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Michelle Gierach

Photo of Michelle Gierach


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 233-300

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Water & Ecosystems



  • B.S., Meteorology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (2004)
  • M.S., Meteorology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (2006)
  • Ph.D., Marine Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina (2009)

Professional Experience

  • Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California (2011 – Present)
    • Co-Lead, NASA Surface Biology and Geology Pathfinder Study, (2020 – Present)
    • Project Manager for the NASA EVS-2 COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) mission, JPL, (2018 – 2019)
    • Project Scientist for the NASA EVS-2 COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) mission, JPL, (2015 – 2019)
    • Project Scientist for the NASA Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC), JPL, (2011 – 2021)
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, Florida (2009 – 2011)

Research Interests

Application of satellite and airborne observations, in-situ data, and model simulations to study synoptic to decadal changes in the ocean, with specific focus on biophysical interactions, aquatic ecosystems, and water quality. My current research ranges in scale from the open ocean, investigating the influence of submesoscale ocean dynamics on upper ocean biology, to coastal and inland waters, assessing variability in water quality and the current condition of coral reefs. 

Selected Awards

  • NASA Group Achievement Award, CORAL Mission Team (2020)
  • NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal (2018)
  • Florida State University Reubin O'D. Askew Young Alumni Award (2016)
  • Florida State University Notable Noles (2016)
  • Lew Allen Award for Excellence (2015)
  • NASA Early Career Achievement Medal (2013)
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Graduate Study (2009)

Selected Publications

See my Curriculum Vitae for a full list of publications, or

  1. Carroll, D., D. Menemenlis, S. Dutkiewicz, J. Lauderdale, J.F. Adkins, K.W. Bowman, H. Brix, I. Fenty, M.M. Gierach, et al., 2022: Attribution of space-time variability in global-ocean dissolved inorganic carbon, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, doi:10.1029/2021GB007162.
  2. Hochberg, E.J., and M.M. Gierach, 2021: Missing the reef for the corals: Unexpected trends between coral reef condition and the environment at the ecosystem scale, Frontiers in Marine Science, 8, doi:10.3389/fmars.2021.727038.
  3. Candela, A., K. Edelson, M.M. Gierach, D.R. Thompson, G. Woodward, and D. Wettergreen, 2021: Using remote sensing and in situ measurements for efficient mapping and optimal sampling of coral reefs, Frontiers in Marine Science, 8, doi:10.3389/fmars.2021.689489.
  4. Harringmeyer, J.P., K. Kaiser, D.R. Thompson, M.M. Gierach, C.L. Cash, and C.G. Fichot, 2021: Detection and sourcing of CDOM in urban coastal waters with UV-visible imaging spectroscopy, Frontiers in Environmental Science, doi:10.3389/fenvs.2021.647966.
  5. Cawse-Nicholson, K., et al., 2021: NASA’s Surface Biology and Geology Designated Observable: A Perspective on Surface Imaging Algorithms, Remote Sensing of Environment, 257, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2021.112349.
  6. Carroll, D., D. Menemenlis, M. M. Gierach, et al., 2020: The ECCO-Darwin data-assimilative global ocean biogeochemistry model: Estimates of seasonal to multi-decadal surface ocean pCO2 and Air-sea CO2 flux, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 12, e2019MS001888.
  7. Fichot, G.G., K. Matsumoto, B. Holt, M.M. Gierach, K.S. Tokos, 2019: Assessing change in the overturning behavior of the Laurentian Great Lakes using remotely sensed lake surface water temperatures, Remote Sensing of Environment, 235,
  8. Thompson, D., K. Cawse-Nicholson, Z. Erickson, C.G. Fichot, C. Frankenberg, B.-C. Gao, M.M. Gierach, R. Green, D. Jensen, V. Natraj, A. Thompson, 2019: A unified approach to estimate land and water reflectances with uncertainties for coastal imaging spectroscopy, Remote Sensing of Environment, 231, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2019.05.017.
  9. Erickson, Z., C. Frankenberg, D. Thompson, A. Thompson, M.M. Gierach, 2019: Remote sensing of chlorophyll fluorescence in the ocean using imaging spectrometry: Towards a vertical profile of fluorescence, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2018GL081273.
  10. Stephens, B., et al., 2018: The O2/N2 Ratio and CO2 Airborne Southern Ocean (ORCAS) Study, Bulletin of American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0206.1.
  11. Fournier, S., J. Vialard, M. Lengaigne, T. Lee, M.M. Gierach, and A.V.S. Chaitanya, 2017: Modulation of the Ganges-Brahmaputra river plume by the Indian Ocean Dipole and eddies inferred from satellite observations, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1002/2017JC013333.
  12. Fournier, S., D. Vandemark, L. Gaultier, T. Lee, B. Jonsson, and M.M. Gierach, 2017: Interannual variation in offshore advection of Amazon-Orinoco plume waters: observations, forcing mechanisms, and impacts, Journal of Geophysical Research, 122, 8966-8982, doi:10.1002/2017JC013103.
  13. Chatterjee, A., M. M. Gierach, D. Crisp, A. Eldering, M. Gunson, C. O'Dell, B. Stephens, A. Sutton, and D. Schimel, 2017: Influence of El Niño on atmospheric CO2 over the tropical Pacific Ocean: Findings from NASA's OCO-2 mission, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aam5776.
  14. Liu, J., K. Bowman, D. Schimel, N. Parazoo, Z. Jiang, M. Lee, A. Bloom, D. Wunch, K. Gurney, D. Menemenlis, M. M. Gierach, D. Crisp, and A. Eldering, 2017: Contrasting carbon cycle responses of tropical continents to the 2015-16 El Niño, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aam5690.
  15. Trinh, R. C., C. G. Fichot, M. M. Gierach, B. Holt, N. K. Malakar, G. Hulley, and J. Smith, 2017: Application of Landsat 8 for monitoring impacts of wastewater discharge on coastal water quality, Frontiers in Marine Science, doi:10.3389/fmars.2017.00329.
  16. Bowman, K., J. Liu, A. Bloom, N. Parazoo, M. Lee, Z. Jiang, D. Menemenlis, M. M. Gierach, G.J. Collatz, and K. Gurney, 2017: Global and Brazilian carbon response to El Niño Modoki 2011-2010, Earth and Space Science, 4, 637-660, doi:10.1002/2016EA000204.
  17. Thompson, D. M., E. Hochberg, G. P. Asner, R. O. Green, D. Knapp, B. C. Gao, R. Garcia, M. M. Gierach, Z. Lee, and S. Maritorena, 2017: Airborne Mapping of Benthic Reflectance Spectra with Bayesian Linear Mixtures, Remote Sensing Environment, 200, 18-30, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2017.07.030.
  18. Holt, B., R. C. Trinh, and M. M. Gierach, 2017: Stormwater Runoff Plumes in the Southern California Bight: A Comparison Study with SAR and MODIS Imagery, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 118, 141-154, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.02.040.
  19. Gierach, M. M., B. Holt, R. Trinh, B. Pan, and C. Rains, 2017: Satellite detection of wastewater diversion plumes in southern California. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 186, 171-182, doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2016.10.012.
  20. Basnayake, R., E. Bollt, N. Tufillaro, J. Sun, and M. M. Gierach, 2017: Regularization destriping of remote sensing imagery. Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, doi:10.5194/npg-2016-74.
  21. Fournier, S., J.T. Reager, T. Lee, J. Vazquez-Cuervo, C.H. David, and M.M. Gierach, 2016: SMAP observes flooding from land to sea: The Texas event of 2015, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2016GL070821.
  22. Fournier, S., T. Lee, and M. M. Gierach, 2016: Seasonal and interannual variations of sea surface salinity associated with the Mississippi River plume observed by SMOS and Aquarius, Remote Sens. Environ., 180, 431-439, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2016.02.050.
  23. Fichot, C. G., B. Downing, B. Bergamaschi, L. Windham-Myers, M. Marvin-DiPasquale, D. R. Thompson, and M. M. Gierach, 2015: High-resolution remote sensing of water quality in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, Environmental Science and Technology, 50(2), 573-583, doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b03518.
  24. Thompson, D. R., F. C. Seidel, B. C. Gao, M. M. Gierach, R. O. Green, R. M. Kudela, and P. Mouroulis, 2015: Optimizing irradiance estimates for coastal and inland water imaging spectroscopy. Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL063287.
  25. Fichot, C. G., B. Downing, B. Bergamaschi, L. Windham-Myers, M. Marvin-DiPasquale, D. R. Thompson, and M. M. Gierach, 2016: High-resolution remote sensing of water quality in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, Environmental Science and Technology, 50(2), 573-583, doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b03518.
  26. Gierach, M. M., M. Messié, T. Lee, K.B. Karnauskas, and M.-H. Radenac, 2013: Biophysical Responses near Equatorial Islands in the Western Equatorial Pacific Ocean during El Niño/La Niña Transitions. Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1002/2013GL057828.
  27. Gierach, M. M., J. Vazquez, T. Lee, V. Tsontos, 2013: Aquarius and SMOS detect effects on an extreme Mississippi River flooding event in the Gulf of Mexico, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, doi:10.1002/grl.50995.
  28. Lee, T., D.E. Waliser, J. F. Li; F. W. Landerer, and M. M. Gierach, 2013: Evaluation of CMIP3 and CMIP5 Wind Stress Climatology Using Satellite Measurements and Atmospheric Reanalysis Products. J. Clim., 26(16), 5810-5826, doi:
  29. Lee, T., G. Lagerloef, M. M. Gierach, H.-Y. Kao, S. Yueh, and K. Dohan, 2012: Aquarius reveals salinity signature of tropical instability waves. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L12610, doi:10.1029/2012GL052232.
  30. Gierach, M. M., T. Lee, D. Turk, and M.J. McPhaden, 2012: Biological response to the 1997-98 and 2009-10 El Niño events in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L10602, doi:10.10.29/2012GL051103.
  31. Gierach, M. M., H. C. Graber, and M. J. Caruso, 2012: SAR-derived gap jet characteristics in the lee of the Philippine Archipelago. J. Remote Sens. Environ., 117, 289-300.
  32. Gierach, M. M., B. Subrahmanyam, and P. G. Thoppil, 2009: Physical and biological responses to Hurricane Katrina (2005) in a 1/25° nested Gulf of Mexico HYCOM. J. Mar. Syst., 78, 168-179.
  33. Gierach, M. M., B. Subrahmanyam, A. Samuelsen, and K. Ueyoshi, 2009: Hurricane-driven alteration in plankton community size structure in the Gulf of Mexico: A modeling study. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07604, doi:10.1029/2009GL037414.
  34. Gierach, M. M., and B. Subrahmanyam, 2008: Biophysical responses of the upper ocean to major Gulf of Mexico hurricanes in 2005. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 113, C04029, doi:10.1029/2007JC004419.
  35. Gierach, M. M., and B. Subrahmanyam, 2007: Satellite data analysis of the upper ocean response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) in the Gulf of Mexico. IEEE Geosci. Remote Sens. Lett., 4, 132-136.
  36. Gierach, M. M., M. A. Bourassa, P. Cunningham, J. J. O'Brien, and P. D. Reasor, 2007: Vorticity-based detection of tropical cyclogenesis. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 46, 1214-1229.