Research Focus As a climate scientist, I study the physics, dynamics, and impacts of the Earth’s changing climate system. I’m especially interested in how global warming is affecting the character and causes of regional climate extremes—including the atmospheric phenomena responsible for droughts, floods, and wildfires. My research embraces “climate complexity” by accounting for the nuanced spatial and temporal characteristics of our planet’s response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. I also work to understand linkages between different elements of the broader Earth system, and how changing conditions in the tropics and polar regions may be affecting climate in geographically distant regions.
My recent work seeks to understand the changing spatiotemporal character of precipitation, including the rising risk of regional “megafloods” in a warming climate. In addition, my colleagues and I have recently embarked on multiple research projects focused on understanding the climate-related factors driving the recent surge in wildfire activity in California. A collective aim of both these research tracks is to develop empirically-supported approaches to natural hazard mitigation that benefit both society and the environment in an era of increasing climate whiplash.
Science Communication and Outreach I author the Weather West blog, which provides real-time perspectives on California and western North American weather, climate, and regional change. I also engage extensively with journalists and other partners to facilitate accessible, scientifically-informed media coverage surrounding climate change. In addition to serving as a climate and weather science liaison to print, radio, television, and web media outlets, I also review existing news articles for scientific accuracy as part of the Climate Feedback team. You can find me on Twitter @Weather_West.
Our researchers are investigating the effects of climate change on heavy precipitation events in the state. Specifically, we're focusing on atmospheric rivers, moisture-laden filaments of air that move across oceans and produce heavy precipitation when they make landfall. Understanding how atmospheric rivers are affected in a changing climate is key to smart water planning in the future.