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NCEI and NASA DEVELOP Mark Five-Year Anniversary

Picture of NASA DEVELOP Young Scientists
Courtesy of Deb Misch, NOAA NCEI

This spring, NASA DEVELOP celebrates its fifth anniversary working with NCEI. Part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, DEVELOP is a ten-week program geared toward up-and-coming scientists—both in college and at the start of their career. Program participants work with NASA and NCEI scientists on projects that address environmental and public policy issues affecting communities worldwide.

The NASA DEVELOP collaboration with NCEI provides participants access to both NASA’s Earth Observations and NCEI’s weather and climate data—the world’s largest archive of this type.


Since 2014, 56 young scientists have participated in this collaboration between NCEI and NASA DEVELOP. Together, they have completed 23 projects spanning 42 states, 15 countries, and six U.S. territories and affiliated nations. Through the years, NASA DEVELOP projects have focused on Climate, Water Resources, Agriculture & Food Security, Energy, Health & Air Quality, Disasters, and Ecological Forecasting.  

Recent projects have included:

This work has given participants the opportunity to engage in real-world research and hone their ability to communicate their work to diverse audiences.

Putting NCEI Data to Work

NCEI’s data archives hold a treasure trove of climate, weather, geophysical, and oceanographic information. As the world’s chief data archive for environmental information, NCEI continually looks for new ways to capitalize on the value of the data, showcase the archive, and expand its uses.

Aware of the NASA DEVELOP program, NCEI recognized the value in inviting some of the participants to perform their research at NCEI. Working directly at NCEI would give the young scientists easy access to our data and our own respected researchers. The outcomes of the projects would provide another avenue for NCEI to apply data to real-world issues as well as demonstrate the benefits of the data archive. Because of the obvious benefits to both organizations, NCEI reached out to NASA DEVELOP and, in 2014, a collaborative partnership was born.

Much of the NCEI data used by NASA DEVELOP participants comes from NCEI Climate Data Records (CDR) Program, such as AVHRR-LAI and FAPAR, AVHRR - NDVI, Snow Cover Extent, and AVHRR Aerosol Optical Thickness.

NASA DEVELOP participants are able to put these data to practical use while working on their projects, and the results have benefitted many partners, such as water resource planners, agriculture producers, and emergency management personnel.  For example, NASA DEVELOP projects in 2018 resulted in the production of one forecast atlas, two data user guides, and two fire risk tools, all of which have immediate, real-world applications.

NASA DEVELOP Fosters Tomorrow’s Scientists

Five years of collaboration between NASA DEVELOP and NCEI have assisted a number of young scientists in determining career paths and goals. After honing their research and communication skills in the NASA DEVELOP program, alumni have moved on to work for the government or private sector, specializing in areas such as atmospheric science, geographic information systems, physical science, and engineering. We are proud of all the participants in the program and look forward to continuing our collaboration with NASA DEVELOP.