Brian Johnson

Manager, NASA Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC)


B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 1982
M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 1986
Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Space Sciences, University of Michigan, 1993


Remote sensing, data analysis, and science data management


Systems Engineer and Algorithm Manager, NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)
JPSS supports NOAA’s requirements for global and continuous space-based observations from low-Earth orbit to provide for weather situational awareness and forecasting. A key element of this work has been to ensure consistent data quality while rapidly transitioning new or modified science algorithms into the operational data processing system during the post-launch data product validation phase.

Product Team Lead, NEON Airborne Instrumentation
NEON is based on a multi-scale observing strategy employing ground-based sensors, field sampling, airborne sensors and integration with national geospatial information to extrapolate relationships between the ecosystem drivers and their ecological consequences at 60 sites located throughout the Unites States. To support this, the airborne system composed of a LiDAR, imaging spectrometer and a high-resolution camera is being developed to achieve 1- to 2-meter spatial resolution allowing biochemical and biophysical measurements at the level of individual organisms or small groups of organisms.

Co-Investigator for NEON airborne imaging spectrometer
The scientific goals established for airborne remote sensing in the observatory require an imaging spectrometer with high signal-to-noise performance, spatial/spectral uniformity, and sensor stability. To verify that these requirements could be met and to reduce technical risk, the National Science Foundation funded development of an airborne spectrometer design verification unit built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Project Lead, NEON pathfinder airborne and field campaign
A team of scientists conducted a series of airborne flights and coordinated field observations in two study areas near Gainesville, Florida in 2010. The study included the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station and the nearby Donaldson Tract. A key objective of this project was to investigate field sampling protocols and scaling techniques for comparing site-based and remote sensing data, and integrating these data with ecological models.

Recent Highlights

  • Principal Investigator, NASA Snow and Ice Distributed Active Archive Center, 2014-present
  • Principal Scientist, Raytheon Corp. 2011 to 2014
  • Senior Scientist, National Ecological Observatory Network, 2008 - 2011
  • Advanced Systems Manager and System Engineer, Ball Aerospace, 2001 - 2008
  • Project Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, 1995 - 2001
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, 1993- 1995

Current Role

The DAAC is NASA's single largest Earth sciences data management program at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Center manages satellite derived snow and ice data products from NASA Earth Observing System sensors collecting measurements at visible, infrared and microwave wavelengths. These data are used by Earth scientists internationally to monitor the Earth's cryosphere. He is responsible for providing programmatic management of the NASA contract for the Snow and Ice DAAC with focus on supporting the cryospheric research community. Responsibilities as DAAC manager include:

  • Providing overall coordination and execution of the DAAC contract and budget
  • Providing high quality scientific data management for NASA-assigned satellite, airborne, and in-situ data products
  • Overseeing the appropriate and sound application of science, information technology, informatics, and data management practices within the DAAC
  • Serving as principal liaison to NASA contract stakeholders, including the NASA official for Earth Science Data Centers at Goddard Space Flight Center and the NASA Cryospheric Sciences manager

Recent Publications and Presentations

Krause, K.S., M.A. Kuester, B. R. Johnson, J.T. McCorkel, and T.U. Kampe. 2011. Early Algorithm Development efforts for the National Ecological Observatory Network Airborne Observation Platform Imaging Spectrometer and Waveform LiDAR, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt Instr. Eng., Vol. 8151.

McCorkel, J.T., M.A. Kuester, B. R. Johnson, and T.U. Kampe. 2011. NEON Ground Validation Capabilities for Airborne and Space-based Imagers, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt Instr. Eng., Vol. 8153.

Progress in the Development of Airborne Remote Sensing Instrumentation for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). 2011. Thomas U. Kampe, Joel T. McCorkel, Louise Hamlin, Robert O. Green, and Brian R. Johnson, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt Instr. Eng., Vol. 8156, 2011.

Kampe, T.U., G.P. Asner, R. O. Green, M. Eastwood, B. R. Johnson, M. Kuester. 2010. Advances in airborne remote sensing of ecosystem processes and properties: toward high-quality measurement on a global scale, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt Instr. Eng., Vol.7809, 2010.

Johnson, B. R., .U. Kampe, and M.A. Kuester. 2010. Development of airborne remote sensing instrumentations for NEON, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt Instr. Eng., Vol.7809.

Johnson, B. R., T.U. Kampe, M.A. Kuester, and M. Keller. 2009. NEON: The First Continental-Scale Ecological Observatory with Airborne Remote Sensing of Vegetation Canopy Biochemistry and Structure, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt Instr. Eng., Vol. 7454.