Sundar A. Christopher, Ph.D.

Professor and King-McDonald Eminent Scholars Chair, Atmospheric and Earth Science


320 Sparkman Drive
Cramer Research Hall
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



Dr. Christopher received his PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from Colorado State University. He also holds a Master's degree in Meteorology from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) and a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

He is currently Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Earth Science and Director of the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Dr. Christopher has served in numerous leadership positions including Associate Director of the Earth System Science Center, Chairman of the Atmospheric Science Department, and Dean of the College of Science. He successfully designed a Master's level graduate program in Earth System Science that educates and trains graduate students in new paradigms involving research to decision making.

Dr. Christopher's research interests include satellite remote sensing of clouds and aerosols and their impact on air quality, environment, health, and global and regional climate. He has published more than 100 peer reviewed papers in national and international journals and has served on numerous national and international committees and science teams.

Dr. Christopher enjoys teaching and has designed and developed undergraduate and graduate level courses with special emphasis on hands-on training using satellite data. In 2011 AGU (Wiley Press) published his book titled Navigating Graduate School and Beyond: A Career Guide for Graduate Students and a Must Read for every Advisor. In 2019 AMS (Chicago Press) published his book titled Navigating Tenure and Beyond: A Guide for Early Career Faculty.

He has won several million dollars from numerous grants and contracts from NASA, NOAA, and other federal agencies for studying earth-atmosphere processes. He has won several awards including the University Award for Research and Creative Achievement in 2006 and NASA New Investigator Award.

He is a citizen of the United States of America.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Website


  • Ph. D. (Atmospheric Science), Colorado State University, 1995
  • M.A. (Industrial/Organizational Psychology), University of Alabama in Huntsville, 2002
  • M.S. (Meteorology), South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 1989
  • B.E. (Mechanical Engineering), PSG College of Technology-Madras University, India, 1985


  • American Meteorological Society
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Geophysical Union


  • Satellite Remote Sensing
  • Biomass burning
  • Aerosols
  • Air Quality
  • Aerosol Climate Forcing
  • Earth Radiation Budget
  • Cloud Property Retrievals
  • Employee Motivation
  • Job Satisfaction

Recent Publications

  • Pullman, M., M. Maskey, R. Ramachandran, S.A. Christopher, I. Gurung, 2019: Applying Deep Learning to Hail Detection: A Case Study, IEEE Trans. on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 10, 57(12), 10218-10225

  • Kaulfus, A. S., U. Nair, D. A. Jaffe, S. Christopher, and S. Goodrick, 2017: Biomass burning smoke climatology of the United States: Implications for particulate matter air quality. Environ. Sci. Technol., doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b03292

  • Contreras,A., J. Zhang, J, Reid, and, S.A. Christopher, A Study of the Longer Term Variation of Aerosol Optical Thickness and Direct Shortwave Aerosol Radiative Effect Trends Using MODIS and CERES, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 13849–13868, 2017

  • Chang, I. & Christopher, S. A. (2017). The impact of seasonalities on direct radiative effects and radiative heating rates of absorbing aerosols above clouds. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 143(704), 1395–1405.

  • Chang, Y.Y., and S.A. Christopher, Identifying Aerosols above Clouds using the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 54(6), 3163-3173, 2016

  • Feng, N., and S. A. Christopher (2015), Measurement-based estimates of direct radiative effects of absorbing aerosols above clouds, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 120, doi:10.1002/2015JD023252

  • Christopher, S. A. (2014), Simulation of GOES-R ABI aerosol radiances using WRF-CMAQ: a case study approach, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, 13, 18713-18748, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-18713-2014.

  • Naeger, A. R. and S. A. Christopher(2014), The identification and tracking of volcanic ash using the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infra-Red Imager (SEVIRI), Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions, 6, 5577-5619.

  • Patadia, F., and S.A. Christopher (2014), Assessment of Smoke Shortwave Radiative Forcing using Empirical Angular Distribution Models, Remote Sensing of Environment,140, 233-240.

  • Naeger, A. R., S. A. Christopher, R. Ferrare, and Z. Liu (2013), A new technique using infrared satellite measurements to improve the accuracy of the CALIPSO cloud-aerosol discrimination method, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 51(1), 642-653.