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.

Kelly Redmond

Kelly Redmond

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.


  1. Pingback: ON THE BRINK: SoCal faces dire, drier future | A Change in the Wind

  2. Ouch. That is a punch in the gut. So rare to find such an analytical, careful, yet human, creative and insightful man. He brought that insight and depth, plus an ample measure of warmth and good humor to every conversation I was in with him. He will be sorely missed.

  3. Kelly was a great scientist, a true westerner, a charismatic and caring person, an amazing communicator, and a steward of the natural world. He advised Yosemite, as well as other protected areas and public lands, for many years. His contribution was immeasurable, and his legacy is signifcant. He will be missed.

  4. Thanks, John, for a lovely remembrance. He was a one-of-a-kind climatologist, and a very warm, generous, and funny individual.

  5. Kelly was a sweetheart: patient, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and open to new ideas. He will be greatly missed.

  6. For the past 11 years Kelly collaborated with us on an interdisciplinary research project concerned with downscaling climate data to improve our ability to assess the impact of climate change on plant species and ecosystems of the western U.S. I am thankful for the opportunity. He was a thought leader with that rare combination of deep expertise, curiosity, civic spirit, humor, and humility. Such a special individual!
    Rest in peace, Kelly.

  7. Thank you for this kind tribute. Kelly was truly interested in the world and people around him. We will miss him.

  8. Thank you for this beautiful remembrance, and for giving us a forum to say how much we will miss Kelly. Kelly enriched every life he touched. He had a huge heart.

  9. Kelly was, indeed, a skilled scientist and great communicator. But he was also a really good, nice guy. He will be missed. Thanks John for playing tribute.

  10. Very nice remembrance, John. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Kelly over some 30 years. I often admired his unique skill of being able to summarize and communicate complex science issues to policy/decision makers. He had the ability to distill and relate climate change, drought and meteorological issues in a most understandable way, often with a sense of humor and wit. He always seemed to come up with creative or different ways to look at climate data, and was always happy to share his insights with folks. I’m so glad I had an opportunity to spend some time with Kelly again when we were both attending a regional drought (NIDIS) workshop in Portland, OR earlier this year. What an excellent scientist, communicator and great guy! You’ll be sorely missed. Rest in peace fellow Badger.

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