NASA Logo Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology View the NASA Portal
NASA Banner
NASA Banner
NASA Banner
NASA Banner
JPL Science
JPL Science Division Home
Planetary Science Planetary Science
Astrophysics & Space Sciences Astrophysics & Space Sciences
Earth Science Earth Science
Center for Climate Sciences (3292)
Earth Surface And Interior (329A)
Ocean Circulation And Air Sea Interaction (329B)
Sea Level And Ice (329C)
Stratosphere And Upper Troposphere (329D)
Atmospheric Physics And Weather (329E)
Terrestrial Hydrology (329F)
Carbon Cycle And Ecosystems (329G)
Laboratory Studies And Atmospheric Observations (329H)
Tropospheric Composition (329I)
Aerosols And Clouds (329J)
Directorate Science Affiliates Directorate Science Affiliates
Open Postdoc Positions Open Postdoc Positions
Brochures Brochures
 Atmospheric Physics And Weather (329E): People
Heidar Thor  Thrastarson's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 233-300
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
Email Contact:
Curriculum Vitae:

Heidar Thor Thrastarson

Dr. Thrastarson was born and raised in Iceland, where he got his first Physics degree and thereafter worked in radiation physics at the Icelandic National Hospital. He furthered his education in Uppsala, Sweden, where he specialized in astrophysics and then got his PhD in London, where he started working on modelling of planetary atmospheres and, in particular, extrasolar planets. He came to JPL as a NASA Postdoctoral fellow in November 2011 and is currently a JIFRESSE researcher. His work at JPL has focused on planetary atmospheres, ranging from extrasolar planets to the Earth, using both Climate Models and satellite data. 

  • PhD, Astrophysics, Queen Mary University of London, UK (2011)
  • MSc, Physics, Uppsala University, Sweden (2007)
  • BSc, Physics, University of Iceland (2003)

Research Interests
  • Dynamics and physics of planetary atmospheres, including boundary layers, clouds and convection, wave-flow interaction, large scale variability, thermodynamic structure and comparative climatology
  • Physical and numerical aspects of General Circulation Modeling and radiative-convective modeling
  • Observational atmospheric data analysis and application, including satellite radio occultations and infrared sounding
  • Climate and health applications, using climate data in epidemiological models for diseases
  • Characterization of extrasolar planets
  • Astrophysical fluid dynamics


The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, is an instrument whose goal is to support climate research and improved weather forecasting.

JIFRESSE is a scientific collaboration between UCLA and JPL to improve understanding and to develop future projections about global climate change.

Professional Experience
  • Assistant Researcher, Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (2015-present)
  • Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (2015)
  • NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (2011-2015)
  • Teaching assistant at Queen Mary University of London, UK (2007-2010)
  • Observations assistant at the Swedish 1-meter Solar Telescope, La Palma, Spain (2007)
  • Physicist in radiotherapy for cancer at Landspitali - University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland (2003-2006)
  • Teaching assistant at Iceland Technical University and University of Iceland (2004-2005)
  • Research Assistant at the Iceland Science Institute (2002 and 2003)
  • Trainee at Sony DADC, Salzburg, Austria (2001)

Community Service
  • Referee for The Astrophysical Journal and Icarus
  • Convener for the session "Nonlinear Processes in Planetary Atmospheres and Protoplanetary Disks" at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (2012)

Selected Awards
  • JPL Outstanding Postdoc Research Award, Planetary Science and Life Detection (2013)
  • NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship
  • Royal Astronomical Society Research and Grants Fund
  • Institute of Physics Research Student Conference Fund
  • CR Barber Trust Fund
  • Anna and Allan Löfbergs Stipend

Selected Publications
  1. Cho, J. Y-K., Polichtchouk, I. & Thrastarson, H. Th. (2015). “Sensitivity and Variability Redux in Hot-Jupiter Flow Simulations”. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 454, pp. 3423-3431.
  2. Polichtchouk, I., Cho, J.Y-K, Watkins, C., Thrastarson, H. Th., Umurhan, O.M. & de la Torre Juarez, M. (2014). "Intercomparison of General Circulation Models for Hot Extrasolar Planets”. Icarus, Volume 229, pp. 355-377.
  3. Thrastarson, H. Th. & Cho, J.Y-K. (2011). "Relaxation Time and Dissipation Interaction in Hot Planet Atmospheric Flow Simulations". Astrophysical Journal, Volume 729, pp. 117.
  4. Thrastarson, H. Th. & Cho, J.Y-K. (2010). "Effects of Initial Flow on Close-in Planet Atmospheric Circulation". Astrophysical Journal, Volume 716, 1, pp. 144-153.

Group Home Page
People in this Group
Group Projects

JPL Privacy Statement Sitemap Contact Site Manager