Research Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences
In 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, narrowly avoided becoming the first major metropolitan area to run out of water. This city of four million people and its surrounding region was suffering through a severe rainfall shortage, or drought, that had lasted for almost three years. Only by enacting severe restrictions on water use were they able to avoid what came to be called Day Zero: the day when the taps would go dry.
My research focuses on understanding the causes and predictability of both floods and droughts. I analyze data from observations as well as from multiple climate models, which are complex numerical representations of the climate system. In addition to understanding droughts and floods themselves, I also research how they can act to drive outbreaks of infectious disease.
■ Understanding the origins and future likelihood of the Day Zero Cape Town drought and similar water risks facing major metropolitan regions
■ Understanding the role of El Niño and precipitation extremes in the western United States through the application and analysis of seasonal forecast models
■ Improving tools for analyzing Big Data in the Earth Sciences in collaboration with colleagues at CSISS
■ Using climate information to increase community resilience through better understanding of the impact of climate variability on human health