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Staff information

Marc Imhoff

Marc Imhoff

Joint Global Change Research Institute


Marc Imhoff began his career at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in 1980 as a Regional Applications Project Manager integrating remote sensing technology with the resource management activities of state governments. From 1983 to 1987, Imhoff moved to the Space Data and Computing Division and won a position on the science team of the Shuttle Imaging Radar-B (SIR-B) mission researching the use of vegetation penetration radar imaging systems to target malaria vector breeding habitats in the tropics. As a SIR-B science principal investigator Imhoff ran field campaigns in the Ganges - Brahmaputra Delta collecting data needed to develop radar-based methods for mapping flood boundaries, rice agriculture, and surface terrain elevations in flooded forests. During that time, Imhoff also worked on the Landsat-4 Data Quality Assessment Team and helped run a series of NASA/DoD technology transfer projects.

From 1987-1989, Imhoff served as an Instrument Manager with the Earth Observing System Project Office supporting the mission through its non-advocacy review. In 1990, Imhoff was awarded a Research and Study Fellowship to Stanford University. At Stanford, Imhoff developed methods for measuring forest structure and biomass using radar imaging and polarimetry for global carbon inventory, resource assessment, and terrain analysis. From the mid 1990's Dr. Imhoff continued to lead numerous research and development projects. He developed the first civilian long wavelength (VHF) radar sensor to penetrate vegetation and soils, and worked with both the Department of Energy and the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency on foliage penetration radar technology and applications. As an EOS Interdisciplinary Science Team Member Dr. Imhoff worked on the use of multisensor technology for the remote detection of human settlements and the impact of human driven land cover change on biological productivity and agriculture. Imhoff was co-creator of the nighttime ‘city lights' images of global urbanization from the DMSP/OLS sensor and developed one the first satellite-based indicators for assessing the strategic vulnerabilities of populations to climate change and food production. From 2001-2004 he served as the Earth System Science Pathfinder Program Project Scientist (ESSP) where he had an executive role in developing the solicitation, reviewing proposals, and recommending the selection of new missions.

From 2005 to September 2012 Dr. Imhoff was the Project Scientist for Terra - an active on-orbit satellite mission consisting of five instruments and science teams covering seven Earth system science research focus areas. Imhoff was chair of the mission science team and was responsible for justifying mission continuation and managing the annual budget required for flight operations and science team activities.

Dr. Imhoff is the Interim Director of PNNL's Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, MD.

Research Interests

  • Advancing state-of-the-art earth system modeling
  • Model integration and incorporation of satellite observations

Education and Credentials

  • B.S., Physical Geography, The Pennsylvania State University
  • M.S., Agronomy, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Stanford University

PNNL Publications


  • Bounoua L, K Kahime, L Houti, T Blakey, KL Ebi, P Zhang, ML Imhoff, K Thome, C Dudek, SA Sahabi, M Messouli, B Makhlouf, A EI Laamrani, and A Boumezzough. 2013. "Linking Climate to Incidence of Zoonotic Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (L. major) in Pre-Saharan North Africa." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10(8):3172-3191.  doi:10.3390/ijerph10083172

Selected Publications


  • Karnieli A, N Agam, RT Pinker, M Anderson, ML Imhoff, GG Gutman, N Panov and A Goldberg. 2010. "Use of NDVI and Land Surface Temperature for Drought Assessment: Merits and Limitations." Journal of Climate 23:618-633. DOI:10.1175/2009JCLI2900.1

  • Zhang P, ML Imhoff, RE Wolfe and L Bounoua. 2010. "Characterizing Urban Heat Island Effect at Global Settlements Using MODIS and Nightlight Products." Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 36(3):185-196. DOI:10.5589/m10-039

  • Imhoff ML, P Zhang, RE Wolfe and L Bounoua. 2010. "Remote Sensing of the Urban Heat Island Effect Across Biomes in the Continental USA." Remote Sensing of Environment 114(2010) 504-513. DOI:10.1016/j.rse.2009.10.008


  • Bergen KM, SJ Goetz, RO Dubayah, GM Henebry, CT Hunsaker, ML Imhoff, RF Nelson, GG Parker and VC Radeloff.  2009. "Remote Sensing of Vegetation 3-D Structure for Biodiversity and Habitat: Review and Implications for Lidar and Radar Spaceborne Missions." Journal of Geophysical Research 114. DOI:10.1029/2008JG000883

  • Imhoff ML, RE Wolfe, DJ Diner, M Chopping, R Kahn, V Salomonson, J Gille, J Drummond, D Edwards, N Loeb, B Wielicki, M Abrams, B Eng, S-C Tsay and KJ Ranson. 2009. "An Overview of Terra Mission Results Related to the Carbon Cycle." Geography Compass 3/2 (2009):536-559. DOI:10.1111/j.1749-8198.2008.00183.x


  • Bounoua L, A Safia, J Masek, C Peters-Lidard and ML Imhoff. 2008. "Impact of Urban Growth on Surface Climate:A Case Study in Oran, Algeria." Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology  48(2):217-231. DOI:10.1175/2008JAMC2044.1


  • Nelson R, P Hyde, P Johnson, B Emessiene, ML Imhoff, R Campbell and W Edwards. 2007. "Investigating RaDAR-LiDAR Synergy in a North Carolina Pine Forest." Remote Sensing of Environment  110(1):98-108. DOI :10.1016/j.rse.2007.02.006


  • Imhoff ML and L Bounoua. 2006. "Exploring Global Patterns of Net Primary Production Carbon Supply and Demand Using Satellite Observations and Statistical Data." Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 111(D22). DOI:10.1029/2006JD007377


  • Imhoff ML, L Bounoua , T Ricketts, C Loucks, R Harriss and WT Lawrence. 2004. "Global Patterns in Human Consumption of Net Primary Production." Nature 429(6994):870-873. DOI:10.1038/nature02619
  • Imhoff ML, L Bounoua, R DeFries, WT Lawrence, D Stutzer, CJ Tucker and T Ricketts. 2004. "The Consequences of Urban Land Transformation on Net Primary Productivity in the United States." Remote Sensing of Environment 89(4):434-443


  • Rosenqvist A, T Milne, R Lucas, ML Imhoff and C Dobson. 2003. "A Review of Remote Sensing Technology in Support of the Kyoto Protocol." Environmental Science and Policy 6(5):441-455. DOI:10.1016/S1462-9011(03)00070-4


  • Lawrence WT, ML Imhoff, N Kerle and D Stutzer. 2002. "Quantifying Urban Land Use and Impact on Soils in Egypt Using Diurnal Satellite Imagery of the Earth Surface." International Journal of Remote Sensing 23(19):3921-3937. DOI:10.1080/01431160110115951


  • Nizeyimana EL, GW Petersen, ML Imhoff, HR Sinclair, SW Waltman, DS Reed-Margetan, ER Levine and JM Russo. 2001. "Assessing the Impact of Land Conversion to Urban Use on Soils with Different Productivity Levels in the USA." Soil Science Society of America Journal 65(2):391-402. DOI:10.2136/sssaj2001.652391x

  • Elvidge CD, ML Imhoff, KE Baugh, VR Hobson, I Nelson, J Safran, JB Dietz and BT Tuttle. 2001. "Night-time Lights of the World: 1994-1995." INSPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 56(2):81-99. DOI:10.1016/S0924-2716(01)00040-5
  • Hansen J, R Ruedy, M Sato, ML Imhoff, W Lawrence, D Easterling, T Peterson and T Karl. 2001. "A Closer Look at United States and Global Surface Temperature Change." Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 106(D20):23947-23963. DOI:10.1029/2001JD000354
  • Imhoff ML, WT Lawrence, CJ Tucker CJ and D Stutzer. 2001. "A Satellite Survey of the Impact of Urban Sprawl on Agriculture and Primary Productivity in the United States: Is Our Style of Development Sustainable?" Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 66:392-404


  • Imhoff ML, Tucker CJ, Lawrence WT, et al. 2000. "The Use of Multisource Satellite and Geospatial Data to Study the Effect of Urbanization on Primary Productivity in the United States." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 38(6):2549-2556. DOI:10.1109/36.885202


  • Imhoff ML, S Carson and P Johnson. 1998. "A Low-Frequency Radar Experiment for Measuring Vegetation Biomass." IEEE transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 36(6):1988-1991. DOI:10.1109/36.729374


  • Imhoff ML, TD Sisk, A Milne, G Morgan and T Orr. 1997. "Remotely Sensed Indicators of Habitat Heterogeneity: Use of Synthetic Aperture Radar in Mapping Vegetation Structure and Bird Habitat."Remote Sensing of Environment 60(3):217-227. DOI:10.1016/S0034-4257(96)00116-2

  • Imhoff ML, WT Lawrence, CD Elvidge, T Paul, E Levine, MV Privalsky, V Brown. 1997. "Using Nighttime DMSP/OLS Images of City Lights to Estimate the Impact of Urban Land Use on Soil Resources in the United States." Remote Sensing of Environment 59(1):105-117. DOI:10.1016/S0034-4257(96)00110-1
  • Imhoff ML, WT Lawrence, DC Stutzer, CD Elvidge. 1997. "A Technique for Using Composite DMSP/OLS ‘City Lights' Satellite Data to Map Urban Area." Remote Sensing of Environment 61(3):361-370. DOI:10.1016/S0034-4257(97)00046-1


  • Imhoff ML. 1995. "A Theoretical Analysis of the Affect Forest Structure on Synthetic Aperture Radar Backscatter and the Remote Sensing of Biomass." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 33(2):341-352. DOI:10.1109/36.377934
  • Imhoff ML. 1995. "Radar Backscatter and Biomass Saturation:Ramifications for Global Biomass Inventory." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 33(2):510-518. DOI:10.1109/36.377953


  • Imhoff ML, C Vermillion, MH Story, AM Choudhury, A Gafoor and F Polcyn. 1987. "Monsoon Flood Boundary Delineation and Damage Assessment Using Space Borne Imaging Radar and Landsat Data." Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 53(4):405-413

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