Every fall semester, I have our UNM Water Resources Program students read Kelly Redmond’s 2002 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper on the definitions of drought. It’s a classic in a very particular and important way.
Based at the Desert Research Center in Reno, Kelly carried the title of “Regional Climatologist” for the western United States, and it was a title that he lived. For decades as a newspaper reporter, I’d do the ritual of calling Kelly only to get his standard voicemail detailing his travel schedule for the week. He spent as much time on the road traveling the West talking to people as he did in his office.
The grueling travel schedule was purposeful. No scientist I know more fully lived his life at the interface between his science and the people who needed to use it. As a result, Kelly was the most skilled and gifted science communicator I know – because in significant part he spent his time listening to the people who needed to use his science, understanding what they needed.
His 2002 BAMS paper is a classic because it is informed by the deep understanding that came from those years of listening. His knowledge of the science, as an active researcher on western climate issues, was unsurpassed. But it was a science always informed by what the community needed of it.
Kelly died yesterday at his home in Reno. The outpouring of love the last 24 hours has been amazing. He was enormously generous with his time and intellect. He will be deeply missed, but the enterprise we are all engaged in is immeasurably richer for his contributions.