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Robert Nelson

Photo of Robert Nelson


4800 Oak Grove Drive

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Tropospheric Composition


Dr. Robert R. Nelson received his Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Colorado State University. His work has focused on the scattering effects of clouds and aerosols on near-infrared measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2). Dr. Nelson came to JPL in 2019 as a postdoctoral researcher to work on algorithm development for OCO-2 and OCO-3 with the primary goal of enhancing the accuracy and precision of column CO2 measurements. He has also recently joined the MISR algorithm team to help work on their aerosol retrievals. His research interests include improving atmospheric gas and aerosol retrieval algorithms, detecting and quantifying small-scale greenhouse gas sources, and developing novel products from space-based measurements.


  • B.S. in meteorology from Iowa State University in 2012
  • M.S. in atmospheric science from Colorado State University in 2015
  • Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Colorado State University in 2019

Professional Experience

  • Scientist, Tropospheric Composition Group - Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2021-present)
  • Postdoctoral Researcher - Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2019-2021)
  • Graduate Research Assistant - Colorado State University (2012-2019)

Research Interests

Satellite and in situ measurements of greenhouse gases, near-infrared greenhouse gas retrieval algorithms, small-scale GHG sources and sinks, carbon cycle science, climate change.

Selected Awards

  • JPL Team Award (Earth Science Senior Review Team) (2023)
  • JPL Team Award (OCO-3 Geolocation Team) (2023)
  • JPL Voyager Award (OCO-3 SAMs) (2022)
  • JPL Team Award (OCO-2 & OCO-3 B10 Development) (2020)
  • JPL Voyager Award (OCO-3 IOC) (2019)
  • American Meteorological Society Graduate Fellow (2012-2013)

Selected Publications

  1. Cusworth, D. H., Thorpe, A. K., Miller, C. E., Ayasse, A. K., Jiorle, R., Duren, R. M., Nassar, R., Mastrogiacomo, J.-P., and Nelson, R. R.: Two years of satellite-based carbon dioxide emission quantification at the world's largest coal-fired power plants, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 23, 14577–14591, doi:10.5194/acp-23-14577-2023, 2023.
  2. Nelson, R. R., Witek, M. L., Garay, M. J., Bull, M. A., Limbacher, J. A., Kahn, R. A., Diner, D. A.: Improving the coverage of MISR aerosol retrievals over shallow, turbid, and eutrophic waters, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 16, 4947–4960, doi:10.5194/amt-16-4947-2023, 2023.
  3. Taylor, T. E., O'Dell, C. W., Baker, D., Bruegge, C., Chang, A., Chapsky, L., Chatterjee, A., Cheng, C., Chevallier, F., Crisp, D., Dang, L., Drouin, B., Eldering, A., Feng, L., Fisher, B., Fu, D., Gunson, M., Haemmerle, V., Keller, G. R., Kiel, M., Kuai, L., Kurosu, T., Lambert, A., Laughner, J., Lee, R., Liu, J., Mandrake, L., Marchetti, Y., McGarragh, G., Merrelli, A., Nelson, R. R., Osterman, G., Oyafuso, F., Palmer, P. I., Payne, V. H., Rosenberg, R., Somkuti, P., Spiers, G., To, C., Wennberg, P. O., Yu, S., Zong J.: Evaluating the consistency between OCO-2 and OCO-3 XCO2 estimates derived from the NASA ACOS version 10 retrieval algorithm, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 16, 3173–3209, doi:10.5194/amt-16-3173- 2023, 2023.
  4. Bell, E., O’Dell, C. W., Taylor, T. E., Merrelli, A., Nelson, R. R., Kiel, M., Eldering, A., Rosenberg, R., Fisher, B.: Exploring bias in OCO-3 Snapshot Area Mapping mode via geometry, surface, and aerosol effects, Atmos. Meas. Tech., doi:10.5194/amt-2022-241, 2022.
  5. Nassar, R., Moeini, O., Mastrogiacomo, J. P., O'Dell, C. W., Nelson, R. R., Kiel, M., Chatterjee, A., Eldering, A. and Crisp, D.: Tracking CO2 emission reductions from space: A case study at Europe’s largest fossil fuel power plant, Front. Remote Sens., doi:10.3389/frsen.2022.1028240, 2022.
  6. Wu, D., Liu, J., Wennberg, P. O., Palmer, P. I., Nelson, R. R., Kiel, M., Eldering, A.: Towards sector-based attribution using intra-city variations in satellite-based emission ratios between CO2 and CO, Atmos. Chem. Phys., doi:10.5194/acp-2021-1029, 2022.
  7. Taylor, T. E., O’Dell, C. W., Crisp, D., Kuze, A., Lindqvist, H., Wennberg, P. O., Chatterjee, A., Gunson, M., Eldering, A., Fisher, B., Kiel, M., Nelson, R. R., Merrelli, A., Osterman, G., Chevallier, F., Palmer, P. I., Feng, L., Deutscher, N. M., Dubey, M. K., Feist, D. G., García, O. E., Griffith, D. W. T., Hase, F., Iraci, L. T., Kivi, R., Liu, C., de Mazière, M., Morino, I., Notholt, J., Oh, Y.-S., Ohyama, H., Pollard, D. F., Rettinger, M., Roehl, C. M., Schneider, M., Sha, M. K., Shiomi, K., Strong, K., Sussmann, R., Té, Y., Velazco, V. A., Vrekoussis, M., Warneke, T., Wunch, D.: An eleven year record of XCO2 estimates derived from GOSAT measurements using the NASA ACOS version 9 retrieval algorithm, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 2022.
  8. Nelson, R. R., Eldering, A., Crisp, D., Merrelli, A. J., O’Dell., C. W.: Retrieved wind speed from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, Atmos. Meas. Tech., doi:10.5194/amt-13-6889-2020, 2020.
  9. Johnson, M. S., Schwandner, F. M., Potter, C. S., Nguyen, H. M., Bell, E., Nelson, R. R., Philip, S., O’Dell, C. W.: Carbon dioxide emissions during the 2018 Kilauea volcano eruption estimated using OCO-2 satellite retrievals, Geophys. Res. Lett., in press, doi:10.1029/2020GL090507, 2020.
  10. Taylor, T. E., Eldering, A., Merrelli, A., Kiel, M., Somkuti, P., Cheng C., Rosenberg, R., Fisher, B., Crisp, D., Basilio, R., Bennett, M., Cervantes, D., Chang, A., Dang, L., Frankenberg, C., Haemmerle, V. R., Keller, G. R., Kurosu, T., Laughner, J. L., Lee, R., Marchetti, Y., Nelson, R. R., O'Dell, C. W., Osterman, G., Pavlick, R., Roehl, C., Schneider, R., Spiers, G., To, C., Wells, C., Wennberg, P. O., Yelamanchili, A., Yu, S.: OCO-3 early mission operations and initial (vEarly) XCO2 and SIF retrievals, Remote Sens. Enviro., doi:10.1016/j.rse.2020.112032, 2020.
  11. Sanghavi, S., Nelson, R., Frankenberg, C., Gunson, M.: Aerosols in OCO-2/GOSAT retrievals of XCO2: an information content and error analysis, Remote Sens. Environ., doi:10.1016/j.rse.2020.112053, 2020.
  12. Kulawik, S. S., O'Dell, C., Nelson, R. R., and Taylor, T. E.: Validation of OCO-2 error analysis using simulated retrievals, Atmos. Meas. Tech., doi:10.5194/amt-2018-368, 2019.
  13. Nelson, R. R., O’Dell, C. W.: The Impact of Improved Aerosol Priors on Near-Infrared Measurements of Carbon Dioxide, Atmos. Meas. Tech., doi:10.5194/amt-12-1495-2019, 2019.
  14. O'Dell, C. W., Eldering, A., Wennberg, P. O., Crisp, D., Gunson, M. R., Fisher, B., Frankenberg, C., Kiel, M., Lindqvist, H., Mandrake, L., Merrelli, A., Natraj, V., Nelson, R. R., Osterman, G. B., Payne, V. H., Taylor, T. E., Wunch, D., Drouin, B. J., Oyafuso, F., Chang, A., McDuffie, J., Smyth, M., Baker, D. F., Basu, S., Chevallier, F., Crowell, S. M. R., Feng, L., Palmer, P. I., Dubey, M., García, O. E., Griffith, D. W. T., Hase, F., Iraci, L. T., Kivi, R., Morino, I., Notholt, J., Ohyama, H., Petri, C., Roehl, C. M., Sha, M. K., Strong, K., Sussmann, R., Te, Y., Uchino, O., and Velazco, V. A.: Improved retrievals of carbon dioxide from Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 with the version 8 ACOS algorithm, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 6539-6576,, 2018
  15. Nelson, R. R., Crisp, D., Ott, L. E., O’Dell, C. W.: High-accuracy measurements of total column water vapor from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 12261-12269, doi:10.1002/2016GL071200, 2016.
  16. Nelson, R. R., O’Dell, C. W., Taylor, T. E., Mandrake, L., and Smyth, M.: The potential of clear-sky carbon dioxide satellite retrievals, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 1671-1684, doi:10.5194/amt-9-1671-2016, 2016.
  17. Taylor, T. E., O'Dell, C. W., Frankenberg, C., Partain, P. T., Cronk, H. Q., Savtchenko, A., Nelson, R. R., Rosenthal, E. J., Chang, A. Y., Fisher, B., Osterman, G. B., Pollock, R. H., Crisp, D., Eldering, A., and Gunson, M. R.: Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) cloud screening algorithms: validation against collocated MODIS and CALIOP data, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 973-989, doi:10.5194/amt-9-973-2016, 2016