Jianyu “Kevin” Zheng successfully defended his PhD. on 11/10/2023. Congratulations to Dr. Zheng

Dr. Zhibo Zhang has received the CNMS Mid-Career Faculty Excellence Award for 2023. This CNMS College-level award recognizes excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service/leadership by a tenured faculty member who is at least 3 years past his/her first promotion to a tenured position.  The intent of this award is to recognize the accomplishments of faculty holding the rank of associate professor and anyone within 2 years of having achieved the rank of full professor. This award carries a one-time allocation of $2,000 in support of faculty development.


Natural dust particles and human-produced pollutants in the atmosphere affect Earth’s overall energy budget in different and nuanced ways. A new three-year, $620,000 NSF grant led by Zhibo Zhang, professor of physics and lead of the ACROS group (, will study how dust, pollutants, and water vapor in the atmosphere interact, to increase understanding of their overall effects on the global climate.  Dr. Zhang’s group has a new graduate student opening to work on this project. (

Please see the UMBC news release for more details.

Jianyu (“Kevin”) Zheng and Qianqian Song are both selected for the Student Presentation Competition Award by the American Meteorology Society (AMS). Congratulations to Kevin and Qianqian!

Global dust AOD climatology data is available here.


09/01/2021: Welcome Hannah and Roshan to join ACROS

06/01/2021: Zhibo Zhang promoted to Full Professor

Achala and Kevin successfully defended their PhD. thesis proposals and advanced to PhD. Candidates. Congratulations!

Recently, our ACROS group and his collaborators in the Department of Information Systems and NASA Goddard Space Flight center won a $1.4M interdisciplinary research project from NASA.

Please see the UMBC news release for more details.

Prof. Zhibo Zhang was recently appointed to the Editorial Board of a high-impact journal—Remote Sensing of Environment.

Remote Sensing of Environment   is a highly-selective journal that serves the Earth observation community with the publication of results on the theory, science, applications, and technology of remote sensing studies. Its impact factor was 9.085 in 2019.

This fall Dr. Chamara Raja will start his postdoc career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Olivia Norman will go to MIT to pursue her graduate study. Good luck, Chamara and Olivia. Two new members,  Achala Denagamage and  Adeleke Ademakinwa will join our ACROS group. Welcome, Achala and Adeleke!

Jianyu (“Kevin”) Zheng, a 2nd year graduate student of ACROS group is selected for the Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The OSPA is a very previous,  only granted to 5% of student participants of the annual fall meeting of AGU. Congratulations!

Jianyu (Kevin) Zheng (Ph.D. Student since 2018)

“Recently, both the Department of Energy (DoE) and NASA awarded Zhibo Zhang, associate professor of physics, significant grants to pursue projects in atmospheric science.

Zhang’s lab has established itself as a powerhouse at UMBC since his arrival in 2011. The lab published groundbreaking findings such as the discovery that dust from the Sahara Desert provides critical nutrients to the Amazon Rainforest in Geophysical Research Letters, and the surprising result that smoke from African wildfires may have a cooling effect on climate by reflecting sunlight back into space in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

See the full story

“UMBC’s Qianqian Song has just received the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) Fellowship⁠—one of just 59 such fellowships granted nationwide this year. The award provides $45,000 per year for three years for her to continue her studies at UMBC with Zhibo Zhang, associate professor of physics.”

See the full story

Clear-sky contamination, where a pixel is only partially cloudy, is a challenging and long-standing issue when estimating cloud properties from satellite observations. Werner et al. [2018] demonstrate that if a pixel includes contributions from a darker surface the clouds appear thinner, while seemingly containing fewer and larger water droplets. However, many satellite instruments include a single channel with a higher horizontal resolution. The authors show that these observations can be used to estimate the different contributions from both the cloud and the surface within a pixel. As a result, only the cloudy part of a pixel is used to derive cloud properties. The techniques introduced in this study are validated for different satellite sensors, cloud types and observational conditions. These findings address common concerns about the quality of satellite observations over complex cloud fields and will greatly increase the reliability of the estimated cloud properties.

Citation: Werner, F., Zhang, Z., Wind, G., Miller, D. J., Platnick, S., & Di Girolamo, L. [2018]. Improving cloud optical property retrievals for partly cloudy pixels using coincident higher‐resolution single band measurements: A feasibility study using ASTER observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 123.

—Zhanqing Li, Editor, JGR: Atmospheres

04/15/2019: Out proposal to study the dust aerosols using CALIPSO has been selected for funding by NASA!

Our ARCOS team has won a major research grant from NASA to study dust aerosols from space. We will use observations from satellite instruments, including a space-borne lidar, to investigate whether dust aerosols are cooling or warming our planet. The ACROS team is now recruiting a talented graduate student with numerical modeling skills to work on this project

12/05/2018: Our Recent JGR paper on the remote sensing of partly cloudy pixels is highlighted by AGU

05/04/2018: Qianqian Song passed her Preliminary Proposal Defense. Congratulations! Qianqian.
03/05/2018: Our PNAS paper on the interactions between smoke and clouds in the SE Atlantic region hit the news!
10/13/2017: Dan Miller defended his Ph.D. Dissertation! Congratulations Dan!
09/15/2017: We win NSF funding for multi-disciplinary training in “Atmospheric Physics+Big Data and HPC” see PR
05/26/2017: Daniel Miller is selected as fellow of the prestigious NASA Postdoc Program (NPP)!
04/21/2017: ACORS group attended the first UMBC Earth Day Science Symposium

04/19/2017: Zhibo gave a talk at the 3rd A-Train Symposium

01/27/2017: Our new paper on ARM-MODIS cloud comparison over Azores site accepted by JGR

01/23/2017: Zhibo gave a talk on above-cloud smoke at the 2017 Annual AMS meeting

12/15/2016: Dan, Frank and Zhibo attended the AGU fall meeting at San Francisco
06/23/2016 Our recent JGR paper has been selected for Editor highlighting!

Insights into Long-Standing Bias in Cloud Property Retrieval

04/20/2016 Zhibo Zhang won the International Radiation Commission Young Scientist Award! A prestigious award is usually given to a single young scientist in the field of Atmospheric Radiation every 4 years!

See Press Release below: