my interdisciplinary life

My new life at the University of New Mexico includes teaching in and overseeing an interdisciplinary graduate program for water resources students (Not too early to apply for next fall!). But what does this word “interdisciplinary” mean? My day thus far: morning phone call with law school faculty member about arcane structure of New Mexico’s …

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soil moisture and the new forecast for an above-average year on the Colorado River

A wet January added nearly 3 million acre feet to the Colorado River runoff forecast, with the Feb. 1 forecast update from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center sitting at 9.5 million acre feet for April through July. That is 34 percent above average. The snowpack currently sits at 56 percent above average. The dropoff …

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evidence, policy, and the importance of stories

Upcoming discussions in my spring University of New Mexico Water Resources Program class about the importance of evidence in policy-making seem freshly relevant. The class, co-taught with hydrologist Jesse Roach and economist Jingjing Wang, has a pretty nerdy focus on dynamic simulation modeling. Over the course of the semester, the students work through the problem …

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the understandings and misunderstandings of science

The task of imparting clarity about the understandings and misunderstandings of science is, I have come to realize, one of my important tasks in my new role as university educator. Our students are pursuing masters degrees in water resources (check us out, not too early to start thinking about applying for fall semester!). The curriculum …

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Not a lot of good reservoir sites on Mars

For those planning a trip to Mars…. Evidence shows that more than 3 billion years ago Mars was wet and habitable. However, this latest research reaffirms just how dry the environment is today. For life to exist in the areas we investigated, it would need to find pockets far beneath the surface, located away from …

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In fond memory of Kelly Redmond

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 …

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Greenhouse gases and southwest “megadrought”

Scientists have dubbed decades-long periods of aridity in southwestern North America “megadroughts“. We’ve had them in the past, and research has long pointed toward an increasing risk of them as the climate warms. New research published last week by Cornell’s Toby Ault and colleagues has generated a wave of scary headlines – A Mega-Drought Is Coming to …

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the role of science and evidence in decision-making processes

I’m working on a couple of projects right now in which I’m trying to help policymakers effectively communicate complex science (involving drought, climate change, and water availability, but that goes without saying, right?) in political and policy processes. Paul Cairney suggests the constraints: In debate, evidence is mentioned a lot, but only to praise the …

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