Water@Wayne Seminar: "High Confidence Assessment of Future Climate Change Impacts for the Southwest U.S., the Great Lakes Region and Beyond"

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Date: March 5, 2020
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Engineering, College of #1520 | Map
5050 Anthony Wayne
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Seminar

RSVP is closed.

The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to host the next Water@Wayne seminar on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the College of Engineering, Room 1520. The seminar is free and open to the public; registration is requested.

The Water@Wayne Seminar Series presents "High Confidence Assessment of Future Climate Change Impacts for the Southwest U.S., the Great Lakes Region and Beyond" with Dr. Jonathan T. Overpeck, the Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability and interdisciplinary climate scientist at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Overpeck has written over 210 published works on climate and the environmental sciences, served as a working group 1 coordinating lead author for the Nobel Prize winning IPCC 4th Assessment (2007), and also as a working group 2 lead author for the IPCC 5th Assessment (2014). Other awards include the US Dept. of Commerce Gold and Bronze Medals, 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.

He has active climate research programs on five continents, focused on understanding drought and megadrought dynamics (and risk) the world over, and has also served as the lead investigator of Climate Assessment for the Southwest and the SW Climate Science Center – two major programs focused on regional climate adaptation. Dr. Overpeck also works more broadly on climate and paleoclimate dynamics, ice sheets and sea level, climate-vegetation interaction, conservation biology, legal issues related to climate change, environmental communication and environmental education. 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 @GreatLakesPeck.


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 “early warning” regions, such as the Southwest U.S., there is a clear observed trend in this direction. This is particularly true for the region’s rivers, 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 precipitation increases with little net increase to water supply or ecosystem risk. A new approach integrating the examination of temperature, precipitation and drought risk indicate that Colorado River flows, sustainable water supplies, and ecosystems in the Southwest are already being seriously affected by warming, and that continued warming could result in much larger impacts than widely thought, even if mean precipitation increases. The implications of these results have serious implications for terrestrial systems in most parts of the globe, including regions with higher average precipitation (e.g., the Amazon and Great Lakes regions). We are now able to say this with high confidence, strengthening the case for actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.