Jay Famiglietti Selected as 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer

Professor to give lectures internationally on global water cycle change and freshwater availability

Professor James S. (Jay) Famiglietti, Ph.D., Department of Earth System Science in the School of Physical Sciences, and a joint appointment in in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, has been selected as the 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer. The lectureship is made to one person annually by the Geological Society of America(GSA) Hydrogeology Division. Famiglietti is the 34th GSA Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer and plans to give 50 lectures during his tour.

Famiglietti will give two different lectures internationally on global water cycle change and freshwater availability. The first lecture, “Water Cycle Change and the Human Fingerprint on the Water Landscape of the 21st Century: Observations from a Decade of GRACE,” will review the basics of how NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission observes terrestrial and global hydrology; what new information the mission has provided since its launch in 2002; and the implications for the future of water availability and sustainable water resources management.

The second lecture, “A Strategy for Accelerating the Development of Hydrological Models: Societal Needs, Observational Requirements and Public Communication,” will discuss the critical societal issues of the availability and security of water, energy and food, as well as highlight recent efforts in California and at the national scale to develop a modeling and data integration framework that can be applied across scales up to continental and global scales.

Famiglietti’s research group focuses on how the water cycle and freshwater resources are being impacted by climate change.  They develop advanced computer models and use satellite remote sensing and track water availability around the globe.  His work has been incorporated into several of the world’s leading global climate models, the complex numerical simulators used to predict and understand global change. Most recently, he and his students have pioneered methods using data from a new, satellite gravity mission to identify groundwater depletion in the world’s major aquifers.

He is the founding director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling, a University of California system-wide center to develop state-of-the-art predictive models to address high-priority water issues in California and the Western United States. Before joining the faculty at UC Irvine in 2001, he was an assistant and associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin; and was the founding Associate Director of the UT Environmental Science Institute. He is the past chair of the board of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), and past editor-in-chief of Geophysical Research Letters. Famiglietti is currently leading the Community Hydrologic Modeling Project (CHyMP) with the goal of establishing a community modeling program that enables comprehensive simulation of water at any location on the North American continent.

The Birdsall Distinguished Lectureship began in 1978, as part of a bequest to the GSA– Hydrogeology Division in memory of John Manning Birdsall, a prominent geologist, retired from the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey. Dr. Shirley Dreiss from the University of California, Santa Cruz, was killed in an auto accident shortly after her 1992 lecture tour, so the lectureship, was renamed the Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lectureship in her honor.