The NASA Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) is a year-long STEM engagement opportunity for educators and graduate students to work directly with NASA scientists and lead research teams in a NASA research project hosted at either the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, NY; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD; or NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. (The program is currently taking place virtually). During the fall and spring terms of CCRI, the research team consists of NASA Principal Investigators who lead high school educators and graduate student research assistants to become immersed in a NASA science research area related to climate change. During the summer session, the primary research team adds an undergraduate intern and a high school intern to the CCRI research team. The entire team works collaboratively on a full-time basis to complete the research project, deliver a presentation, write a scientific paper, and create a scientific poster that is presented at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and other regional science conferences and symposiums

The application deadline for students is March 4.

To apply, please visit the following website: NASA Intern, click on Interns > Apply Now and create a student profile on NASA STEM Gateway.

The CCRI project descriptions are below:

The Expanding Legacy of Landsat – Documenting Environmental Change Beyond Five Decades

Duty Location: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Project Description: The joint NASA USGS Landsat mission will turn 50 years old in July 2022. The imagery acquired by the satellite sensors from this long-term mission provide a wealth of data for understanding the Earth’s land surface and near-shore waters nearly from pole to pole. With the launch of the latest Landsat 9 scheduled for late September 2021 from near where the first satellite in the series was launched from in 1972, further insights on environmental change can be assessed across space and time. Searching for powerful stories of change is the overall goal of this project including how to visualize and document such changes to ensure that the visionary thinking of the original program can be celebrated in its 50th year.

Depending on the interests of the applicant, projects can be pursued over forests, fields, aquatic, urban, and cryospheric areas. The goal will be to create visual and quantitative change assessments that can be used in educational, research, and outreach settings. Enabling people from around the globe to ‘see and understand’ changes that are happening as our climate warms and ecosystems respond, will be an appropriate tribute to the continuing, long-term goals of the Landsat program.

Connecting the Local Urban Fabric to Global Climate Change

Duty location: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Project Description: Urban areas are principal agents of change across our home planet. In an increasingly urbanizing biosphere, scientific understanding, and societal adaptation each require tools to accurately measure and monitor the dynamics and environmental consequences of the urban ecosystem. With over half of the world’s population living in urban areas today—projected to grow to 68% by 2050—these tools, data, and scientific understanding will make significant contributions to national and international policies to ensure the sustainability of cities and settlements in the face of a changing climate. While urban areas still represent today a small proportion of Earth’s land surface, urbanization can have significant impacts on hydrological cycles and microclimates of local and surrounding areas up to regional and even continental scales.

New, more detailed, and more accurate remotely sensed data on urban areas and associated built-up surfaces can provide a foundation for a better understanding of the impacts of cities on their environment and potential improvements in the modeling of the impacts of urbanization on the energy/water/carbon cycles. The unprecedented level of spatial detail in these new data sets allows for a much improved and accurate characterization of the urban fabric (e.g., roads, buildings, open space), and their change, at a spatial scale that is directly relevant to cities and settlements and their inhabitants. This project will leverage existing and future NASA remote sensing assets to study in detail the direct connections between changes in the urban fabric and environmental changes in the Baltimore/Washington DC study area and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The aim is to develop, test and assess data and methodologies regionally but with potential applicability to other areas of the world. Successful applicants will work closely with the mentor and associated scientists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to perform work in the following suggested areas:

  • Assess quality and accuracy of the harmonized Landsat and Sentinel 2 data set for urban change monitoring in the Baltimore/Washington DC area (see
  • Develop methods and assess useability of NASA Lidar remote sensing (e.g., satellite/airborne) for urban vertical structure.
  • Assess useability of Landsat and ECOSTRESS satellite data for monitoring the urban heat island effect.
  • Use Very High-Resolution commercial satellite archive at NASA for urban change detection and vertical change.
  • Perform field studies using field measurements and the GLOBE Observer mobile phone app (see to assess accuracy of data sets above. This work will involve local schools and high school students.
  • Develop maps or other cartographic products using NASA satellite data over the Baltimore/Washington DC region.
  • Work with local stakeholders to communicate science and to build capacity to use new data sets for local/regional applications.
  • Communicate findings with science community via presentations and written work.
  • Participate in NASA research proposals and publications as appropriate. 

Characterizing the Urban Land Surface Temperature via an Innovative, Multi-Platformed Suite of Satellite and Ground-Remote Sensing Technologies

Duty Location: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; CUNY-City College of Technology

Project Description: In light of climate change, urban micro-climates, the urban heat island effect and other urban geophysical phenomena and processes, there is a new urgency to better study, understand, and characterize urban environments. Revolutionary and innovative ideas are being considered to transform the study of the urban landscape. Fundamental changes are taking place in geophysics and in engineering to aid in the adaptation and mitigation of the environmental challenges to which cities must respond.

For this project, students will perform a local, intensive, and comprehensive surface energy balance data collection and processing initiative that will help to characterize the urban heat island, the heat index, and more particularly the land surface temperature over various local community built and natural environments. The project aims to produce high temporal and spatial resolution land surface temperatures for the local community and for New York City using the combination of satellite remote sensing observations and ground-based measurements. Students will obtain remote sensing data from multiple polar orbiting and geostationary satellites. Additionally, students will use infrared cameras and flux tower instruments to understand how urban surfaces react to solar radiation and its consequent heat. Students will be able to monitor the incoming and outgoing radiation and heat energy components using the cameras. The differences between traditional rooftop materials and new green or white roofs will be explored. Moreover, handheld temperature measuring devices, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and observations from satellite infrared observations will be collected. Using statistical approaches and data processing, the gaps in temporal and spatial coverage appropriate for the development of a heat index (effect of air temperature + humidity) will be filled. The volume of data used in this project is expected to in the range on 5TB. The added value of this initiative is that cross-pollination between students and the local community and the transfer of knowledge between the two groups will be created and sustained long after the project ends.

Project Activities Include:

  • Monitoring thermal characteristics of urban surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, rooftop, and vegetated surfaces at different seasons and times of the day by collecting data
  • Coordinating with community partners to receive skin temperature measurements from various surfaces in the local community.
  • Obtaining and analyzing satellite land surface temperature observations from geostationary and polar orbit satellites such as from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOESR), Landsat, Ecostress, Sentinel 2A, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), etc.
  • Analyzing the collected data to define and to develop a high spatial resolution (10 m) and high temporal resolution (every 5 min) skin temperature over the local community and over New York City using several statistical approaches by fusing satellite based and ground observations.
  • Developing an online interactive server platform to disseminate the data to the local community and to scientists. Data visualization and queries will be among important features of the proposed platform.
  • Working closely with the local community on the use of the collected data to interpret and predict the strength and extent of heat wave events.

Climate Change in the Hudson Estuary – Past, Present & Future

Duty Location: Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory; NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Project Description: The Hudson Estuary is comprised of key tidal marshes, which serve to provide many ecosystem services to the large population of this important coastal region, including NYC. These services include fish nurseries, coastal protection, water purification, paleoclimatic archives, and carbon sequestration repositories. We seek to understand the records of past droughts, cold intervals, floods, and vegetation shifts along with the past shifts in carbon storage. From this information, we can better understand our present snapshot of climate/carbon and predict future accumulation rates as climate warms and sea level rises.

Earth Observation Applications for Resiliency – Assessing Climate Change Impacts in Urban, Agricultural, and Natural Environments

Duty Location: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Project Description: The history of Earth observation began in the 1840s, during the era of geographical exploration, when pictures were taken from cameras secured to the tethered balloons for the purpose of topographic mapping. It took another 100 years for earth observations to evolve to a platform based in space called satellites. Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information without physically being in contact with it. This process involves detection and measurement of radiation at different wavelengths reflected or emitted from distant objects or materials, by which they may be identified and categorized.

Through various remote sensing platforms such as satellites and aircraft, supplemented by surface and subsurface measurements as well as modeling and mapping, practical information about Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems can be obtained. We seek to help urban stakeholders, agricultural leaders, and conservationists respond to the challenges presented by a changing climate by transforming a wealth of NASA Earth observation data (E.g., Landsat, MODIS) into actionable information.

Atmospheric Rivers in a Changing Climate

Duty Location: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Project Description: Atmospheric River events cause dramatic flooding along the western coast of the USA and populate our news headlines. These phenomena occur globally and are responsible for ~80-90% of meridional moisture fluxes in the mid-latitudes and 30-40% of meridional moisture fluxes in the Arctic. In the Arctic, moisture fluxes associated with ARs have been proposed as a means for polar amplification through latent heat fluxes as well as downwelling thermal radiation. For this project, students will use simulations from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE, version 2.1 (GISS-E2.1, CMIP6) enabled with suite of tracers to diagnose the moisture source for Atmospheric River events to contrast with climatological moisture sources and amounts. Simulations will be evaluated for skill in the modern/historic period. Further simulations and analysis will then be performed with an augmented suite of simulations of both past and future climate to determine the impact of climate change on AR events. 

For other internship projects at GISS, please visit NASA Intern.

The eligibility requirements for all internship projects are as follows:

  • U.S. Citizen
  • Cumulative 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Students (high school through graduate) in degree-seeking programs or within 6 months post-graduation
  • 16 years of age at the time of application (no exceptions)

All internships have a stipend.

Program Dates:

High School

July 5 – Aug 12


June 6 – Aug 12 (Non-CCRI projects)

June 20 – Aug 12 (CCRI projects)