Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Brief Bio

Dr. Pickering is an atmospheric scientist employed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and works in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory of the Earth Sciences Division, where he is involved in many atmospheric chemistry modeling and analysis activities.  Dr. Pickering conducts air quality applications using data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) onboard NASA’s Aura satellite, and directs regional air quality modeling simulations using CMAQ and WRF-Chem.  He served as Co-Chair of the Air Quality Working Group for the Aura Science Team and has directed projects sponsored by NASA’s Applied Sciences Air Quality Program.  Dr. Pickering is also Project Scientist for the NASA Earth Venture - 1 DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically-Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality) project under which  major field experiments have been conducted in the Baltimore-Washington area, the San Joaquin Valley, Houston, and the Front Range region of Colordo from 2011 to 2014.  He leads other projects aimed at evaluating convective transport in NASA’s global chemical transport model (GMI) and chemistry and climate model (GEOS-5 CCM).  Dr. Pickering is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department (AOSC) at the University of Maryland where he advises graduate student research and collaborates with other faculty members.

 From 1994 to 2005, Dr. Pickering was a research faculty member in AOSC at the University of Maryland, where he conducted model development and applications on scales ranging from individual convective clouds to regional and global domains.   Cloud-resolved model simulations conducted by Dr. Pickering examined convective transport of trace gases and production of NOx by lightning.  On larger scales, Dr. Pickering directed research to evaluate the magnitude of continental outflow of pollution from North America.  From 1988 to 1994, Dr. Pickering worked for research organizations on-site at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  From 1976 to 1984, he performed air quality modeling for GEOMET, Inc. in Rockville, MD.

 Dr. Pickering received his Ph. D. in Meteorology from the University of Maryland in 1987, a MS in Atmospheric Science from the State University of New York at Albany in 1975 and a BS in Meteorology from Rutgers University in 1973.

Research Interests

Chemical transport modeling

Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry

Modeling on scales ranging from individual convective clouds, to regional scales, and to global scales.

Convective transport of trace gases

Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry

Analysis of aircraft and satellite data to estimate transport of trace gases from the boundary layer to the upper troposphere.  Cloud-resolving model simulations of convective storms and their tracer transport.

Lightning NOx production

Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry

Estimating production of NOx by lightning through use of the combination of cloud-resolved modeling and aircraft observations in thunderstorm anvils.  Estimates of NOx production per flash based on NO2 observations by Aura/OMI.

Investigation of relationship between column amounts of trace gases and surface air quality

Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry

Project Scientist for NASA Earth Venture - 1 DISCOVER-AQ mission

Application of satellite observations for air quality

Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry

Evaluation of regional air quality models using Aura data.

Continental export of air pollution

Earth Science: Atmospheric Chemistry

Regional and global model estimates of fluxes of trace gases entering and leaving North America.

Current Projects

DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically-Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality)

Atmospheric Chemistry

DISCOVER-AQ Project Scientist.   Leading forecasting/flight planning team.   Leading regional modeling efforts for each of the four study regions.

Tropospheric Transport Processes for Trace Gases and Aerosols: Regional to Global Effects on Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate

Atmospheric Chemistry

Global and regional modeling of trace gases and aerosols over North America and East Asia.  Examination of role of anthropogenic and natural emissions on tropospheric ozone and its radiative forcing over and downwind of North America.  Simulation of aerosol effects on radiative forcing in East Asia.

Estimate of Lightning NOx from OMI

Atmospheric Chemistry

Development of a retrieval algorithm for lightning NOx using NO2 data from Aura/OMI.


Senior Physical Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

September 2005 - Present

Modeling, analysis, satellite application, atmospheric field studies.  Adjunct Professor - University of MD

Research Professor

Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland - College Park, MD

April 1994 - September 2005

Modeling and analysis, atmospheric field studies, teaching, advising graduate students

Associate Research Scientist

Universities Space Research Association - Greenbelt, MD

April 1991 - April 1994

Modeling and anaysis, atmospheric field studies

Associate Scientist

Applied Research Corporation - Greenbelt, MD

April 1988 - April 1991

Modeling and analysis.

Graduate Research Assistant

Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland - College Park, MD

August 1984 - April 1988

Modeling and analysis, atmospheric field studies

Research Scientist

GEOMET, Inc. - Rockville, MD

February 1976 - August 1984

Air quality modeling, wind energy analysis


NOAA - Marlow Heights, MD

June 1975 - February 1976

Improve satellite temperature and moisture profile retrievals

Graduate Research Assistant

State University of New York at Albany - Albany, NY

August 1973 - June 1975

Atmospheric field studies

Teaching Experience

Graduate-level Synoptic Meteorology I – Fall 1999, Fall 2000, Spring 2002, Spring 2003, Spring 2004



Ph.D.                           Meteorology, 1987

                           University of Maryland, College Park

M.S.                            Atmospheric Science, 1975

                                    State University of New York at Albany

B.S.                             Meteorology, 1973 (with highest honors)

                                    Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey     

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union

1984 - Present

American Meteorological Society

Member American Meteorological Society, Committee on Atmospheric Chemistry, 1999-2001

1973 - Present

Air and Waste Management Association

President, AWMA Baltimore-Washington Chapter, 1981-1982

1977 - Present

Professional Service

Reviewer for:    Journal of Geophysical Research
Geophysical Research Letters
Journal of Applied Meteorology
Atmospheric Environment
Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Meteorologische Zeitschrift
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

Research proposal reviewer for:    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
                    UK Natural Environment Research Council

Member American Meteorological Society, Committee on Atmospheric Chemistry, 1999-2001

Member of UCAR University Relations Committee, 1999-2005

Contributor:  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 1 - Scientific Assessement of Climate Change, Third Assessment Report, 2000.

Contributor:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criteria Document for Ozone, Spring 2003

Served as State Climatologist for Maryland, November 1998-September 2005.  Provided climate data to researchers, students, the media, and the general public.

Served as a member of NCAR-led Steering Committee for planning the “Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3)” field project.

Served as Co-Chair of the Air Quality Working Group for the Aura Science Team (2006 to 2011).

Serving as a member of the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Service Center User Working Group (2009 to present).

Funded as a member of the Scientific Working Group for planning NASA’s GEO-CAPE satellite (2009 – present).


1992 - NASA/GSFC Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch Contractor Award

                        for Scientific Achievement

1993 - Universities Space Research Association Scientific Excellence Award

2003 – University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology Distinguished Alumnus Award


DISCOVER-AQ, Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Verticaly-Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality”, Earth-Venture-1 mission - NASA, Earth Venture - 1 - Awarded: 2010-06-01

Dates: 2010-06-01  - 2015-09-30

Convective Transport and Wet Removal in the GEOS-5 CCM and GMI CTM - NASA, Modeling, Analysis and Prediction Program - Awarded: 2008-11-01

Dates: 2009-01-01  - 2012-09-30

Monitoring Air Quality Effects of Anthropogenic Emission Reductions and Estimating Emissions from Natural Sources - NASA, Applied Sciences Air Quality Program - Awarded: 2008-01-01

Dates: 2008-04-01  - 2010-09-30

Observations of Lightning NOx from OMI - NASA, Aura Science Team - Awarded: 2011-03-01

Dates: 2011-04-01  - 2013-09-30

Observations of Lightning NOx from OMI: Global, National, and Case Study Analyses - NASA, Aura Science Team - Awarded: 2014-02-01

Dates: 2014-04-01  - 2016-09-30

Special Experience

Adjunct Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park.
Serves as Research Advisor for graduate students:   Currently 4 students (2 PhD candidates)
Graduates:    3 PhD    7 MS
Co-Advised graduates:    6 PhD 

Selected Publications


2014. "Satellite data of atmospheric pollution for U.S. air quality applications: Examples of applications, summary of data end-user resources, answers to FAQs, and common mistakes to avoid." Atmospheric Environment 94 647-662 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.05.061] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Higher surface ozone concentrations over the Chesapeake Bay than over the adjacent land: Observations and models from the DISCOVER-AQ and CBODAQ campaigns." Atmospheric Environment 84 9-19 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.11.008] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "An elevated reservoir of air pollutants over the Mid-Atlantic States during the 2011 DISCOVER-AQ campaign: Airborne measurements and numerical simulations." Atmospheric Environment 85 18-30 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.11.039] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "A new stratospheric and tropospheric NO2 retrieval algorithm for nadir-viewing satellite instruments: applications to OMI." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 6 (10): 2607-2626 [10.5194/amt-6-2607-2013] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "The observed response of Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) NO2 columns to NOx emission controls on power plants in the United States: 2005–2011." Atmospheric Environment 81 102-111 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.08.068] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Aerosol indirect effect on tropospheric ozone via lightning." J. Geophys. Res. 117 (D18): D18213 [10.1029/2012JD017723] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "The United States' Next Generation of Atmospheric Composition and Coastal Ecosystem Measurements: NASA's Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events (GEO-CAPE) Mission." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 93 (10): 1547-1566 [Full Text] [10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00201.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Impact of lightning-NO on eastern United States photochemistry during the summer of 2006 as determined using the CMAQ model." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 12 (4): 1737-1758 [10.5194/acp-12-1737-2012] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Observational evidence of aerosol enhancement of lightning activity and convective invigoration." Geophys Res Lett 38 (4): L04701 [10.1029/2010GL046052] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Multi-spectral sensitivity studies for the retrieval of tropospheric and lowermost tropospheric ozone from simulated clear-sky GEO-CAPE measurements." Atmos Environ 45 (39): 7151-7165 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.09.014] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Observations of ozone production in a dissipating tropical convective cell during TC4." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 10 11189-11208. [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Application of OMI observations to a space-based indicator of NOx and VOC controls on surface ozone formation." Atmos Environ 44 (18): 2213-2223 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.03.010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Lightning NOx emissions over the USA constrained by TES ozone observations and the GEOS-Chem model." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 10 (1): 107-119 [10.5194/acp-10-107-2010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Observations of ozone production in a dissipating tropical convective cell during TC4." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 10 (22): 11189-11208 [10.5194/acp-10-11189-2010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Impact of lightning NO emissions on North American photochemistry as determined using the Global Modeling Initiative (GMI) model." J Geophys Res 115 (D22): D22301 [10.1029/2010JD014062] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Production of lightning NOx and its vertical distribution calculated from three-dimensional cloud-scale chemical transport model simulations." J. Geophys. Res. 115 (D4): D04301 [10.1029/2009JD011880] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Lightning-generated NOx seen by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument during NASA's Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling Experiment (TC⁴ )." J Geophys Res 115 (D10): D00J10 [10.1029/2009JD013118] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Vertical distributions of lightning sources and flashes over Kennedy Space Center Florida." J Geophys Res 115 (D14203): [] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "The impact of the 2005 Gulf hurricanes on pollution emissions as inferred from Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) nitrogen dioxide." Atmos Environ 44 (11): 1443-1448 [10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.01.037] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Analysis of Convective Transport and Parameter Sensitivity in a Single Column Version of the Goddard Earth Observation System, Version 5, General Circulation Model." J. Atmos. Sci. 66 (3): 627-646 [10.1175/2008JAS2694.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Identifying convective transport of carbon monoxide by comparing remotely sensed observations from TES with cloud modeling simulations." Atmos. Chem. Phys. 9 (13): 4279-4294 [10.5194/acp-9-4279-2009] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Satellite observations of changes in air quality during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics." Geophys Res Lett 36 (17): L17803 [10.1029/2009GL039236] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Lightning and NOx production in global models, Springer." Chapter in Lightning: Principles, Instruments and Applications 551-571 [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "An Evaluation of the Impact of Lightning NO Emissions in the GMI Model on Upper Tropospheric Chemistry in the Tropics using SHADOZ data." AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts (A21D-0737): D737 [Other]

2007. "Cloud-scale model intercomparison of chemical constituent transport in deep convection." Atmos Chem Phys 7 4709-4731 [10.5194/acp-7-4709-2007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Lightning-generated NO X and its impact on tropospheric ozone production: A three-dimensional modeling study of a Stratosphere-Troposphere Experiment: Radiation, Aerosols and Ozone (STERAO-A) thunderstorm." J. Geophys. Res. 110 (D14): D14303 [10.1029/2004JD005556] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Simulation of the fine structure of the 12 July 1996 Stratosphere-Troposphere Experiment: Radiation Aerosols and Ozone (STERAO-A) storm accounting for effects of terrain and interaction with mesoscale flow." J Geophys Res 110 (D14304): [0.1029/2004JD005582] [Journal Article/Letter]

2002. "Evaluation of lightning flash rate parameterizations for use in a global chemical transport model." J. Geophys. Res. 107 (D23): 4711 [10.1029/2002JD002066] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Regional air pollution and its radiative forcing: Studies with a single-column chemical and radiation transport model." J. Geophys. Res. 106 28 [Full Text] [751-28] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Trace gas transport and scavenging in PEM-Tropics B South Pacific Convergence Zone convection." J. Geophys. Res. 106 32 [Full Text] [591-32] [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "A three-dimensional total odd nitrogen (NOy) simulation during SONEX using a stretched-grid chemical transport model." J. Geophys. Res. 105 (D3): 3851-3876 [10.1029/1999JD901029] [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "A cloud-scale model study of lightning-generated NOx in an individual thunderstorm during STERAO-A." J. Geophys. Res. 105 (D9): 11,601-11,616 [Full Text] [10.1029/2000JD900033] [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "The Vertical Distribution of Lightning of Nox for use in Regional and Global Chemical Transport Models." J Geophys Res Vol 103 (D23): 31203-31216 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Convective transport of biomass burning emissions over Brazil during TRACE A." J. Geophys. Res. 101 (D19): 23993–24012 [10.1029/96JD00346] [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Stratosphere-troposphere exchange in a midlatitude mesoscale convective complex: Part 2, Numerical simulations." J. Geophys. Res. 101 6837-6851 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "TRACE-A trajectory intercomparison: 1. Effects of different input analyses." J. Geophys. Res. 101 23 [Full Text] [909-23] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "Vertical transport by convective clouds: Comparisons of three modeling approaches." Geophys. Res. Lett. 22: 1089-1092 [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "Convective transport over the Central United States and its role in the regional CO and ozone budgets." J. Geophys. Res. 99 (D9): 18703–18711 [10.1029/94JD01244] [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "An intercomparison of isentropic trajectories over the South Atlantic." Mon. Weather Rev. 122 (5): 864-879 [10.1175/1520-0493(1994)122<0864:AIOITO>2.0.CO;2] [Journal Article/Letter]

1993. "Upper tropospheric ozone production following mesoscale convec¬tion during STEP/EMEX." J. Geophys. Res. 98:8737-8749 1993. [Journal Article/Letter]

1992. "A regional estimate of convective transport of CO from biomass burning." Geophys. Res. Lett. 19 (3): 289-292 [10.1029/92GL00036] [Journal Article/Letter]

1992. "Free tropospheric ozone production following entrainment of urban plumes into deep convection." J. Geophys. Res. 97 17 [Full Text] [985-18] [Journal Article/Letter]

1992. "Ozone production potential following convective redistribu¬tion of biomass burning emissions by a tropical squall line." J. Atmos. Chem. 14 297-313 [Journal Article/Letter]

1991. "Photochemical ozone production in tropical squall line convection during NASA/GTE/ABLE 2A." J. Geophys. Res. 96 3099-3114 [Journal Article/Letter]

1990. "Cloud draft structure and trace gas transport." J. Geophys. Res. 95 (D10): 17015-17030 [10.1029/JD095iD10p17015] [Journal Article/Letter]

1990. "Model calculations of tropospheric ozone production poten¬tial following observed convective events." J. Geophys. Res. 95:14 049-14 [062] [Journal Article/Letter]

1989. "Clear-sky vertical profiles of trace gases as affected by upstream convective activity." J. Geophys. Res. 94 (D12): 14879–14892 [10.1029/JD094iD12p14879] [Journal Article/Letter]

1988. "Trace gas transport in the vicinity of frontal convective cloudsa." J. Geophys. Res. 93:759-773 [Journal Article/Letter]

1988. "Trace gas transport in the vicinity of frontal convective clouds." J. Geophys. Res. 93 (D1): 759-773 [10.1029/JD093iD01p00759] [Journal Article/Letter]

1987. "Thunderstorms: An Important Mechanism in the Transport of Air Pollutants." Science 235 (4787): 460-465 [Journal Article/Letter]

Talks, Presentations and Posters


Numerous invited presentations at AGU and AMS meetings


Invited talks in Lightning, Convection, and Air Quality sessions at many AGU and AMS meetings over the period from 2000 to 2014

Lightning and Climate

February 2012

Presented at King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia

Lightning NOx in Atmosperic Models

April 2009

Presented at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lighrning NOx

December 2007

Presented at State University of New York at Albany

Lightning NOx in Global Models

July 2006

Presented at NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ


Selected Public Outreach

Air quality talks at GSFC visitor center

2010 - Present