Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Kevin R Turpie


Kevin R Turpie's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.9996
Org Code: 616
Mail Code 616.2
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Kevin Turpie is a associate research professor at UMBC in the Joint Center for Earth systems Technology (JCET). He has also worked at Goddard Space Flight Center on ocean color problems since 1993, leading focused groups of scientists, analysts, and computer specialists on projects related to the CZCS, MODIS, SeaWiFS, and VIIRS instruments, including the development a MODIS science computer facility, global ocean production models, and web-based data analysis and visualization tools to assess data quality and trends. In 2004, Dr. Turpie was appointed as Ocean Color Deputy PI on the S-NPP NASA Science Team, leading a team to evaluate VIIRS sensor characteristics, calibration, and ocean color data product algorithms. In 2010, he became the Ocean Color Science PI, leading the evaluation of VIIR flight data and was elected by the science team to be the Ocean Discipline Lead, coordinating PI efforts, presentations and reports, and liaising between the team and program and project management. In this role, Dr. Turpie represented the interests of NASA and the Ocean Color research community in interactions with NASA and NOAA engineering teams, the NOAA ocean color calibration and validation team, the NRC Committee on Assessing Requirements for Sustained Ocean Color Research and Operations, and commercial organizations handling operational sensor calibration and data product processing. Dr. Turpie also holds leadership roles in a number of cross-discipline organizations related to hyperspectral remote sensing and model of coastal and inland waters and wetlands. Dr. Turpie is the Principal Investigator for the airborne LUnar Irradiance (air-LUSI) mission, which has the objective of improving the use of the Moon for calibration of Earth observing satellites. Dr. Turpie is working on the preformulation of the Surface Biology and Geology as a member of the Research and Applications Team and a co-Lead of the Calibration and Validation Working Group (CVWG). He is also applying his combined experience of terrestrial and aquatic problems to help define the future SBG mission concept. He has expanded this role by becoming the founding chair of the Aquatic Studies Group (ASG), which is a growing organization of over 120 domestic and international scientists and researchers focused on development of algorithms and data products for coastal and inland water applications.

Research Interests

Calibration and Validation

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Dr. Turpie works with the calibration and validation of ocean color and related instrumentation. He has explored quantification of calibration errors and instrument artifacts and considered how these random and systematic effects influence the quality of remote sensing observations and their interpretation. Dr. Turpie's research has lead to improvements in the characterization of the Moon as an absolute calibration reference through the development of new measurement systems onboard high-altitude aircraft.

Remote Sensing of Aquatic Environments from Space

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Dr. Turpie's current research can be divided into two major areas: ocean color and coastal remote sensing. For the former, he interesting in studying passive sensor calibration and behavior, and how these influence remote sensing applications in marine and aquatic remotes sensors in the 0.35-2.5 micron range. He is also interested in development of remote sensing models that model the transmission and reflection of light at the air-water interface and how this changes with depth or the presents of emergent vegetation.

Wetland Remote Sensing

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Dr. Turpie is exploring ways to retrieve information about the conditions in shallow water environment, including coastal marsh ecosystems, through remote sensing. In particular, he is interested in developing methods to assess and record changes in the canopy architectural of coastal marshlands that are caused by climate change and human activities. His research looks to accomplish this through applications of satellite data, ground data, and radiative transfer modeling. It is his hope that the result will contribute a methodology to understand, monitor and manage these precious ecological resources.

Current Projects

airborne LUnar Spectral Irradiance (air-LUSI)

Remote Sensing

air-LUSI mission is a UMBC-led collaborative partnership of NASA, NIST, USGS and University of Guelph to characterize the spectral irradiance of the Moon to an unprecedented level of accuracy. The air-LUSI instrument system measures lunar spectral irradiance at 21 km altitude on NASA's ER-2 aircraft from about 380 to 1100 nm. The potential accuracy is currently placed at subpercent levels (k=1). Such accurate measurements can improve predictions of lunar irradiance by one or two orders of magnitude, possibly transforming current lunar calibration of Earth observing satellites past, present and future.

Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) - Preformulation

Remote Sensing

SBG is a Designated Observable as described by the NRC 2017 Decadal Survey. The mission objective is to observe minerals and geological phenomena, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and agriculture. Dr. Turpie is on the steering committee for the Research and Applications Team, is co-Lead of the SBG Calibration and Validation Working Group (CVWG), and also provides his expertise regarding remote sensing of coastal and inland aquatic ecosytems.

SBG Pathfinder Project (SISTER)

Remote Sensing

SISTER is a five year project with the capacity building objectives of maturing spectroscopy algorithms and develop calibration and validation resources for the SBG mission.

Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)

Remote Sensing

Dr. Turpie is providing expertise toward instrument calibration and characterization through assessing the impact of instrument performance on ocean color science data quality.

National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)

Remote Sensing

Dr. Turpie is involved in applying prelaunch characterization data and investrating on-orbit calibration of the VIIRS instrument and its affect on the science quality of ocean color data products.

Teaching Experience

Dr. Turpie is affiliated with the Dept. of Geography and Environmental Systems (GES) at UMBC, where he teaches courses in Earth science and remote sensing of the environment at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These include:

  • GES 110 - Introduction to Physical Geography
  • GES 381 - Remote Sensing
  • GES 481 - Digital Image Processing for Environmental Applications (undergraduate level)
  • GES 681 - Digital Image Processing for Environmental Applications (graduate level)
  • GES 691 - Directed Studies in GES

Dr. Turpie also mentor graduate students in studies of remotes sensing of Earth systems, particularly coastal or shallow water. His teaching interests include imaging spectroscopy and multi-angular techniques using satellite and airborne imagery in conjunction with in situ data and models, particularly focused on marine and aquatic environments; wetland field work design and data collection techniques for support of remote sensing; and remote sensing sensor calibration and validation for aquatic research.


Ph D, Geographical Sciences
University of Maryland 2012

MS, Applied Mathematics
The Johns Hopkins University 1991

BS, Computer Science
University of Maryland 1986

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union

2000 - Present

The Oceanography Society

2014 - Present

Coastal Education and Research Foundation

2009 - Present


2011 - Present

Society of Wetland Scientists

2016 - Present


1993 NASA Letter of Appreciation
1994 NASA Certificate for Outstanding Contribution
1998 GSC 10 Year Service Award
2002 SAIC 10 Year Service Award
2003 NASA Innovator Cash Award
2005 NASA Award of Excellence
2005 NASA Annual Peer Award
2007 SAIC 15 Year Service Award
2008 International Golden Key Honour Society
2011 NASA Robert H. Goddard Award
2012 SAIC 20 Year Service Award
2012 NASA Group Achievement Award – Suomi NPP

Selected Publications


2018. "Satellite sensor requirements for monitoring essential biodiversity variables of coastal ecosystems." Ecological Applications 28 (3): 749-760 [10.1002/eap.1682] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Comparison of two methodologies for calibrating satellite instruments in the visible and near-infrared." Applied Optics 54 (35): 10376 [10.1364/ao.54.010376] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "On-orbit calibration of the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite for ocean color applications ." Applied Optics 54 (8): 1984-2006 [10.1364/AO.54.001984] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Calibration uncertainty in ocean color satellite sensors and trends in long-term environmental records." Ocean Sensing and Monitoring VI 9111 [10.1117/12.2053427] [Proceedings]

2013. "Explaining the Spectral Red-Edge Features of Inundated Marsh Vegetation." Journal of Coastal Research 29 (5): 1111 – 1117 [10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-12-00209.1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "A comparison of global estimates of marine primary production from ocean color." Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 53 (5-7): 741-770 [10.1016/j.dsr2.2006.01.028] [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "Ocean province classification using ocean colour data: observing biological signatures of variations in physical dynamics." Global Change Biology 6 (1): 39-55 [10.1046/j.1365-2486.2000.00285.x] [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "Ocean annual phytoplankton carbon and new production, and annual export production estimated with empirical equations and CZCS data." Global Change Biology 6 (1): 57-72 [10.1046/j.1365-2486.2000.00286.x] [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "Morphology of the interstellar cooling lines detected by COBE." ApJL 434 587-598 [10.1086/174761] [Journal Article/Letter]


2019. "The NASA OBPG 2020 on-orbit calibration of SNPP VIIRS for ocean color applications." Earth Observing Systems XXIV [10.1117/12.2528769] [Proceedings]

2015. "Updates to the on-orbit calibration of SNPP VIIRS for ocean color applications." Earth Observing Systems XX 9607 [10.1117/12.2185940] [Proceedings]

2015. "VIIRS/J1 polarization narrative." Earth Observing Systems XX [10.1117/12.2190138] [Proceedings]

2013. "A synthesis of VIIRS solar and lunar calibrations." Proc. SPIE 8866, Earth Observing Systems XVIII 8866 88661L [10.1117/12.2024069] [Proceedings]

2012. "Suomi NPP VIIRS ocean color data product early mission assessment." Proc. SPIE 8510, Earth Observing Systems XVII 8510 85101H [10.1117/12.931113] [Proceedings]

2012. "VIIRS on-orbit calibration for ocean color data processing." Proc. SPIE 8510, Earth Observing Systems XVII 8510 85101G [10.1117/12.930483] [Proceedings]

2011. "Assessment of NPP VIIRS Ocean Color Data Products: Hope and Risk." Proc. of SPIE 8153 9 pp. [10.1117/12.893945] [Proceedings]

2011. "The VIIRS ocean data simulator enhancements and results." Proc. SPIE 8153, Earth Observing Systems XVI 8153 81531P [10.1117/12.892936] [Proceedings]

2011. "Requirements for an Advanced Ocean Radiometer ." NASA Tech Memo 37 [Other]

2005. "The MODIS Aqua Point-Spread Function for Ocean Color Bands." 9th International Symposium on Physical Measurements and Signatures in Remote Sensing 36 334-336 [Proceedings]