Dave Jones

2006 Charles S. Falkenberg Award Winner

Dave Jones received the Charles S. Falkenberg Award at the 2006 Summer Federation of Earth Science Information Partners Conference, which was held on 19 July 2006, in Nanuet, N.Y. The award honors “a scientist under 45 years of age who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities, and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information and to the public awareness of the importance of understanding our planet.”


It was my great pleasure to nominate Dave Jones for the AGU Charles S. Falkenberg Award.

As founder, president, and chief executive officer of StormCenter Communications, Inc., in Ellicott City, Md., Dave has been a leader in developing new applications for NASA and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth observation information and using these products to educate the public and policy makers about environmental issues affecting our ecosystems.

Working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the television industry, Dave pioneered the concept of expanding traditional weather forecasts into ‘Envirocasts®’ that seek to inform the public about the impact of human actions on our natural resources. His work on the impact of stream runoff on the health of the Chesapeake Bay was shown extensively on television news broadcasts in the National Capital region and has received national attention as a model for environmental public education initiatives.

Working with Earth Observation Magazine, Dave initiated and authored a series of 12 monthly articles on the potential of current and planned Earth observation satellite missions and the importance of the information derived from these missions to efforts to understand our planet and respond to manmade and natural disasters that threaten life and property. Dave’s articles in such areas as hurricane path prediction are helping policy makers in both the public and private sectors understand the Earth observing technology that is available to them and to integrate this information into real-world decisionmaking situations.

From May 2002 to August 2004, Dave served as president of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP). At the time he assumed this office, the Federation was an informal association of NASA grantees and data centers. Under Dave’s leadership, the Federation rapidly evolved into a broad-based consortium of Earth observing data interests and a primary user group in the Earth science information community. With a current membership of over 75 organizations involved in both the collecting and storing of remote sensing data and the use of the data for research, technology development, education, and commercial purposes, the Federation provides an ideal mechanism for generating collaborations that will lead to the discovery of new applications for the wealth of data available and improved public policy decision-making relating to the environment of our home planet.

The president of ESIP also served as the chairman of the board of directors of the Foundation for Earth Science, a nonprofit organization that is designed to support the work of the Federation and educate the public about the importance of Earth observation research and development. During Dave’s term as chairman, the Foundation initiated public education activities aimed at ‘putting a human face’ on the work being done in the Earth sciences with the aid of Earth observing technology.

It is my belief that the stories of the impact of Earth observation data, models, and decision-making systems on individuals will form the essential bridge that is now missing between Earth scientists and the general public. The Foundation’s GOES-R (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) information video, produced by StormCenter Communications, clearly demonstrates the potential of using such impact metrics to convey the value of the scientific work being done with Earth observation information in the lives of our citizens.

Through his work as a scientist and communicator—as president of StormCenter Communications, as president of ESIP, and as chair of the Foundation for Earth Science—Dave Jones has provided the leadership required to make the case for the continued investment of national resources in the generation, processing, and application of Earth observation information. In doing so, he has greatly contributed to the advancement of the Earth sciences and qualified himself as the 2006 Charles S. Falkenberg awardee.



About 10 years ago, when I was working at NBC in Washington, D.C., my wife, Denise, asked me what I wanted out of life, what would make me feel that I had accomplished something.

After some thought, I answered, “I would like to know that I have contributed in some way to helping people make more informed decisions when it comes to weather and the environment…I want to make a real difference and help people.”

When I received the letter from AGU notifying me that I was the 2006 winner of the Charles S. Falkenberg award, Denise said, “Wow, Dave, you did it! You did what you set out to do; what an honor and accomplishment!” I got a cold chill that ran through my body when my wife remembered that brief conversation 10 years ago.

This award launches me on a pretty emotional roller coaster. It is the biggest honor I have received in my life, next to my wife saying yes when I asked her to marry me, in 1986, and the birth of my two beautiful daughters, Lindsay and Heather, in 1993 and 2000.

I knew Charlie Falkenberg and discussed Earth science research with him in the early stages of the Federation, and this award will add another permanent reminder in my heart of the events of September 11, 2001, and how the entire world was affected that day. It will also remind me that there is much work to be done to even fill the Earth science gap created by Charlie’s tragic loss. I know Charlie had high hopes for Earth science applications and how those applications could contribute to society. Charlie was looking forward to making big things happen.

We have made quite a bit of progress since the inception of the ESIP Federation with solid communities coming together to address national needs and priorities. The Foundation for Earth Science is putting together plans and a direction to begin raising funds in order to step up Federation efforts that will make significant contributions to people’s lives. As a Federation partner, my company, StormCenter Communications, has stepped up our network of media partners that are exposing more Americans to the value of environmental and remote sensing data. We are laying the groundwork to get more Federation partners involved in providing increased science, climate, natural disaster, air and water information, and public health information to the public in a meaningful and understandable way.

In the past four years, StormCenter has increased its number of media partners from reaching just one market and four million people to more than 10 markets and a national network reaching more than 140 million people. With the recent addition of The Weather Channel®, StormCenter has increased the number of people exposed to Earth science content by 90 million households and is delivering a broad range of research and operational data to more citizens and decision makers each and every year.

We have designed a business model that works for sponsors, for our media partners and content providers network, and for StormCenter that allows us to produce environmental content on a regular basis, always searching for Earth science data and imagery to integrate while delivering Earth and environmental science content through television news and weathercasts. These are exciting times for all of us and the people we serve.

This is something I think Charlie would have been very pleased to see.

Receiving the Charles S. Falkenberg Award touches many emotions, from being overjoyed to being saddened when I think about Charlie and his family. I thank AGU, the ESIP Federation, and the Foundation for Earth Science for nominating me and ultimately selecting me to receive this most prestigious award. Thanks to Dick Wertz and Carol Meyer from the Foundation for Earth Science for running an outstanding organization that will only grow, with NASA, NOAA, and the EPA and others as major partners. Your tireless efforts are making a difference in this world. And a special thank you to Martha Maiden at NASA for believing in my approach to reaching millions; your early enthusiasm and support kept me innovating. It is all paying off big time.

I would, however, never have been placed in the position to even be nominated if it were not for the love and friendship of my wife and family. Without the encouragement of Denise to pursue my dreams to start my own company to work toward making a difference in people’s lives, I think I would still be on television telling the residents of Washington, D.C., that today and tomorrow will be hot. StormCenter is now making a much bigger difference in many more people’s lives. Charlie would have loved to be a part of that…and he still is.

Thank you so much.

—DAVE JONES, StormCenter Communications, Inc., Ellicott City, Md.