Dr. Tom Painter

Dr. Thomas Painter

Research Scientist, Hydrology

Thomas H. Painter is Founder/CEO of the NASA technology transfer and public benefit corporation Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc. and a Project Scientist at the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. His areas of interest are snow hydrology, water resources applications from mountain snow and ice, radiative impacts of light-absorbing impurities on snow and glacier melt, and multi-sensor remote sensing of snow properties. He was the Principal Investigator of the NASA/JPL Airborne Snow Observatory, an integrated imaging spectrometer and LiDAR system to give the first-ever comprehensive, near real-time maps of snow water equivalent and snow reflectivity in mountain basins. He is also Co-Investigator on the NASA Earth Venture Instrument EMIT, an imaging spectrometer to fly on the International Space Station in 2022 to explore mineralogy of and radiative forcing by desert dust. Dr. Painter has pioneered our understanding of the impacts of dust emission from land use change on snow and ice cover in mountain systems and the hydrologic response and impacts of black carbon on regional glaciation in the Anthropocene. He has developed cutting edge remote sensing and field models for snow properties from multispectral to imaging spectrometer sensors, scanning lidar systems, and radar systems. His efforts resulted in the development of the NASA Western Water Applications Office and the establishment of the NASA Surface Biology and Geology imaging spectrometer measurement concept. Dr. Painter is Past-President of the Cryosphere Section of the American Geophysical Union. In 2018, he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal and the Bureau of Reclamation’s John W. Keys III Award. In 2019, he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.


California, USA

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