Lidia Cucurull

Research Highlights

Research Interests

Satellite remote sensing.

Data assimilation.

Optimization of impact of observations.

Lidia Cucurull, Ph.D.

Supervisory Physical Scientist, Team Lead of OSA (Observing System Assessment), Hurricane Research Division


 DSRC Building
325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305

“Since very young, I wanted to be a scientist to find answers to all my ‘why’ questions.”

Dr. Lidia Cucurull received her PhD in Physics on the Use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals in Numerical Weather Prediction from the University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2001. Since then, she has worked at UCAR, NASA, and NOAA. She has won several national awards in recognition of her work, including the UCAR Outstanding Scientific and Technology Advancement Award (2007) and the NOAA David Johnson Award (2011), and she became a “Fellow” of the American Meteorological Society in 2016. She currently serves as the Deputy Director and Chief Scientist of NOAA’s Quantitative Observing System Assessment Program (QOSAP) and the Chief of the QOSAP/AOML-Observing Systems Analysis (OSA) Group. She leads the evaluation of research techniques, including developing algorithms for deriving atmospheric, oceanic and/or land measurements from in situ sensors, aircraft platforms, and satellite remote sensing. She provides scientific leadership to quantitatively evaluate the complementarity of different observing systems through Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) and Observing System Experiments (OSEs) to help NOAA management prioritize mission designs in a cost-effective way. Specifically, Lidia has planned and led numerous project management efforts, including developing/improving the assimilation of GNSS-RO observations in NOAA’s models and conducting observing systems sensitivity experiments with UAS, GNSS-RO, ground-based GNSS, GNSS-R, GEO-HSS, MW/IR instruments on a variety of platforms, 3D winds from space, and other weather satellite data. Lidia has published over forty-five scientific papers of original research in peer-reviewed journals, including data quality evaluation, observing system analysis and sensitivity experiments. Overall, Lidia has 25 years of experience working with data assimilation and GNSS, including both ground-based and space-based applications of the technique and she is the NOAA/OAR Principal Investigator for GNSS-Radio Occultation observations and leads the GNSS-RO data assimilation efforts at NOAA. Finally, she is a core member of the NESDIS Systems performance Assessment Team (SAT), member of the GEO-XO Requirements Working Group, an advisor of the NOAA Observing Systems Committee (OSC), an OAR representative of the NESDIS Space Weather FY23-28 SIP Working Group, and the NOAA Lead for Joint Studies of Observation Impacts for Applications of the NOAA-NASA Earth System Modeling Working Group.

Current Work

Supervisory Physical Scientist, Team Lead of OSA (Observing System Assessment), Hurricane Research Division

2001, Ph.D., Physics, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Barcelona, Spain

1995, M.S., Theoretical Physics, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona, Spain

1994, B.S., Physics, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona, Spain

  1. Apodoca, K., L. Cucurull, I. Genkova, R.J. Purser, and X. Su. Assessing the benefit of variational quality control for assimilating Aeolus Mie and Rayleigh wind profiles in NOAA’s Global Forecast System during tropical cyclones. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 149(756):2761-2783, 2023
    Ref. 4297
  2. Cucurull, L. Recent impact of COSMIC-2 with improved radio occultation data assimilation algorithms. Weather and Forecasting, 38(10):1829-1847, 2023
    Ref. 4246
  3. Cucurull, L., and J. Purser. An improved one-dimensional bending angle forward operator for the assimilation of radio occultation profiles in the lower troposphere. Monthly Weather Review, 151(5):1093-1108, 2023
    Ref. 4226

2022 U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal

For ensuring that NOAA’s next-generation geostationary satellite system will meet the most critical observing needs for our nation and partners. 

2018 NOAA OAR Award

For advancing NOAA’s Quantitative Observing System program by delivering actionable information about observing systems in support of the Weather Act.

2016 American Meteorological Society Fellow

2011 NOAA David Johnson Award

For innovative contributions to weather prediction through developing and implementing a methodology to assimilate satellite-based Global Positioning System-Radio Occultation observations into the National Weather Service’s operational global weather prediction model and demonstrating how these data improve the skill and extend the range of weather forecasts. 

2009 U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal

For transitioning the COSMIC ground system from research to operations, enabling a revolution in weather and climate measurements. 

2008 Key Contributor Medal from COSMIC Program

2007 UCAR Outstanding Scientific and Technology Advancement Award

November 2007 NOAA Team Member of the Month

In recognition for the work on COSMIC, on leading the effort at the JCSDA in conducting testing and exploitation of COSMIC data in the GFS system, following the launch of COSMIC in April 2006.