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 and floods in California. My research seeks to embrace “climate complexity” by accounting for the nuanced spatial and temporal characteristics of our planet’s response to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
My recent efforts have focused on the broader climate context of the 2013-2016 California drought, with a particular focus on understanding extremely persistent regions of atmospheric high pressure over the Pacific Ocean (like the so-called “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge“)–which tend to cause severe dryness and warmth across the Pacific Southwest. I have also begun work on a new investigation into the changing character of California precipitation extremes in a warming world, especially those linked to concentrated plumes of atmospheric water vapor known as “atmospheric rivers.”
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 and other scientific topics. In addition to giving frequent interviews to print, radio, television, and web media outlets, I also review existing news articles for climate-related 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.