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Dr. Claire L. Parkinson
Aqua Project Scientist

Mailing Address: 

Code 615
Goddard Space Flight Center
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Claire Parkinson has been Project Scientist for the Aqua mission since the spring of 1993. Formerly named EOS PM-1, Aqua was launched on May 4, 2002, and is collecting data on a wide variety of atmospheric, ocean, land, and ice variables. Claire has been a climatologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since July 1978, with a research emphasis on sea ice and its role in the global climate system. Her research has involved numerical modeling and field work in both the Arctic and the Antarctic but mostly has been centered on satellite data analysis. Claire is lead author of an atlas of Arctic sea ice from satellite data and coauthor of two other sea ice atlases. She and her colleagues have detailed the significant loss of sea ice in the Arctic since the late 1970s and the lesser increase of sea ice in the Antarctic over the same period.

Beyond her sea ice and Aqua work, Claire has written a book on the history of western science from 1202 to 1930 (Breakthroughs: A Chronology of Great Achievements in Science and Mathematics), an introductory text on satellite imagery (Earth from Above: Using Color-Coded Satellite Images to Examine the Global Environment), and a book on climate change and geoengineering (Coming Climate Crisis? Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix). She has also coauthored with Warren Washington a textbook on climate modeling and has coedited two books on satellite observations related to global change.

Claire participates in many outreach efforts, for instance often speaking to groups of students and/or teachers, being a science advisor to the EarthSky Radio Program, and, in 2011 in association with the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center, leading an effort that produced a book Women of Goddard: Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and a set of six associated posters. Claire has a B.A. in mathematics from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in climatology from Ohio State University. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of Phi Beta Kappa, the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In an effort to stay fit, she jogs and swims, and in 2001 she won a bronze medal in the 200-yard backstroke in the U.S. Nationals of the Senior Olympics and broke the Maryland age-group record in the same event.