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Creating novel high-impact applications of satellite-based observations for improving the monitoring and management of water and food worldwide has led to NASA Applied Science's John D. Bolten receiving a prestigious Arthur S. Flemming Award. Granted by George Washington University, the award is presented to career federal employees who have at least three but no more than fifteen years of government service.

Hydrologist John D. Bolten in front of just one of NASA's many Earth science data sets
Hydrologist John D. Bolten in front of just one of NASA's many Earth science data sets, this one is featured on the Climate Simulation's Data Visualization Theater, commonly known as the hyperwall, at NASA Goddard.

The awards committee recognize Bolten in the category of "Applied Science and Engineering," citing his work in applying satellite remote sensing, land surface modeling and data assimilation to water resources management, agricultural forecasting and flood monitoring. Bolten is currently the associate program manager of water resources for the NASA Earth Applied Sciences at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Recent examples of Bolten’s work include soil moisture maps used operationally by the United States Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service's crop forecasting system as well the first maps based on data from NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission data to be available in Google Earth Engine.

Bolten led the development of a satellite-based near real-time flood damage assessment system for the Lower Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia, which was mobilized for a dam break in Laos in 2018. In addition, Bolten led NASA's contribution to the U.S. Global Water Strategy, developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as giving multiple highly impactful webinars, interviews, and keynote lectures around the world to help educate and further convey the importance of NASA Applied Sciences mission. Bolten and his team are also creating a deep learning-based system for improved satellite-based agricultural monitoring products as well as novel demonstrations of Earth science projects that incorporate socio-economic and satellite-based Earth observations.

The 70th annual Flemming Awards honor the accomplishments of 12 federal employees from agencies across the federal government. The awards were presented at a June 3, 2019 ceremony hosted by the Arthur S. Flemming Commission in partnership with the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy in cooperation with the National Academy of Public Administration.

Recipients are nominated by their federal agencies and then selected from a pool of nominees through a competitive judging process. The award is named after public servant Arthur S. Flemming, who served in government for more than six decades spanning seven administrations and including service as the secretary of health, education and welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Jessica Sheaves, NASA Earth Applied Sciences writer
Megan Gannon