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–especially across the American West.
My recent work seeks to understand the changing character precipitation, including the rising risk of regional “megafloods” as the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increases. In addition to better understanding the thermodynamic and dynamic changes to the atmosphere responsible for shifting hydroclimatic extremes, a key aim of this research is to develop empirically-supported, multi-benefit approaches to natural hazard mitigation 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 scientifically informed yet broadly accessible 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.
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.