Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Paul M Montesano

(Senior Research Scientist)


Org Code: 606.3

Mail Code: 606.3
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Research Interests

Boreal forest structure and patterns

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Advance the application of multi-sensor remote sensing and geo-spatial data integration to document, quantify, assess uncertainty of and monitor changes in, boreal forest structure.


Senior Research Scientist

ADNET Systems, Inc. - NASA Center for Climate Simulation | Computational & Information Sciences & Technology Office

September 2021 - Present

Lead Research Scientist

SSAI - Biospheric Sciences Lab | NASA Goddard Space flight Center

August 2015 - September 2021

Research Scientist

SSAI / Sigma Space - Biospheric Sciences Lab | NASA Goddard Space flight Center

November 2006 - August 2015


Dept. of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland - College Park
PhD (May 2015)
Doctoral Thesis: The uncertainty of spaceborne measurements of vegetation structure in the taiga-tundra ecotone of northern Siberia.

Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin - Madison
M.S.(Research option) Environmental Monitoring, May 2006
Master’s Thesis: Estimating chl-a in lakes with MODIS: a regional assessment

Rutgers College, Rutgers University
B.A. with High Honors, May 2001 Major: Geography Minor: Biology
Senior Honors Thesis: Examining relationships between snow coverage and wildfires in the western U.S.

Selected Publications


Yin, T., P. M. Montesano, B. D. Cook, et al. E. Chavanon, C. S. Neigh, D. Shean, D. Peng, N. Lauret, A. Mkaouar, O. Regaieg, Z. Zhen, R. Qin, J.-P. Gastellu-Etchegorry, and D. C. Morton. 2023. Modeling forest canopy surface retrievals using very high-resolution spaceborne stereogrammetry: (II) optimizing acquisition configurations Remote Sensing of Environment 298 113824 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113824]

Yin, T., P. M. Montesano, B. D. Cook, et al. E. Chavanon, C. S. Neigh, D. Shean, D. Peng, N. Lauret, A. Mkaouar, D. C. Morton, O. Regaieg, Z. Zhen, and J.-P. Gastellu-Etchegorry. 2023. Modeling forest canopy surface retrievals using very high-resolution spaceborne stereogrammetry: (I) methods and comparisons with actual data Remote Sensing of Environment 298 113825 [10.1016/j.rse.2023.113825]

Spradlin, C., M. Wooten, J. A. Caraballo-Vega, et al. M. L. Carroll, C. S. Neigh, K. Wessels, M. T. Le, P. Montesano, W. Alemu, and N. Thomas. 2023. Large-Scale Distributed Compositing and Statistics Framework For Very-High-Resolution Remote Sensing Imagery IGARSS 2023 - 2023 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium [10.1109/igarss52108.2023.10283222]

Montesano, P., M. Carroll, C. Neigh, et al. M. Macander, J. Caraballo-Vega, G. Frost, and G. Tamkin. 2023. Producing a Science-Ready Commercial Data Archive: A Workflow for Estimating Surface Reflectance for High Resolution Multispectral Imagery IGARSS 2023 - 2023 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium [10.1109/igarss52108.2023.10281820]

Montesano, P. M., C. S. Neigh, M. J. Macander, et al. W. Wagner, L. I. Duncanson, P. Wang, J. O. Sexton, C. E. Miller, and A. H. Armstrong. 2023. Patterns of regional site index across a North American boreal forest gradient Environmental Research Letters [10.1088/1748-9326/acdcab]

Duncanson, L., J. R. Kellner, J. Armston, et al. R. Dubayah, D. M. Minor, S. Hancock, S. P. Healey, P. L. Patterson, S. Saarela, S. Marselis, C. E. Silva, J. Bruening, S. J. Goetz, H. Tang, M. Hofton, B. Blair, S. Luthcke, L. Fatoyinbo, K. Abernethy, A. Alonso, H.-E. Andersen, P. Aplin, T. R. Baker, N. Barbier, J. F. Bastin, P. Biber, P. Boeckx, J. Bogaert, L. Boschetti, P. B. Boucher, D. S. Boyd, D. F. Burslem, S. Calvo-Rodriguez, J. Chave, R. L. Chazdon, D. B. Clark, D. A. Clark, W. B. Cohen, D. A. Coomes, P. Corona, K. Cushman, M. E. Cutler, J. W. Dalling, M. Dalponte, J. Dash, S. de-Miguel, S. Deng, P. W. Ellis, B. Erasmus, P. A. Fekety, A. Fernandez-Landa, A. Ferraz, R. Fischer, A. G. Fisher, A. García-Abril, T. Gobakken, J. M. Hacker, M. Heurich, R. A. Hill, C. Hopkinson, H. Huang, S. P. Hubbell, A. T. Hudak, A. Huth, B. Imbach, K. J. Jeffery, M. Katoh, E. Kearsley, D. Kenfack, N. Kljun, N. Knapp, K. Král, M. Krůček, N. Labrière, S. L. Lewis, M. Longo, R. M. Lucas, R. Main, J. A. Manzanera, R. V. Martínez, R. Mathieu, H. Memiaghe, V. Meyer, A. M. Mendoza, A. Monerris, P. Montesano, F. Morsdorf, E. Næsset, L. Naidoo, R. Nilus, M. O’Brien, D. A. Orwig, K. Papathanassiou, G. Parker, C. Philipson, O. L. Phillips, J. Pisek, J. R. Poulsen, H. Pretzsch, C. Rüdiger, S. Saatchi, A. Sanchez-Azofeifa, N. Sanchez-Lopez, R. Scholes, C. A. Silva, M. Simard, A. Skidmore, K. Stereńczak, M. Tanase, C. Torresan, R. Valbuena, H. Verbeeck, T. Vrska, K. Wessels, J. C. White, L. J. White, E. Zahabu, and C. Zgraggen. 2022. Aboveground biomass density models for NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar mission Remote Sensing of Environment 270 112845 [10.1016/j.rse.2021.112845]

Neigh, C. S., W. C. Wagner, P. M. Montesano, and M. Wooten. 2021. Estimating Bare Earth in Sparse Boreal Forests With WorldView Stereo Imagery IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters 1-5 [10.1109/lgrs.2021.3112387]

Lagomasino, D., T. Fatoyinbo, E. Castañeda-Moya, et al. B. D. Cook, P. M. Montesano, C. S. Neigh, L. A. Corp, L. E. Ott, S. Chavez, and D. C. Morton. 2021. Storm surge and ponding explain mangrove dieback in southwest Florida following Hurricane Irma Nature Communications 12 (1): 4003 [10.1038/s41467-021-24253-y]

Neuenschwander, A., E. Guenther, J. C. White, L. Duncanson, and P. M. Montesano. 2020. Validation of ICESat-2 terrain and canopy heights in boreal forests Remote Sensing of Environment 251 112110 [10.1016/j.rse.2020.112110]

Montesano, P. M., C. Neigh, M. J. Macander, M. Feng, and P. Noojipady. 2020. The bioclimatic extent and pattern of the cold edge of the boreal forest: the circumpolar taiga-tundra ecotone Environmental Research Letters [10.1088/1748-9326/abb2c7]

Duncan, B. N., L. E. Ott, J. B. Abshire, et al. L. Brucker, M. L. Carroll, J. Carton, J. C. Comiso, E. P. Dinnat, B. C. Forbes, A. Gonsamo, W. W. Gregg, D. K. Hall, I. Ialongo, R. Jandt, R. A. Kahn, A. Karpechko, S. R. Kawa, S. Kato, T. Kumpula, E. Kyrölä, T. V. Loboda, K. C. McDonald, P. M. Montesano, R. Nassar, C. S. Neigh, C. L. Parkinson, B. Poulter, J. Pulliainen, K. Rautiainen, B. M. Rogers, C. S. Rousseaux, A. J. Soja, N. Steiner, J. Tamminen, P. C. Taylor, M. A. Tzortziou, H. Virta, J. S. Wang, J. D. Watts, D. M. Winker, and D. L. Wu. 2020. Space‐Based Observations for Understanding Changes in the Arctic‐Boreal Zone Reviews of Geophysics 58 (1): 2019RG000652 [10.1029/2019rg000652]

Shean, D. E., S. Bhushan, P. Montesano, et al. D. R. Rounce, A. Arendt, and B. Osmanoglu. 2020. A Systematic, Regional Assessment of High Mountain Asia Glacier Mass Balance Frontiers in Earth Science 7 [10.3389/feart.2019.00363]

Shean, D., S. Bhushan, P. Montesano, et al. D. Rounce, A. Arendt, and B. Osmanoglu. 2020. A Systematic, Regional Assessment of High Mountain Asia Glacier Mass Balance. Front Frontiers/Earth Science 7 363 []

Puliti, S., M. Hauglin, J. Breidenbach, et al. P. Montesano, C. Neigh, J. Rahlf, S. Solberg, T. Klingenberg, and R. Astrup. 2020. Modelling above-ground biomass stock over Norway using national forest inventory data with ArcticDEM and Sentinel-2 data Remote Sensing of Environment 236 111501 [10.1016/j.rse.2019.111501]

Neigh, C. S., C. J. Tucker, M. L. Carroll, et al. P. M. Montesano, D. A. Slayback, M. R. Wooten, A. I. Lyapustin, D. E. Shean, O. Alexandrov, and M. J. Macander. 2019. An API for Spaceborne Sub-Meter Resolution Products for Earth Science IGARSS 2019 - 2019 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium [10.1109/igarss.2019.8898358]

Montesano, P. M., C. S. Neigh, W. Wagner, M. Wooten, and B. D. Cook. 2019. Boreal canopy surfaces from spaceborne stereogrammetry Remote Sensing of Environment 225 148-159 [10.1016/j.rse.2019.02.012]

Montesano, P. M., C. Neigh, G. Sun, et al. L. Duncanson, J. Van Den Hoek, and K. J. Ranson. 2017. The use of sun elevation angle for stereogrammetric boreal forest height in open canopies Remote Sensing of Environment 196 76-88 [10.1016/j.rse.2017.04.024]

Montesano, P. M., G. Sun, R. O. Dubayah, and K. J. Ranson. 2016. Spaceborne potential for examining taiga–tundra ecotone form and vulnerability Biogeosciences 13 (13): 3847-3861 [10.5194/bg-13-3847-2016]

Montesano, P., C. Neigh, J. Sexton, et al. M. Feng, S. Channan, K. Ranson, and J. Townshend. 2016. Calibration and Validation of Landsat Tree Cover in the Taiga−Tundra Ecotone Remote Sensing 8 (7): 551 [10.3390/rs8070551]

Margolis, H. A., R. F. Nelson, P. M. Montesano, et al. A. Beaudoin, G. Sun, H.-E. Andersen, and M. A. Wulder. 2015. Combining satellite lidar, airborne lidar, and ground plots to estimate the amount and distribution of aboveground biomass in the boreal forest of North America 1 Can. J. For. Res. 45 (7): 838-855 [10.1139/cjfr-2015-0006]

Rosette, J., B. Cook, R. Nelson, et al. Chengquan Huang, J. Masek, C. Tucker, Guoqing Sun, Wenli Huang, P. Montesano, J. Rubio-Gil, and J. Ranson. 2015. Sensor Compatibility for Biomass Change Estimation Using Remote Sensing Data Sets: Part of NASA's Carbon Monitoring System Initiative IEEE Geosci. Remote Sensing Lett. 12 (7): 1511-1515 [10.1109/lgrs.2015.2411262]

Van Den Hoek, J., J. S. Read, L. A. Winslow, P. M. Montesano, and C. D. Markfort. 2015. Examining the utility of satellite-based wind sheltering estimates for lake hydrodynamic modeling Remote Sensing of Environment 156 551-560 [10.1016/j.rse.2014.10.024]

Montesano, P. M., J. A. Rosette, G. Sun, et al. R. F. Nelson, R. Dubayah, K. J. Ranson, and V. Kharuk. 2015. The uncertainty of biomass estimates from modeled ICESat-2 returns across a boreal forest gradient Remote Sensing of Environment 158 95-109 [10.1016/j.rse.2014.10.029]

Montesano, P. M., R. F. Nelson, R. Dubayah, et al. G. Sun, B. D. Cook, K. J. Ranson, E. Naesset, and V. Kharuk. 2014. The uncertainty of biomass estimates from LiDAR and SAR across a boreal forest structure gradient Remote Sensing of Environment 154 398-407 [10.1016/j.rse.2014.01.027]

Cook, B. D., L. A. Corp, R. F. Nelson, et al. E. M. Middleton, D. C. Morton, J. T. Mccorkel, J. Masek, and P. M. Montesano. 2013. NASA Goddard’s LiDAR, Hyperspectral and Thermal (G-LiHT) Airborne Imager Remote Sensing 5 (8): 4045-4066 [10.3390/rs5084045]

Neigh, C., R. Nelson, J. Ranson, et al. P. Montesano, G. Sun, V. Kharuk, E. Naesset, M. Wulder, and H. Andersen. 2013. Taking stock of circumboreal forest carbon with ground measurements, airborne and spaceborne LiDAR Remote Sensing of Environment 137 274-287 [10.1016/j.rse.2013.06.019]

Montesano, P. M., B. D. Cook, G. Sun, et al. M. Simard, R. F. Nelson, K. J. Ranson, Z. Shang, and S. B. Luthcke. 2013. Achieving accuracy requirements for forest biomass mapping: A spaceborne data fusion method for estimating forest biomass and LiDAR sampling error Remote Sensing of Environment 130 153-170

Tilton, J. C., Y. Tarabalka, P. M. Montesano, and E. Gofman. 2012. Best Merge Region-Growing Segmentation With Integrated Nonadjacent Region Object Aggregation IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 50 (11): 4454 - 4467 [10.1109/TGRS.2012.2190079]

Ranson, K. J., P. M. Montesano, and R. F. Nelson. 2011. Object-based mapping of the circumpolar taiga–tundra ecotone with MODIS tree cover Remote Sensing of Environment 115 (12): 3670-3680 [10.1016/j.rse.2011.09.006]

Sun, G., K. J. Ranson, Z. Guo, et al. Z. Zhang, P. M. Montesano, and D. Kimes. 2011. FOREST BIOMASS MAPPING FROM LIDAR AND RADAR SYNERGIES Remote Sensing of Environment 115 (11): 2906-2916

Foster, J. L., D. K. Hall, J. B. Eylander, et al. G. A. Riggs, S. V. Nghiem, M. Tedesco, E. J. Kim, P. M. Montesano, R. E. Kelly, K. A. Casey, and B. J. Choudhury. 2011. A blended global snow product using visible, passive microwave and scatterometer satellite data International Journal of Remote Sensing 32 (5): 1371-1395 [10.1080/01431160903548013]

Nelson, R. F., K. J. Ranson, G. Sun, et al. D. Kimes, V. Kharuk, and P. M. Montesano. 2009. ESTIMATING SIBERIAN TIMBER VOLUME USING MODIS AND ICESAT/GLAS Remote Sensing of Environment 113 (3): 691-701

Montesano, P. M., R. F. Nelson, G. Sun, et al. H. A. Margolis, A. G. Kerber, and K. J. Ranson. 2009. MODIS TREE COVER VALIDATION FOR THE CIRCUMPOLAR TAIGA-TUNDRA TRANSITION ZONE Remote Sensing of Environment 113 (10): 2130-2141

Lathrop, R., P. M. Montesano, and S. Haag. 2008. A multi-scale segmentation approach to mapping seagrass habitats using airborne digital camera imagery Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 72 (6): 665-675

Lathrop, R., P. M. Montesano, J. Tesauro, and B. Zarate. 2004. Statewide mapping and assessment of vernal pools: A New Jersey case study Journal of Environmental Management 76 230-238

Lathrop, R., L. Windham, and P. M. Montesano. 2003. Does Phragmites expansion alter the structure and function of marsh landscapes? Patterns and processes revisited Estuaries 26 (2): 423-435

Medler, M. J., P. M. Montesano, and D. Robinson. 2002. Examining the relationship between snowfall and wildfire patterns in the western United States Physical Geography 21 335-342


Montesano, P. M., M. Macander, and E. E. Hoy. 2022. ABoVE: LVIS L3 Gridded Vegetation Structure across North America, 2017 and 2019 ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA [10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1923]

Neigh, C. S., R. F. Nelson, K. J. Ranson, et al. H. Margolis, P. M. Montesano, G. Sun, V. Kharuk, E. Naesset, M. A. Wulder, and H. Andersen. 2015. LiDAR-based Biomass Estimates, Boreal Forest Biome, Eurasia, 2005-2006 Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA: Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center [10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1278]

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union

2010 - Present


Thomas Hilker Early Career Scientist Award. ForestSAT2018, College Park, Md, October 2018

Graduate Student Excellence in Research Award. Dept of Geographical Sciences, U. Md-College Park, 2014

NASA GSFC Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Award: Scientific Achievement, August 2012

Best Reference Map Award (Professional Category), ACSM-CaGIS Map Design Competition (shared), 2006

Best Software Integration (1st place) / Best Cartographic Design (2nd place), 2003 NJDEP Mapping Contest

Andrew Hill Clark Award recipient for excellence in geography, 2001

Phi Beta Kappa, 2001