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Gordon Shepherd

Professor Emeritus



Phone Number: 416-736-2100 x33221



Gordon G. Shepherd was born in Saskatchewan and obtained his BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and his PhD at the University of Toronto in 1956. He was Assistant and then Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Saskatchewan from 1957 to 1969, where he conducted ground-based and rocket studies of the aurora. In 1969 Dr. Shepherd became Professor of Physics at York University in Toronto, where he was Principal Investigator of the Red Line Photometer for the ISIS-II spacecraft, launched in 1971. Dr. Shepherd is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. During 1991- 93 he was the recipient of a Killam Fellowship. In 1999 he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and in 2003 the Canadian Space Agency awarded him the John H. Chapman Award of Excellence. More recently he received the SCOSTEP Distinguished Research Scientist Award and the COSPAR William Nordberg Medal. About thirty M.Sc. and thirty Ph.D. students have completed their degrees under his direction. His second satellite mission, WINDII, the Wind Imaging Interferometer on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was launched in 1991, operated until 2003 and is still producing scientific publications, the most recent in 2021. It was based on his concept of a field-widened Michelson interferometer that acquired more than 20 million images of winds in the upper atmosphere, providing a unique description of winds in the upper atmosphere.

Awards & Recognitions
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
Recipient of the John H. Chapman Award of Excellence (CSA)
SCOSTEP Distinguished Research Scientist award
COSPAR William Nordberg Medal

Research Interests

  • Development of spectroscopic instruments for observations of the upper atmosphere from space. This culminated in a field-widened Michelson interferometer for the measurement of winds and temperatures from about 80 km to 300 km altitude.
  • Studies of the wind wall, a reversal of wind at high latitudes, above 50 degrees latitude, including comparison with SuperDARN plasma flow observations.
  • Establishment of an empirical formulation of daytime airglow emission at O(1D) 630.0 nm red line and O(1S) 557.7 nm green line based solely on the solar flux and the solar zenith angle of observations.
  • Comparison of daytime airglow emission rates from 1992-1996 with current measurements by recently launched instruments.

Selected Publications

Shepherd, Gordon G. and Young-Min Cho, 2021. On the Relationship of the O(1D) 630.0 nm Dayglow Emission to the 10.7 cm Solar Flux and the Solar Zenith Angle, Journal of Geophysical Research – Space Physics, 126,e2020JA028715 https:/

Shepherd, Gordon G. and Marianna G. Shepherd, 2018. High-Latitude Observations of a Localized Wind Wall and Its Coupling to the Lower Thermosphere, Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 4586–4593.

Shepherd G. and Y.-M. Cho, 2017. WINDII airglow observations of wave superposition and the
possible association with historical “bright nights”, Geophys. Res. Lett. doi:10.1002/2017GL074014

Shepherd G, Cho Y-M, Fomichev V, Martynenko O., 2016. Thermospheric atomic oxygen concentrations from WINDII O+(2P-2D) 732 nm emission: Comparisons with the NRLMSISE-00 and C-IAM models and with GUVI observations, J. Atmos. Solar-Terr. Phys. 147: 50-58.

Gordon G. Shepherd, Young-Min Cho, Victor I. Fomichev, and Oleg V. Martynenko, 2014, Characteristics of the O+ (2P–2D) 732.0 and 733.0 nm airglow emissions observed with WINDII and simulated with the C-IAM, Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2014GL060840.

G. G. Shepherd, G. Thuillier, Y.-M. Cho, M.-L. Duboin, W.F.J. Evans, W.A. Gault, C. Hersom, D.-J.-W. Kendall, C. Lathuillère, R.P. Lowe, I.C. McDade, Y.J. Rochon, M.G. Shepherd, B.H. Solheim, D.-Y. Wang, W.E. Ward, 2012. The Wind Imaging Interferometer (WINDII) On The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite: A Twenty-Year Perspective, Geo. Revs. Geophys. 50, RG2007, doi:10.1029/2012RG000390.

Liu, G., G.G. Shepherd and R.G. Roble, 2008. J. Seasonal variations of the nighttime O(1S) and OH airglow emission rates at mid-to-high latitudes in the context of the large-scale circulation, Geophys. Res., 113, A06302,  doi:10.1029/2007JA012854.

Shepherd, G.G., Y.-M. Cho, G. Liu, M.G. Shepherd and R.G. Roble, 2006. Airglow variability in the context of the global mesospheric circulation, J. Atmos. Solar-Terr. Phys. doi.10.1016.j.jastp.2006.06.006.

Shepherd, G.G., J. Stegman, W. Singer and R.G. Roble, 2004. Equinox transition in wind and airglow observations, J. Atmos. Solar-Terr. Phys. doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2004.01.005.

Shepherd, G.G., G. Thuillier, W.A. Gault, B.H. Solheim, C. Hersom, J.M. Alunni, J.-F. Brun, S. Brune, P. Charlot, D.-L. Desaulniers, W.F.J. Evans, F. Girod, D. Harvie, R.H. Hum, D.J.W. Kendall, E.J. Llewellyn, R.P. Lowe, J.Ohrt, F. Pasternak, O. Peillet, I. Powell, Y. Rochon, W.E. Ward, R.H. Wiens, J. Wimperis, 1993. WINDII – The Wind Imaging Interferometer on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, J. Geophys. Res. 98, 10,725-10,750.