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James Whiteway

Professor, P.Eng




Dr. James Whiteway is a Professor at York University, in Earth and Space Science, and was previously a faculty member at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. He has a Ph.D. in Physics from York University and a B.Sc. in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University.

Research Interests

Professor Whiteway investigates the atmospheres on Earth and Mars. The work involves the development and application of laser remote sensing technology.


Professor Whiteway led a team of Canadian scientists in discovering snow falling from Martian clouds. The observations were made with an instrument called the LIDAR on the spacecraft for the NASA Phoenix mission that landed on Mars in 2008. The LIDAR instrument was based on the development of laser remote sensing within Prof. Whiteway’s laboratory at York University. It emitted pulses of laser light into the Martian sky, measuring dust and clouds composed of water ice. The clouds were observed to have streaks extending toward the ground. That view was immediately familiar to Prof. Whiteway since LIDAR measurements of precipitation look the same on Earth.

The Phoenix Mars mission is finished, but the work continues in an environmental chamber that simulates the conditions on the surface of Mars. The next generation of the Mars LIDAR will be directed at the surface of Mars to detect the deposition of water and this is being tested in a chamber that simulates the environment on Mars. Scientific progress is already being made with the finding that water can condense out of the atmosphere onto salts on the surface of Mars.


Professor Whiteway’s Earth based research involves the development and application of laser remote sensing to study processes in the atmosphere that play a role in determining climate and air quality. A lidar system for measurements of atmospheric ozone, clouds and aerosol, has been built for installation on various aircraft. This has recently been installed on the Polar-5 aircraft (DC-3) and on the Amundsen icebreaker ship for measurements of the impact of sea ice on air chemistry and ozone. Another recent field campaign has involved installing the lidar on a Twin Otter aircraft for measurements of air pollution form the oil sands industry in northern Alberta.

Previous research projects with aircraft have involved the study of the clouds and dynamics in the upper-level anvil outflow from tropical convection, and also the atmospheric waves and turbulence generated by the flow of air over mountains.

Selected Publications

  • “Laboratory Study of Adsorption and Deliquescence on the Surface of Mars”, Nikolakakos, G., and J. Whiteway Icarus, Accepted, published online May 5, 2017.
  • “Influence of Mountains on Arctic Tropospheric “Ozone, Seabrook, J., and J. Whiteway, Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, 1935–1942, doi:10.1002/ 2015JD024114, 2016
  • ” Laboratory Investigation of Perchlorate Deliquescence at the Surface of Mars with a Raman Scattering Lidar”, Nikalokakos, G., and J. Whiteway Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL0654342015.
  •  “A Solar Escalator on Mars: Self Lifting of Dust Layers by Radiative Heating “, Daerden, F, J. Whiteway, L. Neary, L. Komguem, M. Lemmon, N. Heavens, B. Cantor, E. Hébrard, Geophysical Research Letters. Vol. 42, Vol. 42, doe:10.1002/2015GL064892, 2015.
  •  “Canadian Instruments on Landed Planetary Exploration Missions”, Whiteway, J., R. Gellert, M. Daly, Physics in Canada. Special issue for Canadian Space Science. December 2014.
  •  “Airborne lidar measurements of surface ozone depletion over Arctic sea ice”,Seabrook, J., J. A. Whiteway, L. Gray, R. Staebler, A. Herber, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13, 6023-6029, doi:10.5194/acp-13-6023-2013, 2013.
  • “Phoenix LIDAR Observations of Mars Atmospheric Dust”, Komguem L., J. Whiteway, C. Dickinson, M. Daly, M. Lemmon, Icarus, vol. 223, pp. 649-643, doi: 10.1016/j.icarus.2013.01.020, 2013.
  •  “LIDAR Measurements of Arctic Boundary Layer Ozone Depletion Events Over the Frozen Arctic Ocean”, Seabrook, J., J. Whiteway, R. Staebler, J. Bottenheim, L. Komguem, L. Gray, D. Barber, M. Asplin, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1029/2011JD016335, 2011.
  •  “Observations of Near-Surface Fog at the Phoenix Mars Landing Site” Moores, J., L. Komguem, J. Whiteway, M. Lemmon, C. Dickinson, F. Daerden
    Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 38, L04203, doi:10.1029/2010GL046315, 2011.
  •  “Lidar Atmospheric Measurements on Mars and Earth” ,Dickinson C., L. Komguem, J. A. Whiteway, M. Illnicki, V. Popovici, W. Junkermann, P. Connolly, J. Hacker, Planetary and Space Science, doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2010.03.004, 2011.
  •  “Lidar Measurements of Clouds in the Planetary Boundary Layer on Mars”, Dickinson, C., J. Whiteway, L. Komguem, J. Moores, M. Lemmon Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 37, L18203, doi:10.1029/2010GL044317, 2010.
  •   “Simulating Observed Boundary Layer Clouds on Mars”,Daerden F., J. A. Whiteway, R. Davy, C. Verhoeven, L. Komguem, C. Dickinson, P. A. Taylor, N. Larsen, Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L04203, doi:10.1029/2009GL041523, 2010.
  •  “Mars water ice clouds and precipitation”Whiteway, J. A., L. Komguem, C. Dickinson, C. Cook, M. Illnicki, J. Seabrook, V. Popovici, T. J. Duck, R. Davy, P. A. Taylor, J. Pathak, D. Fisher, A. I. Carswell, M. Daly, V. Hipkin, A. P. Zent, M. H. Hecht, S. E. Wood, L. Tamppari, N. Renno, J. Moores, M. T. Lemmon, F. Daerden, P. H. Smith Science, vol . 325, page 68, 3 July 2009.
  •  “LIDAR on the Phoenix Mars mission”,Whiteway, J., M. Daly, A. Carswell, C. Dickinson, T. Duck, L. Komguemand C. Cook. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, E00A08, doi:10.1029/2007JE003002, 2008.