The Colorado River, Climate Change and Drought
Johnathan Overpeck, Regents Professor of Geosciences, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona. firstname.lastname@example.org
Many current assessments of future climate and hydrologic change suggest that current drylands around the globe could become drier with continued anthropogenic climate change. In some regions, such as the southwest U.S., there is an observed trend in this direction. This is particularly true for the Colorado River, where the nature of drought is shifting to a more temperature-dominated climate extreme. At the same time, however, some recent and influential scientific assessments suggest that temperature-driven drying could be compensated by large precipitation increases with little net increase to water supply risk. A new approach integrating the examination of temperature, precipitation and drought risk indicate that Colorado River flows, and water supplies in the Southwest more generally, are already being seriously affected, and that continued climate change could result in much larger water supply losses than widely thought, even if mean precipitation increases.
Professor Overpeck (“Peck”) is a Regents Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, and also the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor of Science, both at the University of Arizona. He is climate scientist who has written over 200 published works on climate and the environmental sciences, served as a Coordinating Lead Author for the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment (2007), and also as a Lead Author for the IPCC 5th Assessment (2014). Other awards include the US Dept. of Commerce Gold Medal, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Walter Orr Roberts award of the American Meteorological Society, and the Quivira Coalition’s Radical Center Award for his work with rural ranchers and land managers. Peck has active climate research programs on five continents, loves trying to understand drought and megadrought dynamics (and risk) the world over, and is also a lead investigator of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest and the SW Climate Science Center – two major programs focused on regional climate adaptation. He has appeared and testified before Congress multiple times, is a Fellow of AGU and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and tweets about climate-related issues @TucsonPeck.