Michael King

Senior Research Scientist


  • Phone: 303-492-8099
  • Fax: 303-735-3737
  • Alternate email:
  • Office: SPSC-W136


After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, Dr. King joined NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in January 1978 as a physical scientist, where he served as Project Scientist of the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment from 1983-1992 and Senior Project Scientist of NASA’s Earth Observing System from 1992 to 2008. After retiring, he joined LASP as a Senior Research Scientist.

King’s research experience includes conceiving, developing, and operating multispectral scanning radiometers from a number of aircraft platforms in field campaigns ranging from arctic stratus clouds to smoke from the Kuwait oil fires and biomass burning in Brazil and Africa. He has also developed inversion algorithms for deriving aerosol size distribution and refractive index from ground-based sun/sky radiometers.

Dr. King is Team Leader of the MODIS science team on the Terra and Aqua satellites. As a team member, he also led the development of 5 science algorithms run routinely to process MODIS data, including the algorithm for determining cloud optical thickness and effective particle radius of both liquid water and ice clouds.

He has authored over 107 papers published in refereed scientific journals, in addition to editing 1 Book (Our Changing Planet: The View from Space), 5 Scientific Documents, and 26 book chapters.


University of Arizona — Tucson, AZ
Ph.D. Atmospheric Sciences, 1977

University of Arizona — Tucson, AZ
M.S. Atmospheric Sciences, 1973

Colorado College — Colorado Springs, CO
B.A. Physics, 1971

Employment history

LASP, University of Colorado — Senior Research Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center — Earth Observing System (EOS) Senior Project Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center — Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) Project Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center — Research Scientist

Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University — Visiting Professor (2 months/year)

Dept. of Physics, Colorado College — Visiting Professor

Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington — Visiting Professor


(1) remote sensing of cloud optical and microphysical properties from reflected solar radiation measurements
(2) bidirectional reflectance of natural ecosystems
(3) inversion of aerosol optical and microphysical properties from ground-based sun/sky radiometers
(4) satellite remote sensing instrumentation and analysis


Algorithm development and climatology from the MODIS instrument on the Terra and Aqua spacecraft, especially cloud optical and microphysical properties.


“Our Changing Planet: The View from Space” (M. D. King, C. L. Parkinson, K. C. Partington, and R. G. Williams, Eds.) Cambridge University Press, 390 pp. (2007).

“Optical property model for cirrus clouds based on airborne multi-angle polarization observations” (Y. Wang, P. Yang, M. D. King, and B. A. Baum) Remote Sens., 13, 2754, doi:10.3390/rs13142754 (2021).

“The effect of low-level thin Arctic clouds on shortwave irradiance: Evaluation of estimates from spaceborne passive imagery with aircraft observations” (H. Chen, S. Schmidt, M. D. King, G. Wind, A. Bucholtz, E. A. Reid, M. Segal-Rozenhaimer, W. L. Smith, P. C. Taylor, S. Kato, and P. Pilewskie) Atmos. Meas. Tech., 14, 2673–2697 (2021).

“A fast vector radiative transfer model for the atmosphere-ocean coupled system” (J. Ding, P. Yang, M. D. King, S. Platnick, X. Liu, K. G. Meyer, and C. Wang) J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 239, doi:10.1016/j.jqsrt.2019.106667 (2019).

“Ice cloud optical thickness, [...]

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National Academy of Engineering (Member)
American Meteorological Society (Fellow)
American Geophysical Union (Fellow)
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (Fellow)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow)

Honors and awards

2019 William T. Pecora Award, Terra Team, US Dept. of the Interior and NASA
2015 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2015 Selected as Faculty Fellow, Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University
2014 Elected Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
2010 Award of Excellence, Society for Technical Communication, International Technical Publications Competition, for ‘Our Changing Planet: The View from Space’
2006 Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Senior Professional
2006 Space Systems Award, American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics
2006 Elected Fellow, American Geophysical Union
2003 Elected Member, National Academy of Engineering
2001 William Nordberg Memorial Award for Earth Science, Goddard Space Flight Center
2001 NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
2000 Verner E. Suomi Award, American Meteorological Society
1995 Doctor of Science honoris causa, Colorado College
1993 Transaction Prize Paper Award, IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society
1992 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
1990 Elected Fellow, American Meteorological Society
1985 NASA Exceptional Service Medal
1971 Magna cum laude, Colorado College

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