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Josh Willis

Photo of Josh Willis


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 300-323

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Sea Level And Ice

Principal Scientist


  • B.S., Physics & Mathematics, University of Houston, Honors College, Houston, Texas (1996)
  • M.S., Physics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California (1998)
  • Ph.D., Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California (2004)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2004 - present)
    • Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 Project Scientist (2016 - present)
    • OMG Principal Investigator (2014-present)
    • Jason-3 Project Scientist (2011-present)
    • Jason-2 Project Scientist (2009 - present)
    • Scientist (2006 - present)
    • Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar (2004 - 2006)

Research Interests

  • Understanding the ocean's role in Greenland ice loss
  • Estimating ocean warming and sea level rise on regional to global scales
  • The role of the ocean in the Earth's climate system under global climate change

Selected Awards

  • NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal (2021)
  • AMS Nicholas P. Fofonoff Award (2016)
  • Bruce Murray Award for Excellence in Education and Public Engagement (2016)
  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2012)
  • AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award (2011)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2009)
  • Lew Allen Award for Excellence (2009)

Selected Publications

  1. Le Bras, I. A.-A., J. Willis, and I. Fenty (2023), The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 35°N from deep moorings, floats, and satellite altimeter. Geophysical Research Letters., accepted.
  2. Willis, J. K., Wood, M. (2022), Lessons From Oceans Melting Greenland, a NASA Airborne Mission. 2022 Arctic Report Card, NOAA Techincal Report,
  3. Hamlington, B. D., Frederikse, T., Thompson, P. R., Willis, J. K., Nerem, R. S., & Fasullo, J. T. (2021). Past, present, and future Pacific sea-level change. Earth's Future, 8, e2020EF001839,
  4. Wood, M., Rignot, E., Fenty, I., An, L., Bjørk, A., van den Broeke, M., Cai, C., Kane, E., Menemenlis, D., Millan, R., Morlighem, M., Mouginot, J., Noël, B., Scheuchl, B., Velicogna, I., Willis, J. K., Zhang, H. (2021). Ocean forcing drives glacier retreat in Greenland. Science Advances, Vol. 7, no. 1, eaba7282.
  5. Ala Khazendar, Ian G. Fenty, Dustin Carroll, Alex Gardner, Craig M. Lee, Ichiro Fukumori, Ou Wang, Hong Zhang, Hélène Seroussi, Delwyn Moller, Brice P. Y. Noël, Michiel R. van den Broeke, Steven Dinardo, J. K. Willis (2019), Interruption of Two Decades of Jakobshavn Isbrae Acceleration and Thinning as Regional Ocean Cools, Nature Geoscience, 12, 277-283 (2019).
  6. Willis, J.K., D. Carroll, I. Fenty, G. Kohli, A. Khazendar, M. Rutherford, N. Trenholm, and M. Morlighem (2018), Ocean-ice interactions in Inglefield Gulf: Early results from NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland mission. Oceanography 31(2).
  7. An L, Rignot E, Millan R, Tinto K, Willis J. Bathymetry of Northwest Greenland Using "Ocean Melting Greenland" (OMG) High-Resolution Airborne Gravity and Other Data. Remote Sensing. 2019; 11(2):131.
  8. V. Nieves, M. Marcos, and J. K. Willis. Upper-ocean contribution to short-term regional coastal sea level variability along the U.S. J. Climate, 30(11): 4037-4045 (2017).
  9. Fenty, I., J.K. Willis, A. Khazendar, S. Dinardo, R. Forsberg, I. Fukumori, D. Holland, M. Jakobsson, D. Moller, J. Morison, A. Münchow, E. Rignot, M. Schodlok, A.F. Thompson, K. Tinto, M. Rutherford, and N. Trenholm (2016), Oceans Melting Greenland: Early results from NASA's ocean-ice mission in Greenland, Oceanography 29(4):72-83,
  10. Morlighem, M., E. Rignot, and J.K. Willis (2016), Improving bed topography mapping of Greenland glaciers using NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) data, Oceanography 29(4):62-71,
  11. Nieves, J. K. Willis, W. Patzert (2015), Recent hiatus caused by decadal shift in Indo-Pacific heating, Science, under review.
  12. Nieves, V., J. Wang, and J. K. Willis (2014), A conceptual model of ocean freshwater flux derived from sea surface salinity, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 6452–6458, doi:10.1002/2014GL061365.
  13. Llovel, W., J. K. Willis, F. W. Landerer, and I. Fukumori, (2014), Deep-ocean contribution to sea level and energy budget not detectable over the past decade, Nature Climate Change, 4, 1031–1035, doi:10.1038/nclimate2387.
  14. Hobbs, W., and J. K. Willis (2013), Detection of an observed 135-year ocean temperature change from limited data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, doi:10.1002/grl.50370.
  15. Willis J. and J. Church (2012), Regional Sea Level Projection, Science, 336, pp 548-549, doi:10.1126/science.1220366.
  16. Boening, C., J. K. Willis, F. W. Landerer, R. S. Nerem, and J. Fasullo (2012), The 2011 La Niña: So strong, the oceans fell, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L19602, doi:10.1029/2012GL053055.
  17. Hobbs, W. R., and J. K. Willis (2012), Midlatitude North Atlantic heat transport: A time series based on satellite and drifter data, J. Geophys. Res., 117, C01008, doi:10.1029/2011JC007039.
  18. Leuliette, E., and J. K. Willis (2011), Balancing the Sea-level Budget, Oceanography, 24(2):122-129, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2011.32.
  19. Willis J., L. Miller, and G. Mountain (2011), Sea Level: An Introduction to the Special Issue, Oceanography, 24(2):22-23, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2011.24.
  20. Lee, T., W. R. Hobbs, J. K. Willis, D. Halkides, I. Fukumori, E. M. Armstrong, A. K. Hayashi, W. T. Liu, W. Patzert, and O. Wang (2010), Record warming in the South Pacific and western Antarctica associated with the strong central-Pacific El Niño in 2009-10, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L19704, doi:10.1029/2010GL044865.
  21. Syed, T., J. Famiglietti, D. Chambers, J. Willis and K. Hilburn (2010), Increasing Continental Freshwater Discharge from Satellite-Based Global Ocean Mass Balance (1994-2006), Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, published online Oct 4, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003292107.
  22. Chambers D. P., J. K. Willis (2010), A Global Evaluation of Ocean Bottom Pressure from GRACE, OMCT, and Steric-Corrected Altimetry, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 27, 1395-1402, doi:10.1175/2010JTECHO738.1.
  23. Willis, J.K., D. P. chambers, C.-Y. Kuo, and C. K. Shum (2010), Global Sea Level Rise: Recent Progress and Challenges for the Decade to Come, Oceanography, 23(4), 26-35.
  24. Lyman, J. M., S. A. Good, V. V. Gouretski, M. Ishii, G. C. Johnson, M. D. Palmer, D. A. Smith, and J. K. Willis (2010), Robust warming of the global upper ocean, Nature, 465, 334-337 doi:10.1038/nature09043.
  25. Willis, J. K., Can In-Situ Floats and Satellite Altimeters Detect Changes in Atlantic Ocean Overturning? (2010), Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L06602, doi:10.1029/2010GL042372.
  26. Marcus, S. L., J. O. Dickey, J. K. Willis, and F. K. Seitz (2009), Earth oblateness changes reveal land ice contribution to interannual sea level variability, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L23608, doi:10.1029/2009GL041130.
  27. Chambers D. P., J. K. Willis (2009), Low-frequency exchange of mass between ocean basins, J. Geophys. Res., 114, C11008, doi:10.1029/2009JC005518.
  28. Willis, J.K., J.M. Lyman, G.C. Johnson, and J. Gilson (2009), In Situ Data Biases and Recent Ocean Heat Content Variability, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 26, 846-852.
  29. Dickey J. O., S. L. Marcus, J. K. Willis, Ocean cooling: Constraints from changes in Earth's dynamic oblateness (J 2) and altimetry (2008), Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L18608, doi:10.1029/2008GL035115.
  30. Chambers D. P., J. K. Willis (2008), Analysis of large-scale ocean bottom pressure variability in the North Pacific, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C11003, doi:10.1029/2008JC004930.
  31. Willis J. K., L.-L. Fu (2008), Combining altimeter and subsurface float data to estimate the time-averaged circulation in the upper ocean, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C12017, doi:10.1029/2007JC004690.
  32. Wijffels, S.E., J. Willis, C.M. Domingues, P. Barker, N.J. White, A. Gronell, K. Ridgway, and J.A. Church (2008), Changing Expendable Bathythermograph Fall Rates and Their Impact on Estimates of Thermosteric Sea Level Rise. J. Climate, 21, 5657-5672.
  33. Tamrazian, A., S. LaDochy,J. Willis, and W. C. Patzert (2008), Heat Waves in Southern California: Are They Becoming More Frequent and Lasting Longer?, Yearbook of the APCG, 70, 59-69.
  34. Willis, J.K., D. P. Chambers, R. S. Nerem (2008), Assessing the Globally Averaged Sea Level Budget on Seasonal to Interannual Time Scales, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C06015, doi:10.1029/2007JC004517.
  35. Willis, J. K., J. M. Lyman, G. C. Johnson, and J. Gilson (2007), Correction to "Recent cooling of the upper ocean". Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L16601, doi:10.1029/2007GL030323.
  36. Wong, T., B. A. Wielicki, R. B. Lee, G.L. Smith, K. A. Bush, and J. K. Willis (2006), Re-examination of the observed decadal variability of earth radiation budget using altitude-corrected ERBE/ERBS nonscanner WFOV data, J. Climate, 19(16), pp. 4028-4040.
  37. Lyman, J., J. K. Willis, G. Johnson (2006), Recent cooling of the upper ocean, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L18604, doi:10.1029/2006GL027033.
  38. Hansen, J., L. Nazarenko, R. Ruedy, M. Sato, J. Willis, A. Del Genio, D. Koch, A. Lacis, K. Lo, S. Menon, T. Novakov, J. Perlwitz, G. Russell, G.A. Schmidt, N. Tausnev (2005), Earth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications, Science, 308.
  39. Willis, J. K., D. Roemmich, and B. Cornuelle (2004), Interannual variability in upper-ocean heat content, temperature and thermosteric expansion on global scales, J. Geophys. Res., 109 (C12036).
  40. Willis, J. K., D. Roemmich, and B. Cornuelle (2003), Combining altimetric height with broadscale profile data to estimate steric height, heat storage, subsurface temperature, and sea-surface temperature variability, J. Geophys. Res., 108 (C9), 3292.