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Drought, Fire, and Flood: Monitoring and Modeling More Frequent Catastrophes

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Session Description: 

Dr. Chris Funk of the USGS and UC Santa Barbara explores the relationship between climate change, catastrophic events, and human response. Between 2015 and 2018 an unprecedented series of droughts, floods, fires, heat waves and hurricanes took the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, resulting in over $700 billion dollars in damages, costs similar in magnitude to a large scale war. The frequency and costs of weather and climate related catastrophes are increasing dramatically, as a growing population and a warmer climate place more people in harm's way. Warming of the atmosphere can both increase the intensity of extreme precipitation and cyclones, while also increasing the impact of droughts and the extent of wildfires. Warming of the oceans can lead to coral bleaching and more intense wet or dry cycles. Against this back- drop of need, however, improved monitoring systems and models can help us improve our understanding of our physical, social and economic systems and help us manage risk and work towards a more sustainable future.

About Dr. Funk:
Dr. Chris Funk is a Senior Research Geographer for the USGS EROS Early Warning and Environmental Monitoring Group and is a Research Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). Much of his work centers on the study of extreme events and early warning systems. His research interests include using climate predictions to improve food security, with emphasis on developing nations in Africa. He has published numerous papers on drought monitoring, climate impacts, and weather extremes and has facilitated coordinating efforts across national and international institutions, including establishing the Climate Hazards Group in 2003 to facilitate collaboration between the USGS and UCSB. Dr. Funk’s public lecture will focus on how models and monitoring can be used to prepare for catastrophic events and mitigate their devastating impacts.

Workshop Topic (s): 
  • Atmospheric Composition
  • Carbon Cycle
  • Climate Variability and Change (including Climate Modeling)
  • Human Contributions & Responses
  • Land-Use/Land-Cover Change
  • Water Cycle