Profile for Molly Brown

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Title: Research Scientist
Affiliation: NASA
Contact: E-mail
Biospheric Sciences Laboratory
Code 618
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Office Phone: 301-614-6616
Fax: 301-614-6695



            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

    Medford, Massachusetts


Positions and Appointments

Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center                               10/09 – present


Senior Research Scientist, Science Systems and Applications, Inc. at NASA        3/02 – 9/08


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;

·      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.


Teaching Experience

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?

Go to the University of Maryland's Global Land Cover Facility

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

To get real-time climate and weather data for Africa, Central America, Afghanistan and other regions, go to the NOAA CPC/FEWS page at: Weather Hazards Site FEWS NET Web Site

Research Interests

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:


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

Carroll, M., Schnase J., Weber K., M.E. Brown, Gill R., Haskett G., and Gardner T. (2013). A new application to facilitate post-fire recovery and rehabilitation in Savanna ecosystems. Earthzine.

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.E., V. Escobar, and Lovell, Heather (2012). Communicating the Needs of Climate Change Policy Makers to Scientists. In Climate Change. In Tech: ISBN 980-953-307-389-2.

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

Brown, M., and E. B. Brickley (2012). Evaluating the Use of Remote Sensing data in the USAID Famine Early Warning Systems Network Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, 6(063511).

Brown, M., and M. Macauley (2012). Bringing together users and developers of forest biomass maps Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 93(3), 32

Molly E. Brown, and Macauley, Molly (2012). Understanding climate policy data need Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 93(34), 328

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.

Anton Vrieling, Kirsten M Beurs, and M.E. Brown (2011). Variability of African farming systems from phenological analysis of NDVI time series Climatic Change, 1-23

Brown, M.E., Daniel E. Osgood, and Miguel A. Carriquiry (2011). Science-based insurance Nature Geoscience , 4, 213-214

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.

S-J Jeong, C-H Ho, M.E. Brown, J-S Kug, and S Piao (2010). Browning in desert boundaries in Asia in recent decades Journal of Geophysical Research- Atmosphere.

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

Brown, M.E., B. Hintermann, and N. Higgins (2009). Markets, Climate Change and Food Security in West Africa Environmental Science and Technology, 43(21), 8016-8020

Funk, C., and M.E. Brown (2009). Declining Global per Capital Agricultural Capacity and Warming Oceans Threaten Food Security Food Security Journal.

Rosenzweig, C., and M.E. Brown (2009). Space Agency Workshop Considers Effect of Climate Change on Infrastructure Eos Trans. AGU, 90(40).

Ross, K.W., M.E. Brown, J. Verdin, and L.W. Underwood (2009). Review of FEWS NET biophysical monitoring requirements Environmental Research Letters, 4(2), 024009

Ross, K.W., M.E. Brown, J. Verdin, and L.W. Underwood (2009). Review of FEWS NET biophysical monitoring requirements Environmental Research Letters, 4(024009), 10pp

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., C.C. Funk, J. Verdin, and G. Eilerts (2008). Ensuring food security – Response Sci., 320(5876), 611-612

Brown, M.E. (2008). Famine Early Warning Systems and Remote Sensing Data Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, XVIII, 313 pp, 91 illus, IS

Brown, M.E., and C.C. Funk (2008). Food Security Under Climate Change Sci., 319, 580-581

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., S.D. Prince, and J.E. Pinzon (2008). Using Satellite Remote Sensing Data in a Spatially Explicit Price Model Land Economics, 84(2), 340-357

Brown, M.E., and K.M. de Beurs (2008). Evaluation of multi-sensor semi-arid crop season parameters based on NDVI and rainfall Remote Sens. Environ., 112(5), 2261-2271

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

Brown, M.E., C.C. Funk, J. Verdin, and G. Eilerts (2008). Ensuring Food Security (in Letters) Science, 320(5876), 611-612

Brown, M.E., and C.C. Funk (2008). Food Security under Climate Change Science, 319(5863), 580-581

Brown, M.E., and K. de Beurs (2008). Evaluation of Multi-Sensor Semi-Arid Crop Season Parameters Based on NDVI and Rainfall Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(5), 2261-2271

Brown, M.E., J.E. Pinzon, and S.D. Prince (2008). Using Satellite Remote Sensing Data in a Spatially Explicit Price Model Land Economics, 84(2), 342–359

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., J.E. Pinzon, and S.D. Prince (2006). The Sensitivity of Millet Prices to Vegetation Dynamics in the Informal Markets of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Climatic Change, 78, 181-202

Funk, C.C., and M.E. Brown (2006). Intra-seasonal NDVI change projections in semi-arid Africa Remote Sensing of Environment, 101, 249-256

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

Brown, M.E., J.E. Pinzon, and C.J. Tucker (2004). New Vegetation Index Dataset Available to Monitor Global Change. In EOS. (565-569). Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.

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.