Profile for Molly Brown
Biospheric Sciences Laboratory
Greenbelt, MD 20771
Office Phone: 301-614-6616
Ph.D. in Geography, University of Maryland College Park, 2002
Area of Specialization: Remote Sensing, Economics and Development
Thesis Title: The Impact of Biophysical Conditions on Food Security in Three Sahelian Countries. Advisor: Stephen D. Prince
M.A. in Geography, University of Maryland College Park, 1998
B.S. in Biology and Environmental Sciences, Tufts University, 1991
Positions and Appointments
Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 10/09 – present
- Vegetation index specialist ensuring a consistent and comprehensive long term data record from vegetation for models and climate change analysis.
- Interdisciplinary research focused understanding how organizations use remote sensing data in decision making processes.
- Conduct global change and sustainable development research using socio-economic and biophysical datasets.
- Serving on Science Definition Teams for climate-related NASA missions
- Working with NASA Missions to implement applied science programs for the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), and ICESat2 missions
Senior Research Scientist, Science Systems and Applications, Inc. at NASA 3/02 – 9/08
- Evaluation of integrated remotely sensed variables for long-term climate and anthropogenic environmental change studies, with particular focus on semi-arid regions.
- Liaison and Principal Investigator in a project collaborating with the US Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), ensuring their access and effective use of a real time and projected vegetation index and rainfall data for Africa, Central America, Afghanistan and Haiti.
- Advisor to NASA’s Application Division’s International Sustainable Development initiative.
Faculty Research Assistant, University of Maryland 1/99 – 3/02
· Worked with resident scientists on a variety of technical and scientific objectives, including mapping, cataloging and delivering AVHRR 8km datasets to various clients;
- Collaborated with the NASA Global Mapping and Modeling Systems (GIMMS) Group on producing and distributing a consistent, coherent 24-year vegetation index dataset from AVHRR data;
· Conducted original research on the interaction of grain prices and vegetation dynamics in the West African Sahel;
Professional Education Program Manager, SENECI 7/94 – 9/95
· Conceived, marketed, and implemented multiple 5-day local language (Wolof) professional development programs for secretaries and mid-level managers for this small American consulting firm in Dakar, Senegal.
Volunteer, US Peace Corps, Senegal 6/92 – 7/94
· Developed an outdoor education program for elementary schools involving teacher training, curriculum development and student projects that was adopted by environmental education volunteers throughout the U.S. Peace Corps in the Africa and Latin American regions.
Assistant Professorial Lecturer in Geography, George Washington University 1/04 – 5/04
Geog 107, Introduction to Remote Sensing, Department of Geography
Course included weekly image processing laboratory, using ENVI software
Faculty Teaching Assistant, University of Maryland 9/97 – 5/98
Human Geography, Department of Geography, approximately 150 students, two semesters.
Vegetation Data and Links
Where can I get the GIMMS Group AVHRR NDVI historical data?
The new collaborative Long Term Data Record (LTDR) project using AVHRR data can be found at LTDR
To see real-time NDVI anomaly images for Africa from both AVHRR and SPOT, go to: NDVI Anomalies for Africa and Afghanistan
Research Interests Molly E. Brown, PhD My research contributes to NASA’s mission: ‘to advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe’. Two NASA earth science questions are at the center of my work: ‘How does the earth system respond to natural and human-induced changes?’ and ‘What are the consequences of change in the earth system for human civilization?’ To explore these questions, I conduct research in four areas: data fusion to develop long term data records of vegetation dynamics for carbon cycle and terrestrial ecosystem modeling; research to develop science data and analysis for societal applications; modeling of land cover and land use in the context of climate variability; and the development of models and methods that enable the quantification of the impact of climate change on human economic and political systems. Ongoing projects include:
- Developing new methods to integrate remote sensing data into econometric and food security models to improve the understanding of the effect of weather and climate on society;
- Improving methods to fuse remote sensing data observations of vegetation from multiple sensors;
- Working with local, national and international organizations to incorporate Earth science data and models to improve hazard early warning and understand of the threats of climate change;
- Communicating the impacts of climate change and variability to private and government land managers in Maryland, particularly on forest resources.
Brown, M.E., and V. Escobar (2014). Assessment of Soil Moisture Data Requirements by the Potential SMAP Data User Community: Review of SMAP Mission User Community IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 7(1), 277–283
Brown, M.E., K. Grace, G. Shively, K. Johnson, and M. Carroll (2014). Using Satellite Remote Sensing and Household Survey Data to Assess Human Health and Nutrition Response to Environmental Change. Population and Environment.
Iizumi, T., Luo J., Challinor A., Sakurai G., Yokozawa M., Sakuma H., M.E. Brown, and Yamagata T. (2014). Impacts of El Nin ̃ o Southern Oscillation on the global yields of major crops Nature Communications, 5(3712).
Brown, M.E., V. Escobar, Aschbacher J, Milagro-Perez M, Doorn B, Macauley M , and Friedl L (2013). Policy for robust space-based earth science, technology and applications Space Policy, 29(1), 76-82
Brown, M.E., K.C. Silver, and K. Rajagopalan (2013). A City and National Metric Measuring Isolation from the Global Market for Food Security Assessment Applied Geography Journal, 38, 119-128
Brown, M.E., V. Escobar, M.S. Moran, D. Entekhabi, E. G. Njoku, B. Doorn, and J.K. Entin (2013). NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission and Opportunities For Applications Users Bulletin of American Meteorological Society, 11-14
Brown, M.E., V. Escobar, M.S. Moran, D. Entekhabi, P.E. O'Neill, E. G. Njoku, B. Doorn, and J.K. Entin (2013). NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission and Opportunities for Applications Users Bulletin of American Meteorological Society, 94(8), 1125-1128
Brown, M.E., Walsh M., Hauser R., Murray A., Jadin J., Backlund P., and Robinson P. (2013). Global Climate Change, Food Security and the U.S. Food System Author Meeting Workshop Report
Cynthia Rosenzweig, D. Bader, M.E. Brown, R. DeYoung, M. Fellows, L. Friedl, K. Gotwals, W. Graham, C. Hall, S. Higuchi, C. Hudson, G. Jedlovec, J. Kaye, M. Lowenstein, T. Mace, C. Milesi, W. Patzert, P. Stackhouse, and K. Toufectis (2013). Enhancing Climate Resilience at NASA Centers: The Climate Adaptation Science Investigator Workgroup (CASI) for Science and Stewardship. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Iizumi, T., H. Sakuma, M. Yokozawa, J.-J. Luo, A.J. Challinor, M.E. Brown, G. Sakurai, and T. Yamagata (2013). Prediction of seasonal climate-induced variations in global food production levels Nature Climate Change, 3, 904-908
Johnson, K., A. Jacob, and M.E. Brown (2013). Forest cover associated with improved health and nutrition outcomes in Malawi: Evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys and NASA satellite remote sensing data Global Health: Science and Practice, 1(2), 237-248
K. de Beurs , and M.E. Brown (2013). The Effect of Agricultural Growing Season Change on Market Prices in Africa.. In Climate Variability - Regional and Thematic Patterns. Rijeka, Croatia: In Tech.
Kim, D., M. Chin, H. Bian, Q. Tan, M.E. Brown, T. Zheng, R. You, T. Diehl, P. Ginoux, and T. Kucsera (2013). The Effect of the Dynamic Surface Bareness to Dust Source Function, Emission, and Distribution Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 118, 1-16
Kim, D., M. Chin, H. Bian, Q. Tan, M.E. Brown, T. Zheng, R. You, T. Diehl, P. Ginoux, and T. Kucsera (2013). The Effect of the Dynamic Surface Bareness to Dust Source Function, Emission, and Distribution. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 118, 1-16
Panday, P., C. Williams, K. Frey, and M.E. Brown (2013). Application and evaluation of a snowmelt runoff model in the Tamor River basin, eastern Himalaya using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) data assimilation approach Hydrol. Process.
West, T., M.E. Brown, R.M. Duren, S.M. Ogle, and R.H. Moss (2013). ) Definition, Capabilities, and Components of a Terrestrial Carbon Monitoring System Carbon Management, 4(4), 413-422
Brown, M.E., and V. Escobar (2012). SMAP mission applications: a professional review of the pre-launch SMAP mission user community IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 50, 429-435
Brown, M.E., K. de Beurs, and M.Marshall (2012). Global Phenological Response to Climate in Crop Areas using Humidity and Temperature Models. Remote Sensing of Environment, 126.
Brown, M., F. Tondel, T. Essam, J.A. Thorne, B.F. Mann, K. Leonard, B. Stabler, and G. Eilerts (2012). Country and Regional Staple Food Price Indices for Improved Identification of Food Insecurity Global Environmental Change - Policy Dimensions, 22(3), 784-794
Williams, A., M.E. Brown, E. Moriarty, and J.A. Wertman (2012). Informing Policy Choices Geographically: Emerging and Expanding Government and Non-Governmental Career Opportunities. In Practicing Geography. (84-96). Washington, DC: Blackwell Press.
Brown, M.E., and Elizabeth B Brickley (2011). The Use of Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators of Food Security in Early Warning Assessments Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance
Brown, M.E., Moran, S., Escobar, V., Entekhabi, D., P.E. O'Neill, and Njoku, E (2011). The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) applications activity Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2011 IEEE International, 2306 - 2309
Escobar, V. M., M.E. Brown, and Moran, S. M. (2011). The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission: Improving Science Application Tools and Research Proc. of IGARSS
SU-JONG JEONG, CHANG-HOI HO, HYEON-JU GIM, and M.E. Brown (2011). Phenology shifts at start vs. end of growing season in temperate vegetation over the Northern Hemisphere for the period 1982–2008 Global Change Biology, 17(7), 2385–2399,
Williams, D., M.E. Brown, J. Masek, C.J. Tucker, and Celeste Jarvis (2011). A Low-cost, Small-sat Mission Concept to Augment Landsat Temporal Repeat Frequency International Symposium for Remote Sensing of the Environment
Brown, M.E., H. Ouyang, S. Habib, B. Shrestha, P. Panday, M. Tzortziou, F. Policelli, G. Artan, A. Giriraj, SR., and A. Racovinteanu (2010). HIMALA: Climate impacts on glaciers, snow, and hydrology in the Himalayan Region Mountain Research and Development, 30(4), 401-404
Brown, M.E., Kirsten de Beurs, and Anton Vrieling (2010). The response of African land surface phenology to large scale climate oscillations Remote Sensing of Environment, 114, 2286-2296
Brown, M.E., and C.C. Funk (2010). Early Warning of Food Security Crises in Urban aread: the Case of Harare, Zimbabwe, 2007. In Pamela Showalter and Yongmai Lu (Ed.), Geospatial Techniques in Urban Hazard and Disaster Analysis. (229-241). London, New York: Springer-Verlag.
Brown, M.E. (2010). Review of Remote Sensing Needs and Applications in Africa African Geographical Review, 29(1), 104-108
Brown, M.E. (2010). Climate Change, Nutrition and Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa SCN News, 38, 32-36
Brown, M.E. (2010, November/December). Earth Science Data and Models for Improved Targeting of Humanitarian Aid Livebetter
Brown, M.E., S. Moran, V. Escobar, D. Entekhabi, P.E. O'Neill, and E. Njoku (2010). The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Applications Program IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 98(5), 704-716
Ceccato P., M.E. Brown, C. Funk, C. Small, E. Holthaus, A. Siebert, and N. Ward (2010). Remote Sensing- Vegetation ANNEX Index insurance and climate risk: Prospects for development and disaster management.
Ingram, John, Jens Andersson, Gabriele Bammer, M.E. Brown, Ken Giller, Thomas Henrichs, John Holmes, Jim Jones, Rutger Schilpzand, and John Young (2010). Engaging stakeholders at the regional level. In John Ingram, Polly Ericksen and Diana Liverman (Ed.), Food Security and Global Environmental Change. (Ch. 11). London, New York: Earthscan publications.
Brown, M.E. (2009). Food Security, Decision Making and the use of Remote Sensing in Famine Early Warning Systems Geography Compass, 3(4), 1381–1407
Bro-Jørgensen, J., M.E. Brown, and N. Pettorelli (2008). Using the satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to explain ranging patterns in a lek-breeding antelope: the importance of scale Oecologia
Brown, M.E. (2008). Famine Early Warning Systems and Remote Sensing Data Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, XVIII, 313 pp, 91 illus, IS
Brown, M.E. (2008). The Impact of Climate Change on Income Diversification and Food Security in Senegal. In A. Millington, W. Jepson (Ed.), Land Change Science in the Tropics: Changing Agricultural Landscapes. (Chapter 3, pp. 33-52). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Brown, M.E., C.C. Funk, R. Choularton, and J. Verdin (2008). Merging Models with Observations for Earth Monitoring Data for Earlier Famine Early Warning Proc. IGARSS
Brown, M.E., and B. McCusker (2008). Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa: Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies Book Review in EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 89(47).
Brown, M.E., D. Lary, A. Vrieling, D. Stathakis, and H. Mussa (2008). Neural Networks as a Tool for Constructing Continuous NDVI Time Series from AVHRR and MODIS International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29(24), 7141-7158
Funk, C.C., M. Dettinger, J. Michaelsen, J.P. Verdin, M.E. Brown, M. Barlow, and A. Hoell (2008). The Warm Ocean Dry Africa dipole threatens food insecurity in Africa, but could be mitigated by agricultural development Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(32), 11081-11086
Tarnavsky, E., S. Garrigues, and M.E. Brown (2008). Multiscale geostatistical analysis of AVHRR, SPOT-VGT, and MODIS global NDVI products Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(2), 535-549
Vrieling, A., K.M. de Beurs, and M.E. Brown (2008). Recent trends in agricultural production of Africa based on AVHRR NDVI time series. In C.M.U. Neale, M. Owe, G. D'Irso (Ed.), Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology X. Proc. SPIE Int. Soc. Opt. Eng..
Brown, M.E., C.C. Funk, G. Galu, and R. Choularton (2007). Earlier Famine Warning Possible Using Remote Sensing and Models EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 88(39), 381–382
Brown, M.E., J.E. Pinzon, K. Didan, J.T. Morisette, and C.J. Tucker (2006). Evaluation of the Consistency of Long-Term NDVI Time Series Derived From AVHRR, SPOT-Vegetation, SeaWiFS, MODIS, and Landsat ETM+ Sensors IEEE Transactions Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 44(7), 1787-1793
Brown, M.E. (2006). Assessing Natural Resource Management Challenges in Senegal Using Data from Participatory Rural Appraisals and Remote Sensing World Development, 34(4), 751-767
Brown, M.E., and S. Habib (2005). The Famine Early Warning System and NASA Earth Science Data 31st International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment Technical Program Proceedings
Pinzon, J.E., J.F. Pierce, C.J. Tucker, and M.E. Brown (2001). Evaluating Coherence of Natural Images by Smoothness Membership in Besov Spaces. In IEEE Transactions. (1879-1889). Geoscience and Remote Sensing.