Cooperative Institute for
Meteorological Satellite Studies


CIMSS is a Cooperative Institute formed through a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1980. CIMSS operates as an institute within the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC); Dr. Tristan L'Ecuyer is the director of CIMSS. CIMSS scientists conduct research using remote sensing systems for meteorological and surface-based applications.

Our Mission

The CIMSS mission includes three goals:

  • Foster collaborative research among NOAA, NASA, and the University in those aspects of atmospheric and earth system sciences that exploit the use of satellite technology;
  • Serve as a center at which scientists and engineers working on problems of mutual interest can focus on satellite-related research in atmospheric and earth system science;
  • Stimulate the training of scientists and engineers in the disciplines involved in atmospheric and earth science.

Foster Collaboration Among NOAA, NASA, and the University
Since its inception CIMSS has had strong partnerships with NOAA and NASA. Our scientists are dedicated to conducting quality research that can be transitioned to operational use with NOAA's National Weather Service, resulting in improved weather forecasts. Not only are we focusing on what we can do and improve with current weather satellite data, but we are looking ahead to the next generation weather satellites and continuing to make advances in our understanding of atmospheric and earth system science.

Serve as a Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate
As a recognized leader in satellite remote sensing, CIMSS has established a number of collaborations around the country with other NOAA cooperative institutes and universities. Internationally, we have especially strong ties with research and operational centers in Asia and Europe, maintaining ongoing scientist exchange programs with many of our research partners.

Train the Scientists and Engineers of Today and Tomorrow
CIMSS is committed to the development of a weather-ready, scientifically literate society. Our scientists and educators participate in numerous education and public outreach programs with a special focus on topics of weather, climate, and satellite remote sensing. On-going activities range from sponsoring a science camp for high school students to teacher workshops on and off campus, outreach programs using NOAA's Science on a Sphere (SOS), developing and distributing online education activities, engaging undergraduate and graduate students in research projects, and training professionals through workshops, on-line curricula, blogs, and webinars. In recognition of the steady expansion of education and outreach programming at CIMSS, the CIMSS Director formally established the CIMSS Education and Public Outreach Office in 2012.


The CIMSS staff consists of over 100 associates, including administrative staff, principal investigators, scientific and programming staff, visiting scientists, and student hourly support. Several federal employees also work at CIMSS, including members of the NOAA Advanced Satellite Products Branch (ASPB), a NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) employee, and a NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) employee.

If you are looking for a phone number or an email address of a staff member, please try our staff directory.

CIMSS Board of Directors/CIMSS Scientific Advisory Council

The Board of Directors was established to advise the CIMSS Director by reviewing the policies, research themes, and priorities of CIMSS, including budget and scientific activities. The Board is comprised of adminstrators from NOAA, NASA, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Board is responsible for approving the appointment of members to the Scientific Advisory Council.

The Scientific Advisory Council was created to advise the CIMSS Director in establishing the broad scientific content of CIMSS programs; promoting cooperation among CIMSS, NASA, and NOAA; maintaining high scientific and professional standards; and preparing proposals and reports of CIMSS activities. The Council is comprised of scientists from NOAA, NASA, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and other universities.