Member Since 2004
Dalia Kirschbaum
Director of the Earth Sciences Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Honors and Awards

Union Fellow
Received December 2023
Joanne Simpson Medal
Received December 2023
Dalia began her research journey in the early 2000s when the possibility of having global and high-frequency observations of precipitation data was becoming very real with the planning of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission built on the success of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). There is a unique Joanne Simpson connection here with TRMM and GPM. In 1988, Dr. Simpson published with very clear foresight a paper titled “A Proposed Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Satellite.” According to Dr. Simpson, TRMM was very much needed for the scientific community “to determine the distribution and variability of precipitation and latent-heat release.” Fast-forward to 2014; Dalia went on to represent the GPM mission as deputy project scientist and served as a disaster response coordinator for NASA.

Dalia has led the development of a suite of innovative and societally critical products for landslide hazard assessment that require precipitation estimates as a key input. Dalia’s response to this global menace of landslides wasn’t just improving our scientific understanding of landslides; she actually went on to gift the world the Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness (LHASA) model as a tangible and publicly available solution for the most vulnerable regions.
Dalia has led international efforts to encourage sharing of remote sensing data and landslide inventories. This includes her contribution as a founding member of the LandAware international consortium on landslide early-warning systems (LEWS) and working as a co-chair of the LandAware LEWS Data Working Group. Dalia coordinated with other leading landslides researchers to lead the Landslide Pilot for the Committee on Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS) Disaster Working Group. From 2020 to 2022, she served as the president of AGU’s Natural Hazards section.
Dalia is also an outstanding communicator of science for outreach. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 (when COVID-19 was still raging), she unleashed a wide array of multimedia and communication products on GPM. Looking back, this is what I wrote to NASA upper management about Dalia’s impact:
“Challenges never stopped NASA from getting to the moon. Similarly, the pandemic hasn’t stopped Dalia’s team @ NASA from creating timely and user-ready educational content that will inspire a generation to solve more problems… I hope Dalia can keep doing what she is doing for eternity.”

On behalf of the nominating team (Christa Peters-Lidard, Marshall Shepherd, George Huffman and myself), congratulations, Dalia, on winning this richly deserved award!

— Faisal Hossain
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
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