Dr. Penny Rowe

Research Scientist / Software Engineer


Image of plots from Cambio



Image of pyranometer at Escudero Station, Antarctica
Image of penguin
Image of snow sampling

Polar Research

Current research seeks to improve our understanding of the atmosphere over the Antarctic Peninsula and Southern Ocean, using measurements made at Escudero Station, as part of the Antarctic Research Group of the University of Santiago of Chile and the Year or Polar Prediction (YOPP) for the Southern Hemisphere. Working with colleagues, we are trying to understand interconnections between clouds and radiation and atmospheric rivers and foehn events.

Other recent work involves improving radiative transfer calculations of supercooled liquid cloud absorption and emission of infrared radiation. This improvement relies on incorporating the temperature dependence of the complex refractive indices of supercooled water.

Another line of research is retrieving cloud properties from infrared radiation. I have investigated algorithms (such as optimal estimation) for retrieving cloud properties, including instrumental considerations such as calibration and instrument responsivity, sources of error such as biases, noise and error in knowledge of the atmospheric state, and limited spectral resolution. Cloud property retrievals include optical depth, thermodynamic phase, effective radius and cloud base-height retrieval.

My graduate work involved infrared spectroscopy of water vapor, especially absorption between strong lines, or the water vapor continuum. This work was done as part of the South Pole Atmospheric Radiation and Cloud Lidar Experiment (SPARCLE), and also included retrievals of temperature and water vapor from downwelling infrared radiance spectra.


Polar Education Modules

Polar ENgagement through GUided INquiry (PENGUIN) is an NSF-funded project to develop modules that teach polar research through undergraduate students in a variety of courses. PENGUIN modules are available here:


Black carbon

Black carbon is an anthropogenic pollutant that decreases the albedo of ice and snow. In the Chilean Andes, black carbon on glaciers enhances the melt rate. Because glaciers are an important source of drinking water in Chile, glacier loss is a topic of major concern. I participated in field expeditions (led by Steven Neshyba, in collaboration with Steve Warren of the University of Washington and Raul Cordero of the University of Santiago of Chile) to sample black carbon on snow in the Chilean Andes in July 2015 and 2016. Our group at the University of Santiago of Chile continues to measure black carbon in the Chilean Andes, as well as in Antarctica.

During the summer of 2020, we expanded our black carbon measurements to include locations in Colorado and on Mt. Rainier, in Washington, as part of  a virtual summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Two students sampled snow, while two additional students measured the impurity concentrations using the Light Absorbing Measurement (LAM)  developed by Prof. Carl Schmitt.

Roughening on ice crystal surfaces

Advances in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) have made it possible to monitor the growth and ablation of ice crystals on the surfaces of ice crystals at resolutions not previously possible. In collaboration with Steven Neshyba, our work has revealed horizontal corrugations, or “trans-prismatic strands”, visible on SEM images of ice taken at the University of Puget Sound in collaboration with Steven Neshyba. We also examine consequences of the roughening for light-scattering properties affecting radiative flux and remote sensing.

Molecular dynamics at the ice-vapor interface

Other research includes studying surface roughness on ice crystals through SEM images and molecular dynamics, and using molecular dynamics to explore a possible role for RNA on ice in the origins of life on Earth.


Gorodetskaya et al., 2023, Compound drivers behind new record high temperatures and surface melt at the Antarctic Peninsula in February 2022 (reference number NPJCLIMATSCI-01277), NPJ Clim. Atmos. Sci., submitted.

Guy, Heather, Brooks, I., Turner, D. Cox, C., Rowe, P. Shupe, M., Walden, V., and Neely, R. 2023, Observations of fog-aerosol interactions over central Greenland, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. submitted.

Zou, Xun, Penny Marie Rowe, Irina Gorodetskaya, David H. Bromwich, Matthew Lazzara, Raul R. Cordero, Zhenhai Zhang, Brian Kawzenuk, Jason M. Cordeira, Jonathan D Wille, F. Martin Ralph, Le-sheng Bai, 2023. Strong Warming over the Antarctic Peninsula during Combined Atmospheric River and Foehn Events: Contribution of Shortwave Radiation and Turbulence, ESSOAr, submitted.

Cordero, R.R., Sepúlveda, E., Feron, S., Damiani, A., Fernandoy, F., Neshyba, S., Rowe, P.M., Asencio, V., Carrasco, J., Alfonso, J.A. and Llanillo, P., 2022. Black carbon footprint of human presence in Antarctica. Nature communications, 13(1), pp.1-11.

Cordero, R.R., Sepúlveda, E., Feron, S., Wang, C., Damiani, A., Fernandoy, F., Neshyba, S., Rowe, P.M., Asencio, V., Carrasco, J. and Alfonso, J.A., 2022. Black carbon in the Southern Andean snowpack. Environmental Research Letters, 17(4), p.044042.

Richter, P., Palm, M., Weinzierl, C., Griesche, H., Rowe, P. M., and Notholt, J., 2022. A dataset of microphysical cloud parameters, retrieved from Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) emission spectra measured in Arctic summer 2017, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 14, 2767-2784,

Cordero, R.R., Feron, S., Damiani, A., Redondas, A., Carrasco, J., Sepúlveda, E., Jorquera, J., Fernandoy, F., Llanillo, P., Rowe, P.M. and Seckmeyer, G., 2022. Persistent extreme ultraviolet irradiance in Antarctica despite the ozone recovery onset. Scientific reports, 12(1), pp.1-10.

Rowe, P.M., Walden, V.P., Brandt, R.E., Town, M.S., Hudson, S.R., and Neshyba, S. (2021). Evaluation of Temperature-Dependent Complex Refractive Indices of Supercooled Liquid Water Using Downwelling Radiance and In-Situ Cloud Measurements at South Pole, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 127, e2021JD035182.

Chyhareva, A., Gorodetskaya, I., Krakovska, S., Pishniak, D., & Rowe, P. (2021). Precipitation phase transition in austral summer over the Antarctic Peninsula. Ukrainian Antarctic journal, (1), 32-46.

Pizarro, J., Vergara, P. M., Cerda, S., Cordero, R. R., Castillo, X., Rowe, P. M., ... & Neshyba, S. (2021). Contaminant emissions as indicators of chemical elements in the snow along a latitudinal gradient in southern Andes. Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-10.

Feron, S., and Rowe, P.M. (2021) ¿Olas de calor en la Antártica? BACh 40(2), 29-31.

Sepúlveda, E., Cordero, R. R., Damiani, A., Feron, S., Pizarro, J., Zamorano, F., et al and Rowe, P. M. (2021). Evaluation of Antarctic Ozone Profiles derived from OMPS-LP by using Balloon-borne Ozonesondes. Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-11.

Bromwich, D.H., et al., The Year of Polar Prediction in the Southern Hemisphere (YOPP-SH). Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 101.10: E1653-E1676, 2020. (link, pdf)

Rowe, P. M., Fergoda, M., and Neshyba, S., Temperature-Dependent Optical Properties of Liquid Water From 240 to 298 K. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos.125(17), e2020JD032624, 2020. (link)

Lubin, D. et al., AWARE: The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) West Antarctic Radiation Experiment. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., BAMS-D-18-0278.1, 2020. (link , pdf )

Rowe P.M., Fortmann, L., Guasco, T.L., Wright, A., Ryken, A., Sevier, E., Stokes, G., Mifflin, A., Wade, R., Cheng, H., Pfalzgraff, W., Beaudoin, J., Rajbhandari, I., Fox-Dobbs, K., and Neshyba, S., Integrating polar research into undergraduate curricula using computational guided inquiry. J. Geosci. Ed., 1-14, 2020. (link)

Fortmann, L., Beaudoin, J., Rajbhandari, I., Wright, A., Neshyba, S., and Rowe, P., Teaching Modules for Estimating Climate Change Impacts in Economics Courses using Computational Guided Inquiry. J. Econ. Educ. DOI:  10.1080/00220485.2020.1731383, 2020. (link)

Rowe, P. M., Cox, C., Neshyba, S., & Walden, V. P., Toward autonomous surface-based infrared remote sensing of polar clouds: retrievals of cloud optical and microphysical properties. Atmos. Meas. Tech., 12(9), 5071-5086, 2019. (link , pdf)

Alfonso, J. A., Cordero, R., Rowe, P. M., et al., Elemental and Mineralogical Composition of the Western Andean Snow (18°S-41°S). Sci. Rep., 9(1), 1-13, 2019. (link).

Rowe, P. M., Cordero, R., Warren, S. G., Stewart, E., Doherty, S. J., Pankow, A., et al., Black carbon and other light-absorbing impurities in snow in the Chilean Andes. Sci. Rep., 9(1), 4008, 2019. (link)

Rowe, P. M., Cheng, H., Fortmann, L., Wright, A., et al., Teaching image processing in an upper level CS undergraduate class using computational guided inquiry and polar data. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 34(1), 171-179, 2018. (link)

Butterfield, N., Rowe, P. M., Stewart, E., Roesel, D., & Neshyba, S., Quantitative three-dimensional ice roughness from scanning electron microscopy. J. Geophys. Res: Atmos., 122(5), 3023-3041, 2017. (link)

Weaver, D., Strong, K., Schneider, M., Rowe, P. M., et al., Intercomparison of atmospheric water vapour measurements at a Canadian High Arctic site. Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 2851-2880, 2017.

Rowe, P. M., Cox, C., & Walden, V. P., Toward autonomous surface-based infrared remote sensing of polar clouds: Cloud height retrievals. Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 3641-3659, 2016. (link, pdf)

Cox, C., Rowe, P. M., Neshyba, S., & Walden, V. P., A synthetic data set of high-spectral resolution infrared spectra for the Arctic atmosphere. Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 1-29, 2016. (link)

Cordero, R. R., Damiani, A., Seckmeyer, G., Jorquera, J., Caballero, M., Rowe, P. M., et al., The Solar Spectrum in the Atacama Desert. Sci. Rep., 6, 2016. (link)

Gladich, I., Oswald, A., Bowens, N. Naatz, S., Rowe, P., Roeselova, M. and Neshyba, S., Mechanism of Anisotropic Surface Self-Diffusivity at the Prismatic Ice-Vapor Interface, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015, 17, 22947 - 22958, DOI: 10.1039/C5CP01330E, 2015.

Cox, C., Walden, V. P., Rowe, P. M., & Shupe, M., Humidity trends imply increased sensitivity to clouds in a warming Arctic. Nat. Commun., 6, 10117, 2015.

Lubin, D., B.H. Kahn, M.A. Lazzara, P.M. Rowe, and V.P. Walden, Variability in AIRS-retrieved cloud amount and thermodynamic phase over west versus east Antarctica influenced by the SAM, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, doi:10.1002/2014GL062285, 2015.

Cox, C., V. Walden, G.P. Compo, P.M. Rowe, M. Shupe, and K. Steffen, Downwelling longwave flux over Summit, Greenland, 2010-2012: Analysis of surface-based observations and evaluation of ERA-Interim using wavelets, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 119(21), 12317-12337, doi:10.1002/2014JD021975, 2014.

Cox, C.J., Turner, D.D., Rowe, P.M. Shupe, M.D. and Walden, V.P., Cloud microphysical properties retrieved from downwelling infrared radiance measurements made at Eureka, Nunavut, Canada (2006-2009), J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., doi: 10.1175/JAMC-D-13-0113.1, 2014.

Rowe, P.M., S. Neshyba, and V.P. Walden, Radiative consequences of low-temperature infrared refractive indices for supercooled water clouds, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 11925-11933, doi: 10.5194/acp-13-11925-2013, 2013.

Neshyba, S.P., Lowen, B., Benning, M., Lawson, A. and Rowe, P.M., Roughness metrics of prismatic facets of ice. J. Geophys. Res., 2013. (Marked for “Editor Highlight” on the J. Geophys. Res. homepage and listed in the Special Research Spotlight of EOS).

Shupe, M., Turner, D. D., Walden, V. P., Bennartz, R., Cadeddu, M. P., Castellani, B. B., Cox, C., D.R. Hudak, M.S. Kulie, N.B. Miller, R.R. Neely, W. Neff, P.M. Rowe, High and Dry: New Observations of Tropospheric and Cloud Properties above the Greenland Ice Sheet, Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 169-186, DOI 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00249.1, 2013.

Cox, C.J., V.P. Walden, and P.M. Rowe, A comparison of the atmospheric conditions at Eureka, Canada and Barrow, Alaska (2006-2008), J. Geophys. Res., 117, D12204 doi: 10.1029/2011JD017164, 2012.

Mariani, Z, K. Strong, M. Wolff, P. Rowe, V. Walden, P.F. Fogal, T. Duck, G. Lesins, D.S. Turner, C. Cox, E. Eloranta, J.R. Drummond, C. Roy, D.D. Turner, D. Hudak, and I.A. Lindenmaier, Infrared measurements in the Arctic using two Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometers, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 329-344; doi:10.5194/ amt-5-329-2012, 2012.

Rowe, P.M., S. Neshyba, and V.P. Walden, Responsivity-based criterion for accurate calibration of FTIR emission spectra: Theoretical development and bandwidth estimation, Optics Express, 19 (7), 5930-5941; doi:10.1364/OE.19.005930, 2011.

Rowe, P.M., S. Neshyba, C.J. Cox, and V.P. Walden, A responsivity-based criterion for low noise in FTIR emission spectra: Identification of in-band low-responsivity wavenumbers, Optics Express, 19 (6), 5451-5463; doi: 10.1364/OE.19.005451, 2011.

Walden, V.P., R.L. Tanamachi, P.M. Rowe, H.E. Revercomb, D.C. Tobin, and S.A. Ackerman, Improvements in the data quality of the Interferometric Monitor of Greenhouse Gases, Appl. Opt., 49, 520-528, doi: 10.1364/AO.49.000520, 2010.

Rowe, P., and V.P. Walden, Improved measurements of the foreign-broadened continuum of water vapor in the 6.3 mm band at -30°C, Appl. Opt., 48, 1358-1365, doi: 10.1364/AO.48.001358, 2009.

Rowe, P., L.M. Miloshevich, D.D. Turner, and V.P. Walden, Dry bias in radiosonde humidity profiles over Antarctica, J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., 25, 1529-1541, doi: 10.1175/2008JTECHA1009.1, 2008.

Rowe, P., V.P. Walden, and S.G. Warren,  Measurements of the foreign-broadened continuum of water vapor in the 6.3-μm band at -30 C, Appl. Opt., 45 (18), 4366-4382, doi: 10.1364/AO.45.004366, 2006.

Rowe, P. M., Measurements of the Foreign-Broadened Continuum of Water Vapor in the 6.3 micron band at -30 Celsius. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 278 pp, 2004.

Rathke, C, S. Neshyba, M. D. Shupe, P. Rowe, and A. Rivers, 2002: Radiative and microphysical properties of Arctic stratus clouds from multiangle downwelling infrared radiances, J. Geophys. Res. A. 107(D23), 4703, doi:10.1029/2001JD001545, 2002.