There is a high degree of uncertainty in future hydroclimatic changes due to the range of scales required to simulate precipitation and evapotranspiration in models and the uncertainty inherent in a complex climate. My work aims to understand the sources of this uncertainty (both modeled and real-world) using paleo-reconstructions, instrumental observations, and models to improve prediction of the range of hydroclimatic outcomes this coming century. As part of this, I investigate and diagnose the drivers of hydroclimatic change and its consequences for terrestrial hydrology, from low-frequency modes of variability to biogeochemistry of the land surface. Current projects include a focus on the role of vegetation in determining full-column soil moisture in the American Southwest and persistent drought risks in forced versus unforced climates.
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Translating the range of outcomes in physical climate impacts is insufficient to understand what such impacts imply for people and the systems they value. For example, snow is projected to melt in a warmer world, but the human impacts of less snow depends on where and how people use snow to supply water for human consumption. The aim of this work is to incorporate other sciences, both social and natural, to translate physical climate impacts into impacts on humans. Current projects include an examination of the risks of declines in future water availability given human water demand and a bottom-up (agricultural impacts) approach to identifing correlated climate extremes.
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We know that model-simulated internal variability induced by the atmosphere is sufficient to mask, amplify, or reverse the direction of anthropogenically-forced trends in temperature, circulation, and precipitation at large spatial and temporal scales, complicating adaptation decisions. Characterizing the most likely climate outcome is not sufficient for planning. Rather, quantifying the full extent of outcomes from internal variability under global warming is key to enable adaptation in the face of uncertain climate change threats. Robust decision-making under uncertainty requires the identification of adaptations that produce benefits under the broadest range of outcomes from internal variability. This area of research aims to enable climate risk management and robust decision-making by incorporating these tools into climate science questions. Current projects include identification of the time of emergence and distribution of benefits of agricultural adaptation.
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I am an interdisciplinary climate scientist and an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, jointly appointed by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. My research aims to constrain the uncertainty essential to understanding and responding to climate change’s impacts on people. Working on water and agriculture, I focus on two of the major sources of uncertainty in climate impacts assessments: the chaos of the climate system and the complexity of how people respond to climate stress. I hope my research can help inform the adaptation and risk management decisions people undertake in response to the uncertain threats from climate change. This requires advances in both basic and applied climate science, to include the integration of risk management, economics, and the communication of uncertainty. My previous career was as an intelligence officer working in South Asia and the Middle East. I am from Vermont and I hold degrees from Columbia University (BA, MPA), the London School of Economics (MSc), and Stanford University (PhD).
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
MSc, London School of Economics & Political Science, London, UK, 2008
Global Politics & Development Studies
BA, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, 2004