Ping Yang

Ping Yang

University Distinguished Professor and David Bullock Harris Chair in Geosciences

Associate Dean for Research

Atmospheric radiative transfer, remote sensing, numerical modeling of the optical properties of nonspherical particles and its applications

  (979) 845-3651

  Eller O&M 202


Prof. Yang and his group are interested in the following research areas: 1) remote sensing of cloud and aerosol radiative and microphysical properties from satellite observations; 2) assessments of cloud and aerosol radiative forcing effects based on modeling capabilities and measurements; 3) scalar and polarized modeling capabilities for radiant energy transfer in the atmosphere-land-ocean coupled system; 4) theory and numerical capabilities for computing the optical properties of nonspherical and inhomogeneous particles and relevant applications to the studies of ice clouds, dust aerosol, and oceanic particles; 5) surface snow; and 6) applications of light scattering and radiative transfer capabilities to astrophysical problems such as interstellar dust.

Prof. Yang’s research group has been using the observations made by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), the Polarization and Directionality of the Earth’s Reflectances (POLDER), and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) instruments for various problems involved in atmospheric and oceanic remote sensing.

Because understanding of the radiative budget of the Earth-Atmosphere system must begin with the fundamental scattering and absorption properties of cloud and aerosol particles, the group makes significant efforts to simulate the optical properties of various nonspherical aerosol particles and ice crystals within cirrus clouds. The group has developed state-of-the-science light scattering computational capabilities summarized in an invited paper by Yang et al., 2019: On the convergence of numerical computations for both exact and approximate solutions for electromagnetic scattering by nonspherical dielectric particles, Progress In Electromagnetics Research, 164, 27-61. In addition, the group has developed databases (in particular, TAMUice2013, TAMUice2016, a tri-axial ellipsoidal mineral dust optical property database, and TAMUdust2020) of the optical properties of ice crystals and dust particles, which are extensively used by many other researchers worldwide. In particular, the MODIS, CERES, AIRS, and IIR (Imaging Infrared Radiometer) operational ice cloud retrieval products use the single-scattering properties of ice crystals developed by Prof. Yang’s group.

To implement advanced remote sensing techniques, fast radiative transfer models are often required. A substantial portion of the group's research effort is concentrated on developing fast models for the transfer of solar and infrared radiation under cloudy and aerosol-dusty conditions for passive remote sensing applications and an efficient Monte Carlo radiative transfer model for active remote sensing applications. In addition, the group has been working on vector radiative transfer to explore the application of polarization properties for atmospheric and oceanic remote sensing.

Recently, Prof. Yang’s group is interested in improving broadband radiative transfer submodels involved in climate models. For example, we found that the global average longwave scattering effect of clouds is comparable to the direct radiative effect due to doubling CO2. The group has also improved the ocean surface albedo model. Furthermore, the group has been studying 3-D radiative transfer.

Selected Publications

As of March 30, 2022, Prof. Ping Yang has published 350 refereed journal papers, 11 book chapters, and 4 books. Prof. Yang's publications have been cited 14,290 times (Web of Science)/21,716 (Google Scholar) with an h-index of 59 (Web of Science)/76 (Google Scholar).

Selected publications:


Ph.D., University of Utah


Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Texas Scientist (2022), Texas Academy of Science: Each year, the Board of Directors of the Texas Academy of Science honors one researcher in Texas as the Distinguished Texas Scientist.
  • Van de Hulst Light-Scattering Award (2022): this award, sponsored by Elsevier biennially, is the most prestigious award in the field of electromagnetic and light scattering by particles. The award selection was determined by an international committee composed of at least 20 leading experts in the field, as stated in the call for nominations.
  • University Distinguished Professor (elected 2020), Texas A&M University. In 2020 “Seven Texas A&M University scholars have earned the university’s highest faculty honor by being named Distinguished Professors. The 2020 class of University Distinguished Professors includes faculty from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Geosciences, the School of Law, and the College of Science.”
  • David and Lucille Atlas Remote Sensing Prize by AMS for “For sustained, seminal contributions to developing light-scattering and radiative transfer models and datasets for remote sensing of ice clouds and dust aerosols.”
  • Elected (2019) Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). According to AAAS, “In a tradition stretching back to 1874, these individuals (Fellows) are recognized for their extraordinary achievements across disciplines. Examples of areas in which nominees may have made significant contributions are research; teaching; technology; services to professional societies; administration in academe, industry, and government; and communicating and interpreting science to the public.”
  • Appointed (2018) one of the 16 members of the National Research Council-Space Studies Board's Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space (appointment term: October 2018- June 2021)
  • Elected (2018) Fellow of The American Physical Society (APS) “for sustained pioneering research in light scattering and radiative transfer with various applications, especially in remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere” (According to APS, The number of APS Fellows elected each year is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership.”)
  • Elected (2018) Fellow of The Electromagnetics Academy “in recognition of his distinguished contributions to computational optics and applications to atmospheric science and remote sensing” (the sole fellow inducted during the 2018 Progress In Electromagnetic Research Symposium (PIERS) in Toyama, Japan, 1-4 August 2018).
  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2017) (only six medals of this category were bestowed by NASA in 2017. According to NASA, this medal is “one of the Agency’s most prestigious honor awards for outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission.”)
  • University-level Distinguished Achievement Award in the category of Research (2017), The Association of Former Students (AFS) and Texas A&M University. (Six awards per year at TAMU. This award recognizes, encourages, and rewards individuals whose research efforts have been particularly significant and outstanding and are recognized locally, nationally, and internationally. The results of these research efforts have added substantially to the basic body of knowledge, contributed to the improvement of the quality of life, and/or encouraged additional research. The selection was made by a university-wide committee)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award (2017), Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah
  • Elected (2015) Fellow of American Geophysical Union (AGU) (With over 60,000 members from 148 countries, AGU represents the largest professional organization for Earth and space scientists. According to AGU, “To be elected a Fellow is a special tribute for those who have made exceptional scientific contributions. Nominated fellows must have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences. Primary criteria for evaluation in scientific eminence are major breakthrough/discovery and paradigm shift. This designation is conferred upon not more than 0.1% of all AGU members in any given year. New Fellows are chosen by a Committee of Fellows”)
  • Ascent Award (2013) by AGU (American Geophysical Union) Atmospheric Sciences Section (Five awards were given in 2013.Established in 2012, the Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award aims to reward exceptional mid-career (academic, government, and private sector) scientists in the fields of the atmospheric and climate sciences. “Mid-career” is defined here as between 8 and 20 years post-Ph.D or the scientist’s highest degree. The only criterion for the award is that the applicant demonstrates excellence in research and leadership in his or her field.”)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to ACCRI Aircraft Cloud Effects Team (8/30/2013)
  • Elected (2013) Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) (According to AMS, “Those eligible for election to Fellow shall have made outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years…New Fellows are elected each year by the Council at its fall meeting from a slate submitted by the Fellows Committee of not more than two-tenths of 1 percent of all AMS Members.”)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to CERES Clouds Team (8/30/2013)
  • Elected member of the International Radiation Commission (IRC), the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (IAMAS), for term 2012-2020
  • Elected (2010) Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) (According to OSA, “OSA Members who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics may be proposed for election to the class of Fellow…the number elected each year is limited to approximately 0.5% of the current membership total.”)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), March 2011.
  • Certificate of Appreciation, NASA, November 2010.
  • Holder of the David Bullock Harris Chair in Geosciences (1/1/2010-present), College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University
  • The Association of Former Students’ (AFS) College-level Teaching Award, Texas A&M University, 2008.
  • Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Research, College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University, 2004.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, 2003
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to CRYSTAL-FACE Science Team, 2003
  • Best Paper Award, Climate and Radiation Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 2000

Additional Information

  • Professor, September 2008–present,  Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University
  • Associate Professor, September 2005–August 2008,  Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University
  • Assistant Professor, September 2001–August 2005, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University
  • Associate Research Scientist, March 2001–September 2001, Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Research Scientist, January 1999–February 2001, Science and System Application, Inc., Lanham, Maryland (worked on-site in code 913, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland)
  • Assistant Research Scientist, December 1997–January 1999, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Research Associate, January 1996–November 1997, Department of Meteorology/Center for Atmospheric Remote Sensing Study, University of Utah


  • American Geophysical Union (fellow)
  • Optical Society of America (fellow)
  • American Meteorology Society (fellow)
  • American Physical Society (fellow)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (fellow)
  • The Electromagentics Academy (fellow)

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