African dust and smoke observed from Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) data J. Geophys. Res. 114 D00H04 [10.1029/2009JD012000]

Yorks, J., A. Thompson, E. Joseph, and S. Miller. 2009. The variability of free tropospheric ozone over Beltsville, Maryland (39N, 77W) in the summers 2004–2007 Atmos Environ 43 (11): 1827-1838 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.12.049]

Thompson, A., J. Yorks, S. Miller, et al. J. C. Witte, K. Dougherty, G. Morris, D. Baumgardner, L. Ladino, and B. Rappenglueck. 2008. Tropospheric ozone sources and wave activity over Mexico City and Houston during MILAGRO/Intercontinental Transport Experiment (INTEX-B) Ozonesonde Network Study, 2006 (IONS-06) Atmos. Chem. Phys. 8 (17): 5113-5125 [10.5194/acp-8-5113-2008]

Pfister, G., L. Emmons, P. Hess, et al. J. Lamarque, A. Thompson, and J. Yorks. 2008. Analysis of the Summer 2004 ozone budget over the United States using Intercontinental Transport Experiment Ozonesonde Network Study (IONS) observations and Model of Ozone and Related Tracers (MOZART-4) simulations J. Geophys. Res. 113 (D23): D23306 [10.1029/2008JD010190]