Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Nima Pahlevan


Nima Pahlevan's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6684
Org Code: 619
Mail Code 619
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Nima Pahlevan is a remote sensing scientist with Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI) at the Terrestrial Information Systems Lab of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Formerly had been trained in geospatial engineering and remote sensing, Dr. Pahlevan earned a Ph.D. in Imaging Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Prior to joining GSFC in 2014, Dr. Pahlevan finished a two-year postdoctoral term working on in situ and satellite-based ocean color measurements at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His main area of research lies within the aquatic remote sensing domain with a focus on algorithm developments, atmospheric correction, calibration/validation, impacts of climate variability on water resources, harmful algal blooms (HABs), and relevant applied science practices. Dr. Pahlevan is a member of Landsat, PACE, and Terra/Aqua/SNPP Science Teams, participates in GEO AquaWatch activities, and contributes to the Surface Biology Geology (SBG) pre-formulation studies.

Research Interests

Aqautic remote sensing

Earth Science: Surface Properties

Atmospheric correction and retrieval of in-water optical properties in inland and nearshore coastal waters

Machine learning

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Neural networks, mixture density networks, isolation forest, anomaly detection 

Calibration/Validation of Earth-observing Optical Systems

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

 Inter-sensor comparison, vicarious calibration

Radiative Transfer Modeling

Earth Science: Theory & Modeling

 Atmosphere, water column 

Optical/thermal remote sensing

Earth Science: Theory & Modeling

 Multispectral and hyperspectral sensing


  • Ph.D., Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester, NY, Feb. 2012
  • M.S., Remote Sensing, Khaje-Nasir Toosi University (KNTU), Tehran, Iran, Jan. 2006
  • B.S., Geomatics Eng., Khaje-Nasir Toosi University (KNTU), Tehran, Iran, Sep. 2003


Research Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (through SSAI) - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

May 2014 - Present

Principal scientist on several projects aiming at improving and fostering satellite-derived water quality products

Adjunct Faculty

University of Maryland - College Park, MD

July 2016 - Present

Supervise students and postdoctoral scholars on research leading to improvements in satellite-derived aquatic science products

Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Massachusetts Boston - Boston, MA

March 2012 - May 2014

Conduct ocean color/optics research, sensitivity analyses, sensor cross-calibration, research cruises 

Research Assistant

Rochester Institute of Technology - Rochester, NY

June 2009 - February 2012

Analyze utility of new generation of Landsat missions for coastal/inland water studies, sensor cross-calibration, performance of coastal hydrodynamic models using Lanasat data

Research Assistant

Durham University - Durham, UK

July 2007 - August 2008

Develop algorithms for processing LiDAR data


Azad Univeristy - Tehran, Iran

March 2006 - August 2007

Teach remote sensing, photogrammetry, GIS, and ground surveying 

Remote Sensing Consultant

Department of Environment - Tehran, Iran

March 2006 - August 2007

Perform change detection analyses for coral reef habitats in Persian Gulf 

Current Projects

AERONET-OC: Validating satellite-derived reflectance products in inland waters

We have established three autonomous radiometers at three locations, including Lake Okeechobee (FL), Green Bay (WI), and Grizzly Bay (CA). This effort is part of the AERONET-OC network ( and funded by the Landsat-8 project science.

Satellite-based analysis Tool for Rapid Evaluation of Aquatic environMents (STREAM)

Hydrology / Water Cycle

Providing Landsat and Sentinel-2 water quality products to end-users in near-real-time via a user-friendly web interface 


Enabling Interdisciplinary Aquatic Science Studies from the EMIT Archive

ROSES 2023: Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) Science and Applications Team - NASA - Awarded: 2024-01-18

Dates:  - 

Enabling timely water-quality monitoring via commercial satellite observations 

ROSES 2022: Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) - NASA (NNH22ZDA001N-CSDSA) - Awarded: 2023-08-18

Dates:  - 

Algorithm developments for synergistic use of water quality products from multispectral and hyperspectral satellite observations

ROSES 2021: Remote Sensing of Water Quality - NASA (NNH21ZDA001N-RSWQ) - Awarded: 2021-12-13

Dates:  - 

Using MODIS, VIIRS, ASTER, and other Remote-Sensing Data Products to Assess the Status and Fate of Terminal Lakes in the Great Basin of the Western U.S. 

ROSES 2020: Science of Terra, Aqua, and SNPP - NASA (NNH20ZDA001N-TASNPP) - Awarded: 2021-08-02

Dates: 2021-10-31  - 2024-10-30

Using Hyperspectral Imagery to Assess the Effects of Warming on New England Kelp Forests 

ROSES 2020: Minority University Research and Education Program - NASA (NNH21ZHA001NRA-OCEAN) - Awarded: 2021-06-22

Dates: 2021-10-01  - 2024-09-30

A hyperspectral retrieval scheme for Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) Designated Observables (DOs) in optically complex waters

ROSES 2020: Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry - NASA (NNH20ZDA001N-OBB) - Awarded: 2020-11-02

Dates: 2021-03-31  - 2024-03-30

Maximizing utility of PACE in coastal and major freshwater ecosystems: Advancing science for societal benefits

ROSES 2019: PACE Science and Application Team - NASA (NNH19ZDA001N-PACEST) - Awarded: 2020-03-30

Dates:  - 

Professional Service

  • Served on several NASA Earth Science review panels
  • Served as panelists on multiple international space agency's remote sensing review programs 
  • Co-chaired/-organized several national/international workshops and conference sessions
  • Mentored several students, interns, and junior researchers
  • Trained international water resource managers on utilizing satellite products for water-quality monitoring
  • Co-led a CEOS-approved round-robin exercise on atmospheric correction of Landsat/Sentinel-2 imagery
  • Led a community-wide data-sharing initiative for enhancing global remote sensing of water quality
  • Served as Guest Editor for remote sensing journals
  • Served as a reviewer for several remote sensing journals 

Professional Societies


2011 - Present


2014 - Present


2013 - Present


  • NASA Robert H. Goddard's Award for Science (2019)
  • NASA's New Investigator Program (NIP) Award (2015)
  • BAE Systems Award for best student paper in the Annual ASPRS conference (2012)
  • Student of the Year Award from Central New York Region of the ASPRS (2011)
  • Don Rennie Memorial Award from the Great Lakes Research Consortium Annual Meeting (2011)
  • Alexander Goetz Instrument from ASD Inc. and IGARSS (2010)
  • Gwendolyn Wilkinson Fund, Durham University (2007)



2024. "Phytoplankton composition from sPACE: Requirements, opportunities, and challenges." Remote Sensing of Environment 302 (1): 113964 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113964] [Journal Article/Letter]

2024. "A Retrospective Analysis of Remote-sensing Reflectance Products in Coastal and Inland Waters." IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters 1-1 [10.1109/lgrs.2024.3351328] [Journal Article/Letter]

2024. "Need and vision for global medium-resolution Landsat and Sentinel-2 data products." Remote Sensing of Environment 300 113918 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113918] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Towards global long-term water transparency products from the Landsat archive." Remote Sensing of Environment 299 113889 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113889] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Spectral band-shifting of multispectral remote-sensing reflectance products: Insights for matchup and cross-mission consistency assessments." Remote Sensing of Environment 299 113846 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113846] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "The 50-year Landsat collection 2 archive." Science of Remote Sensing 8 100103 [10.1016/j.srs.2023.100103] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Leveraging Landsat-8/-9 underfly observations to evaluate consistency in reflectance products over aquatic environments." Remote Sensing of Environment 296 113755 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113755] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Estimating the concentration of total suspended solids in inland and coastal waters from Sentinel-2 MSI: A semi-analytical approach." ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 204 362-377 [10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2023.09.020] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Machine learning for cyanobacteria mapping on tropical urban reservoirs using PRISMA hyperspectral data." ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 204 378-396 [10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2023.09.019] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Leveraging multimission satellite data for spatiotemporally coherent cyanoHAB monitoring." Frontiers in Remote Sensing 4 [10.3389/frsen.2023.1157609] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "A hyperspectral inversion framework for estimating absorbing inherent optical properties and biogeochemical parameters in inland and coastal waters." Remote Sensing of Environment 295 113706 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113706] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Validity of the Landsat surface reflectance archive for aquatic science: Implications for cloud‐based analysis." Limnology and Oceanography Letters 8 (5): [10.1002/lol2.10344] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Assessing the Accuracy of PRISMA Standard Reflectance Products in Globally Distributed Aquatic Sites." Remote Sensing 15 (8): 2163 [10.3390/rs15082163] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "GLORIA - A globally representative hyperspectral in situ dataset for optical sensing of water quality." Scientific Data 10 (1): 100 [10.1038/s41597-023-01973-y] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Per-pixel uncertainty quantification and reporting for satellite-derived chlorophyll-a estimates via mixture density networks." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 61 1-18 [10.1109/tgrs.2023.3234465] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Comparative Analysis of Empirical and Machine Learning Models for Chla Extraction Using Sentinel-2 and Landsat OLI Data: Opportunities, Limitations, and Challenges." Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 49 (1): [10.1080/07038992.2023.2215333] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Sensitivity of remotely sensed pigment concentration via Mixture Density Networks (MDNs) to uncertainties from atmospheric correction." Journal of Great Lakes Research [10.1016/j.jglr.2022.12.010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Monitoring Uruguay’s freshwaters from space: An assessment of different satellite image processing schemes for chlorophyll-a estimation." Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment 100891 [10.1016/j.rsase.2022.100891] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Evaluating and optimizing VIIRS retrievals of chlorophyll-a and suspended particulate matter in turbid lakes using a machine learning approach." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 1-1 [10.1109/tgrs.2022.3220529] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Earth Observation in Support of SDG 6.3. 2/6.6.1: Reporting Surface Water Quality. In Earth Observation Applications and Global Policy Frameworks (eds A. Kavvada, D. Cripe and L. Friedl). ." Willey [Full Text] [10.1002/9781119536789.ch4] [Article in Book]

2022. "Fifty years of Landsat science and impacts." Remote Sensing of Environment 280 113195 [10.1016/j.rse.2022.113195] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Augmenting Heritage Ocean-Color Aerosol Models for Enhanced Remote Sensing of Inland and Nearshore Coastal Waters." Frontiers in Remote Sensing 3 [10.3389/frsen.2022.860816] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Simultaneous retrieval of selected optical water quality indicators from Landsat-8, Sentinel-2, and Sentinel-3." Remote Sensing of Environment 270 112860 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112860] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Advancing cyanobacteria biomass estimation from hyperspectral observations: Demonstrations with HICO and PRISMA imagery." Remote Sensing of Environment 266 112693 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112693] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Impact of Spectral Resolution on Quantifying Cyanobacteria in Lakes and Reservoirs: A Machine-Learning Assessment." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 1-20 [10.1109/tgrs.2021.3114635] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Integrating Inland and Coastal Water Quality Data for Actionable Knowledge." Remote Sensing 13 (15): 2899 [10.3390/rs13152899] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Cross-calibration of MODIS and VIIRS long near infrared bands for ocean color science and applications." Remote Sensing of Environment 260 112439 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112439] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Remotely estimating total suspended solids concentration in clear to extremely turbid waters using a novel semi-analytical method." Remote Sensing of Environment 258 112386 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112386] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "ACIX-Aqua: A global assessment of atmospheric correction methods for Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 over lakes, rivers, and coastal waters." Remote Sensing of Environment 258 112366 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112366] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "NASA's surface biology and geology designated observable: A perspective on surface imaging algorithms." Remote Sensing of Environment 257 112349 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112349] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "A Chlorophyll-a Algorithm for Landsat-8 Based on Mixture Density Networks." Frontiers in Remote Sensing 1 (5): [10.3389/frsen.2020.623678] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Hyperspectral retrievals of phytoplankton absorption and chlorophyll-a in inland and nearshore coastal waters." Remote Sensing of Environment 253 112200 [] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "A machine learning approach to estimate chlorophyll-a from Landsat-8 measurements in inland lakes." Remote Sensing of Environment 248 111974 [10.1016/j.rse.2020.111974] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Robust algorithm for estimating total suspended solids (TSS) in inland and nearshore coastal waters." Remote Sensing of Environment 246 111768 [10.1016/j.rse.2020.111768] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Monitoring Water-Related Ecosystems with Earth Observation Data in Support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 Reporting." Remote Sensing 12 (10): 1634 [10.3390/rs12101634] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Seamless retrievals of chlorophyll-a from Sentinel-2 (MSI) and Sentinel-3 (OLCI) in inland and coastal waters: A machine-learning approach." Remote Sensing of Environment 111604 [10.1016/j.rse.2019.111604] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Widespread global increase in intense lake phytoplankton blooms since the 1980s." Nature [10.1038/s41586-019-1648-7] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Current status of Landsat program, science, and applications." Remote Sensing of Environment 225 127-147 [10.1016/j.rse.2019.02.015] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Benefits of the free and open Landsat data policy." Remote Sensing of Environment 224 382-385 [10.1016/j.rse.2019.02.016] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Performance of Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 surface reflectance products for river remote sensing retrievals of chlorophyll-a and turbidity." Remote Sensing of Environment 224 104-118 [10.1016/j.rse.2019.01.023] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Analyzing Performances of Different Atmospheric Correction Techniques for Landsat 8: Application for Coastal Remote Sensing." Remote Sensing 11 (4): 469 [10.3390/rs11040469] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Mapping Substrate Types and Compositions in Shallow Streams." Remote Sensing 11 (3): 262 [10.3390/rs11030262] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Sentinel-2/Landsat-8 product consistency and implications for monitoring aquatic systems." Remote Sensing of Environment 220 19-29 [10.1016/j.rse.2018.10.027] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Using Landsat-8 Images for Quantifying Suspended Sediment Concentration in Red River (Northern Vietnam)." Remote Sensing 10 (11): 1841 [10.3390/rs10111841] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Observations and Recommendations for the Calibration of Landsat 8 OLI and Sentinel 2 MSI for Improved Data Interoperability." Remote Sensing 10 (9): 1340 [10.3390/rs10091340] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Toward Long-Term Aquatic Science Products from Heritage Landsat Missions." Remote Sensing 10 (9): 1337 [10.3390/rs10091337] [Journal Article/Letter]

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]

2018. "Atmospheric Correction Inter-Comparison Exercise." Remote Sensing 10 (3): 352 [10.3390/rs10020352] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Spectral band adjustments for remote sensing reflectance spectra in coastal/inland waters." Optics Express 25 (23): 28650 [10.1364/oe.25.028650] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Sentinel-2 MultiSpectral Instrument (MSI) data processing for aquatic science applications: Demonstrations and validations." Remote Sensing of Environment 201 47-56 [10.1016/j.rse.2017.08.033] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Revisiting short-wave-infrared (SWIR) bands for atmospheric correction in coastal waters." Opt. Express 25 (6): 6015--6035 [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Landsat 8 remote sensing reflectance (Rrs) products: Evaluations, intercomparisons, and enhancements." Remote Sensing of Environment 190 289-301 [10.1016/j.rse.2016.12.030] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Impact of Spatial Sampling on Continuity of MODIS–VIIRS Land Surface Reflectance Products: A Simulation Approach." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 55 (1): 183-196 [10.1109/tgrs.2016.2604214] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Uncertainties in coastal ocean color products: Impacts of spatial sampling." Remote Sensing of Environment 181 14-26 [10.1016/j.rse.2016.03.022] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Radiance transmittance measured at the ocean surface ." Optics Express 23 (9): 11826-11837 [10.1364/OE.23.011826] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "On-Orbit Radiometric Characterization of OLI (Landsat 8) for Applications in Aquatic Remote Sensing ." Remote Sensing of Environment 154 272–284 [10.1016/j.rse.2014.08.001] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Diurnal remote sensing of coastal/oceanic waters: a radiometric analysis for Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events." Applied Optics 53 (4): 648-665 [10.1364/AO.53.000648] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Robust approach to directly measuring water-leaving radiance in the field." Applied Optics 52 (8): 1693-1701 [10.1364/AO.52.001693] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Leveraging EO-1 to Evaluate Capability of New Generation of Landsat Sensors for Coastal/Inland Water Studies." IEEE J. Sel. Top. Appl. Earth Observations Remote Sensing 6 (2): 360-374 [10.1109/JSTARS.2012.2235174] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Integrating Landsat-7 Imagery with Physics-based Models for Quantitative Mapping of Coastal Waters near River Discharges." Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 78 (11): 1163-1174 [10.14358/PERS.78.11.1163] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Impact of multiple satellite ocean color samplings in a day on assessing phytoplankton dynamics." Ocean Sci. J. 47 (3): 323-329 [10.1007/s12601-012-0031-5] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Characterizing the Relative Calibration of Landsat-7’s Visible Bands with Terra-MODIS over Clear Waters: The Implications for Monitoring Water Resources." Remote Sensing of Environment 125 167-180 [10.1016/j.rse.2012.07.013] [Journal Article/Letter]


2014. "Transmittance of upwelling radiance at the sea surface measured in the field." Proc. SPIE, Ocean Remote Sensing and Monitoring from Space 9261 926105 [10.1117/12.2073431] [Proceedings]

2014. "Evaluating Radiometric Sensitivity of Landsat 8 over Coastal/Inland Waters." Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2014 IEEE International 1393 - 1396 [10.1109/IGARSS.2014.6946695] [Proceedings]

2013. "Scene-based cross-comparison of SNPP-VIIRS and Aqua-MODIS over oceanic waters." Proc. SPIE 8866, Earth Observing Systems XVIII 8866 88660J [10.1117/12.2023423] [Proceedings]

2013. "Analyzing Radiometric Requirements for Diurnal Observations of Coastal/Oceanic Waters from Geo-stationary Orbits." Proc. SPIE 8724, Ocean Sensing and Monitoring V 8724 (87240K): [10.1117/12.2016279] [Proceedings]

2013. "Investigating the Consistency between VIIRS and MODIS over the Oceans: The Sensor/Environmental Data Records (SDR/EDR)." [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Cross-calibration of Landsat-7's visible-near-infrared bands with Terra-MODIS over dark waters." Proc. SPIE 8372, Ocean Sensing and Monitoring IV 8732 873210 [10.1117/12.919161] [Proceedings]

2012. "The Impact of Land Processes on Fresh and Coastal Waters, prepared for LDCM." [Report]

2011. "Investigating the Potential of the Operational Land Imager (OLI) for Monitoring Case II Waters Using a Look-Up-Table Approach." Pecora 18-Forty Years of Earth Observation...Understanding a Changing World [Proceedings]

2011. "Using thermal remote sensing as a tool for calibrating a hydrodynamic model in inland waters." Proc. SPIE 8030, Ocean Sensing and Monitoring III 8030 80300I [10.1117/12.887212] [Proceedings]

2006. "A Quantitative Comparison to Water Column Correction Techniques in Marine Environments Using High Spatial Resolution Data." ISPRS Proceedings: From Pixels to Process [Proceedings]