John R. Christy, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor,
Director of ESSC,
Atmospheric and Earth Science


320 Sparkman Drive
Cramer Research Hall
Room 4040
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



Dr. John R. Christy is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville where he began studying global climate issues in 1987. Since November 2000 he has been Alabama's State Climatologist. In 1989 Dr. Roy W. Spencer (then a NASA/Marshall scientist and now a Principal Research Scientist at UAH) and Christy developed a global temperature data set from microwave data observed from satellites beginning in 1979. For this achievement, the Spencer-Christy team was awarded NASA's Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1991. In 1996, they were selected to receive a Special Award by the American Meteorological Society "for developing a global, precise record of earth's temperature from operational polar-orbiting satellites, fundamentally advancing our ability to monitor climate." In January 2002 Christy was inducted as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Dr. Christy has served as a Contributor (1992, 1994, 1996 and 2007) and Lead Author (2001) for the U.N. reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in which the satellite temperatures were included as a high-quality data set for studying global climate change. He has served on five National Research Council panels or committees and has performed research funded by NASA, NOAA, DOE, DOT and the State of Alabama and has published many articles including studies appearing in Science, Nature, Journal of Climate and The Journal of Geophysical Research. Dr. Christy has provided testimony to several congressional committees.

Dr. Christy received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois (1984, 1987). Prior to this career path he had graduated from the California State University in Fresno (B.A. Mathematics, 1973, Distinguished Alumnus 2007) and taught Physics and Chemistry as a missionary teacher in Nyeri, Kenya for two years. After earning a Master of Divinity degree from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary (1978) he served four years as a bivocational mission-pastor in Vermillion, South Dakota where he also taught college math. He was featured in the February 2001 issue of Discover magazine and in a National Public Radio profile in 2004 in which his diverse background was highlighted.

Dr. Christy has been active in local educational groups. At Grissom High School he served as chairman of the Facilities committee, helping to secure the new Science wing and Gymnasium and was President of its PTSA, Alabama's largest, in 1997-98. He also served on the Huntsville City Schools Strategic Planning Committee and its Finance sub-panel. He is a member of the Huntsville City Surface Water Management Committee.

Dr. Christy was married to the former Babs Joslin for almost 39 years until her death in 2014 of cancer. She was a fellow missionary whom he met in Kenya. Their two married children are, Mrs. Alison Fields, an Applied Math graduate of Auburn University and Brian, a Physics/Math graduate of Auburn and PhD graduate from University of Maryland. He is now a Post-Doc Physicist at Franklin and Marshall University. Garet and Alison Fields are parents of three of their grandchildren and Brian and Kristen Christy of two more. Recently, Dr. Christy and Sherry Upshaw, Associate Minister of Music and Organist at First Baptist Church Huntsville, were joined in marriage. Dr. Christy's favorite hobby is gold panning which he developed as a teenager in California, and he also runs, completing races from 2 to 31.1 miles over rugged terrain.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, 1987
  • M.S., Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, 1984
  • Graduate Research Assistant University of Illinois (summer 1985 at NCAR)
  • M.Div., Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1978
  • B.A., Mathematics, California State University, Fresno, 1973

Honors & Awards

  • 2012 Faculty Award for Excellence, College of Science
  • 2012 Faculty Award for Research Excellence, University-wide
  • 2011 Quest for Excellence, SciQuest
  • 2008 Distinguished Professor, University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • 2007 Distinguished Alumnus, Calif. St. Univ., Fresn
  • Climate Model Energy Analysis (P.I.) DOE 2014-2017 $500k
  • Risk Reduction in Agriculture of the Southeast (P.I.) USDA 2011-13 $100k
  • Climate Model Evaluation (P.I.) DOE 2009-2013 $1,800k
  • Risk Reduction in Agriculture of the Southeast (P.I.) USDA 2009-10 $190k
  • Climate Research Program (P.I.) NOAA 2006-9 $1,000k


  • Global Climate Change
  • Satellite Sensing of Global Climate
  • Paleoclimate

Recent Publications

  • Christy, J.R., S. Po-Chedley, C. Mears and L. Haimberger: 2019: Lower tropospheric temperature [Global climate; Temperature; Lower Tropospheric Temperature [in "State of the Climate in 2018"], Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 100, (8), S16-S17. DOI:1-.1175/2019BAMSStateoftheClimate.I.

  • Christy, J.R., C. Covey and W. Randel: 2019: Lower stratospheric temperature [Global climate; Temperature; Lower Stratospheric Temperature [in "State of the Climate in 2018"], Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 100, (8), S17-S19. DOI:1-.1175/2019BAMSStateoftheClimate.I

  • Christy, J.R., 2019: Examination of extreme rainfall events in two regions of the United States since the 19th century. AIMS Environ. Sci., in press.

  • Maycock, A.C., W.J. Randall, A.K. Steiner, A.Y. Karpechko, J.R. Christy, R. Saunders, D.W.J. Thompson, C-Z Zou, A. Chrysanthou, N.L. Abraham, et al., 2018, Revisiting the mystery of recent stratospheric temperature trends. Geophys. Res. Lett. DOI:10.1029/2018GL078935.

  • Christy, J.R., S. Po-Chedley and C. Mears: 2018, Lower tropospheric temperature [Global climate; Temperature; Lower Tropospheric Temperature [in "State of the Climate in 2017"],Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 99, (8), S16-S17. DOI:1-.1175/2018BAMSStateoftheClimate.I.

  • Christy, J.R. and C. Covey: 2018, Lower stratospheric temperature [Global climate; Temperature; Lower Stratospheric Temperature [in "State of the Climate in 2017"], Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 99, (8), S17-S19. DOI:1-.1175/2018BAMSStateoftheClimate.I.

  • McKitrick, R. and J.R. Christy, 2018: A test of the tropical 200-300 hPa warming rate in climate models. Earth and Space Science, American Geophys. Un. DOI:10.1029/2018EA000401

  • Christy, J.R., R.W. Spencer, W.D. Braswell and R. Junod, 2018: Examination of space-based bulk atmospheric temperatures for climate research. Int. J. Remote Sens., 39:11, 3580-3607, DOI:10.1080/01431161.2018.1444293

  • Chylek, P., P. Tans, J. Christy, and M. Duybey, 2018: Two El Nino Types: An Observational Study. Env. Res. Lett., DOI/10.1088/1748-9326/aa9c5b

  • Christy, J.R. and R.T. McNider, 2017: Satellite bulk tropospheric temperatures as a metric for climate sensitivity. A-P J. Atmos. Sci., 53(4), 1-8, DOI:10.1007/s13143-017-0070-z.