Prof. Jay Famiglietti delivering the keynote science address at the 2011 Global Water Summit in Berlin

In 2012 Professor James S. (Jay) Famiglietti is serving as the Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer of the Geological Society of America, when he will lecture internationally on global water cycle change and freshwater availability.  The blog posts published here are primarily a journal of his thoughts and experiences during the lectureship.

Jay Famiglietti holds a joint faculty appointment in Earth System Science and in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. Prof. 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 to track water availability around the globe.  Famiglietti’s 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, and that provide the basis for assessment of future climate in the IPCC reports. 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. Their work has highlighted unsustainable rates of groundwater use around globe – from the Central Valley and the High Plains aquifers in the U. S., to the Middle East, India, China and Australia.

Prof. Famiglietti is the founding director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling, a new 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. Jay and his research group have published over 80 papers in the peer-reviewed literature.  Before joining the faculty at UCI in 2001, Jay 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 has been a Visiting Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.  Jay is the past Chair of the Board of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), a past Editor-in-Chief of Geophysical Research Letters, and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is currently leading the Community Hydrologic Modeling Project (CHyMP) effort in the United States to accelerate the development of hydrological models for use in addressing international priorities related to water, food, economic, climate, and global security.  Jay has testified before Congress on his recent work on groundwater depletion in California, which was also featured in the New York Times; and he has briefed international leaders including former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.  His work has been also been featured in several major newspapers, magazines and blogs. Jay appears in Participant Media/ATO Pictures documentary on water issues called ‘Last Call at the Oasis.’

Famiglietti research group drinking freshly recycled sewage at the Groundwater Replenishment System in Orange County, CA


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Design professional Richard Vijgen's rendering of GRACE and USGS groundwater depletion data displayed on Times Square beginning on World Water Day, March 22, 2012.

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