Jay Famiglietti on GRACE and global hydrology

Jay Famiglietti from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tells Mike about taking the plunge into using the GRACE gravity-measuring satellites for hydrology research. Keep in mind, this was at a time when hydrology was viewed as noise in the gravity signal, and that Jay was just starting off as an academic with his first graduate student, Matt Rodell. But making this kind of leap — from surface hydrology in Jay’s case — is of course what so often leads to step changes in science. Over the past decade, Jay and his colleagues have revealed the shocking reductions in groundwater in many water stressed parts of the world, including India and the Central Valley. Although perhaps best known for his work with GRACE, Jay is also a noted modeler, and much of his current work focuses on an ambitious data assimilation approach for simulating the real time hydrological state of the western United States at high resolution. And now, Jay is taking another plunge, this time to the University of Saskatchewan, where he’s landed a huge position as Research Chair in Hydrology and Remote Sensing.

Photo by Sadie Goff’

Music: SODAR by Scanglobe and Parallel Park by Ziggurat, both CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

11th Graduate Climate Conference

In episode 58 of Forecast, Mike talks with Henri DrakeJennifer Carman, and Molly Keogh, three of the attendees at the 11th Graduate Climate Conference. The meeting itself is a great chance for grad students working on climate change — broadly defined — to get together with their immediate peers, away from, ahem, pesky senior scientists. The interviews span physical oceanography, wetland restoration, environmental psychology, education, and behavior change. A tiny window into the inspiring work being done by the next generation of climate researchers!


The launch of EarthArXiv

Tom Narock and Chris Jackson tell Mike about the new EarthArXiv preprint server.  The show is a bit of an oddball for Forecast, considering that the show’s usual diet is long-format interviews about a scientist’s life and research. But the launch of EarthArXiv — one of a growing series of preprint servers — could be the spark to light the  climate science community’s interest in the use of preprints, long a fixture of fields like physics and mathematics. For a discussion of EarthArXiv within the broader publishing landscape I encourage you to check out Victor Venema’s excellent blog post over at Variable Variability.

Music: Hallon by Christian Bjoerklund CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Climate policy with Gretchen Goldman

Forecast is mostly about climate science — the people who do it, and why they’re stoked about their work. But science is inevitably conducted within a political context, and Mike is a neanderthal when it comes to politics. Gretchen Goldman from the Union of Concerned Scientists, on the other hand, knows a lot about science policy. Gretchen initially planned to avoid the often-unpleasant dynamics surrounding climate science, and went into air pollution research. Eventually the draw of engaging in even bigger issues proved too much to resist, and Gretchen is now the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the UCS. Gretchen leaves Mike feeling surprisingly optimistic. In spite of the dark times facing US climate science, and as Gretchen discusses in a Science Policy Forum, there are still clear ways for scientists to engage with the broader public and to promote the use of science in the democratic and policy process. For those interested in getting more involved, the UCS provides excellent resources for networking and dealing with personal attacks.

Disclosure: As Gretchen discusses in the interview, her husband works at NOAA, an agency whose budget faces major cuts. He is also the consulting meteorologist for climate.gov.

Music: Hashashin by Metastaz, CC BY-NC 4.0.; A1 Rogue by Podington Bear, CC BY-NC 3.0.