Claire Parkinson

Claire Parkinson
Project Scientist
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Earth-observing Aqua satellite

Claire Parkinson began her science career as a graduate student at Ohio State University’s Institute of Polar Studies (now the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center). She had majored in math as an undergraduate at Wellesley College but shifted to science in part because of the phenomenal Antarctic Treaty, preserving an entire continent for peaceful purposes. She was thrilled to get to participate on an expedition to Antarctica in December 1973 – January 1974 as part of an Ohio State team led by Terence Hughes, measuring the flow of ice into a volcanic crater on Deception Island. She developed a numerical model of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice for her PhD dissertation and since July 1978 has been a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, with a research emphasis on polar sea ice and its connections to the rest of the climate system and to climate change. Although her sea ice research has focused mostly on satellite remote sensing, Claire has continued to be engaged with computer modeling and, on occasion, to do field work. Since May 1993, she has additionally been Project Scientist for the Earth-observing Aqua satellite, which launched in May 2002 and continues to transmit data on many aspects of the Earth system. She has written books on satellite observations of the Earth, climate change, and the history of science, and has co-written a book on climate modeling and several books on satellite data and what is being learned from those data about our ever-changing home planet.